Instead of Asking How Can I make Money, would do better to ask, How Can I Spend It?

There are many answers to the question of How Can I Make Money, but those answers don’t solve the problem of not having enough money for all the people who are asking it.

I am not going to provide any more answers to that question, rather I am going to ask another question and answer to it.

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How can I spend my money more effectively?

You might think that question has nothing to do with how to make money but I believe it is actually at the basis of not having enough. To explain, I have to begin with how we think about money, and how we use the money we do have, i.e. our relationship with money.

In this society we have come to believe that money is a measure of value. But there are many wonderful things in this life that cannot be measured by that value. We have to unchain ourselves from the old beliefs we have about money in order to have enough of it in our lives to do and have what we want, in order to fulfil our purpose.

I have a wonderful veggie patch in my back yard that gives me and my family great pleasure, great nutrition, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, it sustains several families of birds and all our food scraps go into the compost which then ends up in the veggie garden. It also reduces our carbon footprint. Those veggies don’t have to be picked by labourers who drive to work, it is not tilled by a tractor, that produce does not get shipped to the market, then to the retailer, we don’t have to drive to the shop to buy it, and they do not require to be shipped around in boxes and plastic bags. A big plus is they are not subjected to artificial fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.

So yes, it saves us money on our food bill, but that is not the only value my veggie garden has, and the high price on supermarket veggies does not mean they are better than my home grown ones. In fact, my home grown veggies are far superior in taste, nutritional content, freshness, and gives us an amazing feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

We tend to believe that price speaks of value.

Something must be valuable if it costs a lot, but there are many things that are more valuable even though their price is lower. If I am a high earner out in the working world, then I must be a more valuable member of society. But I know a street sweeper who was so much more valuable to me than most doctors I have seen. He always had a story or piece of poetry to recite, kind words and wisdom to impart, a sparkling laughing smile for everyone who stopped to bask in his greatness and humility.

Is your spending and are your purchases reflecting your values?

That can be a tough question for some people because they have never thought on what their values are. But because you are reading this article, then I am going to assume that you have given some thought to your values and basic beliefs about life and yourself.

Firstly, we trade our money for things that sustain us, like food, shelter, water, clothes, furniture, essential services, healers and medicine, education and transport. So that money gives us life in a sense. We buy life sustaining things and services. So money is something that we exchange for life. We invest the majority of our time and our lives, our life’s-energy, on working to make our money. We then spend that money in a cycle of work/spending/work/spending. So we are actually spending our life’s-energy when we shop. If you buy something that costs 2 days of your life, you need to know if it is worth that life expenditure.

Think about a time when you might have been suddenly hitting rock bottom financially. The feeling that experience gives you is one of intense anxiety, panic, dread and despair in varying degrees of intensity. If you now think about how you would feel if you were told that your life was about to end, wouldn’t you feel those same emotions. The only difference is the degree of intensity. If you are suddenly bereft of the means to buy life sustaining things, then your life is threatened and that scares the crap out of us!

Now speaking of crap, how much of that have you bought in your lifetime.
Just go and open all your cupboards and inspect everything in them. How much is in there that you don't use, that turned out to be cheap and nasty, that you didn’t actually need. Do you have clothes that didn't fit you or you didn't like when you got it home? I know I have always had clothes in my wardrobe that I never wear. Have you ever bought a piece of furniture that you later decided wasn’t actually the style you wanted? Have you ever bought a piece of furniture that fell apart within a year or two?

So have a think about that question I posed at the beginning of this article. Is your spending, and are your purchases reflecting your values? Like most people, maybe they are not. But they are probably reflecting your beliefs about yourself and the world.

I will give you an example. I grew up in a fairly poor household in a blue collar town because my father had a debilitating illness from his war experience. We were always fed well but never extravagantly, dressed usually in homemade or second hand clothes and everything we had was made to last. Nothing was disposable and many things were rationed. I was never driven to school even if it was teeming with rain. I only ever got one modest present from my parents at Christmas and on my birthdays.

When my parents died I went out to work and made my own money. I thought I left that poor upbringing behind by buying whatever I wanted. I bought nice clothes, expensive skin care products, had a family Wedgewood dinner set and crystal glasses in the china cabinet.

Many of those items of clothing, always the good ones, I never wore or wore them only once. I shopped at op shops too and bought tons of 'funky' stuff which I then never wore. The jars of expensive skin care I used until I got to the last quarter and then bought a new one, usually a different brand. I actually wasted about a quarter of every jar and bottle, even the shampoo and conditioner. I always bought new ones before the old ones were finished.

After many years, about 30, of this behavior I came to the conclusion that I had the belief that there would never be enough. Whenever I got near the end of a jar of face cream I couldn't bear to finish it because then it would be gone and I might not have the means to get more. But those creams and shampoos don’t last forever and many a bottle and jar have I thrown away with a quarter of the product still in it, gone off from saving it for years, wasted.

The good clothes I bought I didn’t wear because they were too good. The good crockery and crystal glasses I didn't use because they might get broken. I actually had a belief that I couldn’t replace them and that they weren’t appropriate for my daily life. They were too good to use every day. I didn’t deserve to use the good things, to wear beautiful clothes to the shop or to work, and to eat off beautiful dishes. I believed they should be reserved for an important occasion, but when those occasions came up, even then I often didn't deem them important enough to use.

Obviously I was spending my money on things I thought I couldn’t afford or didn't deserve to actually use. So what I needed to do for a while was to just stop buying things so I could figure out what I really wanted and needed, and what I knew I would actually use. I also needed to adjust my beliefs about myself to match my values.

I now have a written List of Life Values, and I believe they are life-affirming, and in alignment with my self growth, nourishment and happiness. They also support the health of my environment and other life forms. I suggest you do the same.

As to my beliefs about myself, well that is a process of me stalking me on a daily basis. When I go shopping now, before I purchase anything I ask myself a couple of questions.

1. Is this purchase in alignment with my values and is it worth spending some of my life's energy on?

2. Does this belong in my life and will I use and enjoy this item for its entire lifespan?

With practice, you will eventually hone down these questions to a short one like, "Will this serve me?"

Now the questions you might ask yourself when shopping might be slightly different from mine. If you are very wealthy you might be asking yourself more questions before you spend. Is my money being put to the best possible use for humanity, the wildlife and the environment? Is my money doing the greatest good with this purchase? I assume you get the picture I am painting here.

Really the upshot of all this is to be more mindful of your life's-energy, how you trade your time for money, and how you spend that money and your life’s-energy. We definitely do not need more crap in our lives, more crap in our bellies, and homes cluttered with crap.

So an important starting point with all this is to declutter your home. Pare down your belongings to only the possessions that have meaning to you. You are actually in relationship with everything you own. You might feel a sense of love every time you lay eyes on the jewellery box your husband bought you. You might feel a sense of angst every time you see that wobbly, cheap hall stand you wish you hadn’t bought. That is a relationship you have with a possession.

So let go of those relationships with your stuff that don't serve you, your happiness
and your health.

Have no shame about what you find lurking in your dark corners and your cupboards. This is a quest to make your life better. In Feng Shui we would say clutter is only stagnant energy. If you think in terms of energy, then you can be lighter about this process and not beat yourself up over it. Look objectively at your home and its contents, and ask yourself how your stuff might be keeping you stuck.

So if you need to, write a list of your Life's Values, identify any limiting beliefs you have around money, and have your shopping questions at the ready before you go on any shopping excursion. Spend with the intent of building real and lasting happiness and peace for yourself and your family. The effort you put into this will repay you tenfold, just like a good investment.

I wish you many Blessings on your life…and happy shopping!

To understand more about money, read:
The Future of Money: Creating New Wealth, Work and a Wiser World
by Bernard A. Lietaer

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