We’ve all been there… We had the highest intentions of keeping our budget, and reaching our financial goals for the year, but life just happens.
In a world where buying a Starbucks a day is ‘NBD’ and friends and family congratulate you on your latest splurge, how are we supposed to keep a budget, save money, or pay off our debt?
Well, I’ve recently discovered one crucial trick that has greatly curbed my spending and stopped all impulse buys right in their tracks!
If you struggle with a leaky pocket and always falling short of your financial goals, here is my newly found secret sauce to success….
Become a Dreamer
Becoming a big, crazy-eyed, wild-hearted dreamer is the best trick I’ve found to controlling my spending habits. Let me explain…
I’ve recently been exploring my own personal financial philosophy. In researching various viewpoints on finances out there, I came across some ideas that rocked my world. They opened my eyes up to new dreams that I never would have considered remotely realistic before.
And out of these ideas, a dream was born. A big, huge, crazy dream!
I dream that Jake and I can both retire when we have children and raise them at home together. I dream that we can enjoy financial independence and a lifestyle of freedom. And, I dream that this can happen in well under 10 years time.
In fact, I’d like to realize this big dream as soon as humanly possible!
(If this sounds ridiculous or unrealistic to you… I plan on devoting future posts on explaining my dream in further detail.)
Now, in order to achieve this dream lifestyle in the time-frame I picture, it’s going to take some real changes in my spending habits and a great big dose of intentionality.
Since the inception of this dream, there is a thought that now runs through my mind every single time I make a purchase:
This dollar I am spending is making it take longer to achieve my big crazy dream. Do I want this item? Or would I rather have my dream lifestyle sooner?
Let me tell you, friends, this is a game-changer for us impulse-buyers and spendy-spenders. If you can dream big enough that the dream enters your mind every single time you make a purchase, you will be able to master your finances and finally get them under your control.
So that is how it works for me… but this mindset of Big Dreams has been in development for several weeks now. It took some pretty intense dreaming and scheming to get to a point where it permeating my money decision making.
Let’s walk through how you can become a dreamer too and finally master your spending…
Step 1: Dream your Biggest Dream
So how do you find your own crazy, wild-hearted dream?
First off, it has to be realistic. If you don’t think this dream is actually possible, then there is no way you will fight to get there.
But, it needs to stretch beyond what you previously thought possible. In other words, you need to figure out that something you never thought was realistic, is in fact achievable!
How do you do that? Find something that you care about very much that is related to your lifestyle or future lifestyle. Here are some possible topics:
- Buying a house
- Becoming debt-free
- Visiting a particular country
- Traveling full-time
- Spending more time on your hobby
- Being able to quit working
- A new kitchen
Now, take that topic that you deeply care about and do some intense research on it. I’m not talking about reading Forbes though… Oh no. You need to dive into the extreme fringe realm of that topic. The do-or-die type blogs and forums.
Allow what you read to stretch your dreams.
You may find out that the cost to travel full-time is in fact less than your current cost of living now…
You may realize that early retirement and financial independence is not as far away as you once thought…
You may learn that it’s possible to travel to your dream destination for a lot less than you imagined…
Or maybe you’ll just realize that your dream costs what it costs, but is totally within reach if you could just get your finances in check.
Having trouble stretching your dreams? Check out these reads to get your wheels turning…
- The shockingly simple math behind early retirement
- Working the 4 Hour Work Week
- Work Less, Live More: The Way to Semi-Retirement
- How to get over $10,000 of free travel to Europe
Step 2: Believe the Dream
Every single time you are about to make a purchase, imagine this dream, why it matters to you, and picture each dollar you spend as making it longer for you to achieve that dream.
When you are passionate enough about a goal, and truly believe in your heart that it is attainable, it will drive your buying decisions. You’ll be able to curb the mindless spending that you would never miss anyway.
This is especially true if your dream is a lifestyle dream. Once you realize that you want a certain lifestyle more strongly than any material possession, your purchase decision becomes very clear.
No, this isn’t supposed to be an exercise in guilt. Not at all. In fact, it is about building ultimate intentionality into your life and eliminating meaningless frivolity. It is about absolutely maximizing your life and reaching your dream lifestyle faster than you ever imagined.
Step 3: Track the Dream
You have dreamed a crazy-hearted, absolutely wild dream.
You let it permeate your thoughts and weigh your dream against every purchase you make.
Now, it’s time to start tracking progress towards your dream. If you don’t actively track how close you are to your goal, you may lose hope and give in once again to the cycle of mindless consumerism.
Every month, sit down and calculate out how long will it be before you achieve your dream. Watch as the time goes down every time and be fueled by the nearing possibility of your dream lifestyle.
One of the best tools I’ve found for financial goal tracking is Personal Capital. It is a free site that aggregates all of your accounts and gives you an excellent big picture view of your progress. You can even get alerts on how much your net worth has increased which is a great way to help you stay focused on forward motion!
I hope this article gets your wheels turning and allows you to dream bigger than you every have before. Life is to short not shoot for the stars! Don’t let societal consumerism rob you of your dream lifestyle. Make your own way, and fight for a life you love.