It is Mrs. Roy's distinct honor to provide this guest post from Gary Foreman at The Dollar Stretcher!
Your Money Tapes The Dollar Stretcher Blog by Gary Foreman
I've often heard it said that the longest distance is between the human head and the human heart. What is meant is that there are many things that we know intellectually. We understand them and have no doubt that they're true. But, we still have trouble acting on them. In other words, our heart doesn't know the same truth.
How many of us suffer the same thing in our financial affairs? We know we should budget or begin saving for retirement. But we can't seem to do it. Intellectually we know what we should be doing. But we just can't get going on it. Our heart isn't in the program.
One way to identify when our minds and hearts aren't in sync is to notice what financial decisions make us uncomfortable. What financial activities make our palms sweat? Our hearts beat faster? Make our stomach quesy? When we feel uneasy about a financial event that's a clue that it's an area that we need to examine.
So I invite you to keep a brief log. Notice those financial events that cause discomfort. Include the date, time and any circumstances that seem like they could be relevant. Don't try to analyze it now. All we want to do now is capture the moment and make note of it and how we feel at the time.
Once you've assembled your journal (after a few days to a week) it's time to study the entries.
First, were you able to recongize what tape was playing in your mind during the event that made you uneasy? For instance, I've often heard "You shouldn't be spending this money. Not on some luxury." Or "Go ahead and buy it. You'll never find it again this cheap." There are many messages that our minds play when we're considering making a financial decision. Each of us has our own set of tapes. Almost like an Ipod full of messages that you frequently listen to.
Some of the messages are good. It's true that I shouldn't be spending money on unneeded luxuries. And I should look for bargains.
But we need to be careful about the application. For instance, if the 'luxury' is buying a steak to cook at home and I do it once a month is that a luxury? Sure, it's more expensive than cooking a chicken. But, a steak with baked potato and veggie eaten at home isn't an outrageous expense. And, perhaps that little luxury is enough to keep me from being tempted to eat at a restaurant that evening. So maybe the money tape shouldn't apply to this situation.
Or the bargain purchase. If the item I may buy is used and well worn, perhaps it's not such a good purchase. Especially if it's something that I'll use often. Maybe it's worn so that it is likely to break when I need it. Perhaps spending a few more dollars could buy something that's dependable and will last much longer. In that case being the cheapest isn't necessarily a good thing. Again, finding a bargain is good. But it isn't always the only thing to consider.
So what does your money journal tell you? What tapes were playing when you were uncomfortable about a financial decision? Take a look at them in light of the choices you were facing. Was the tape appropriate to the situation? Or were you hearing something that could lead you to the wrong financial outcome?
Remember that these money tapes almost always have some truth in them. But, it's important for us to know whether the tape is true in this specific situation.
One final thought. Since these money messages have been in our heads for years and feel true to us we often accept them without any questions. We jump right to making a decision based on them. If we're applying them to the wrong situation that can be bad. And, if we don't stop to think before making the decision we won't even recognize that we could be making a mistake. In fact, we'll congratulate ourselves for making the 'rational' choice.
So the next time that a financial decision makes you queasy, stop for a moment. Listen to the tape in your head. Ask yourself if the message is true in this particular situation. And, only after you've completed these steps, then make a decision.
By doing so, you'll move your head and your heart closer together. Close enough so that your heart will feel good about the logical decisions your head is making!
These are the sad remains of the potted plants that tried to live on my porch last summer.
There is a lot of talk these days about organic foods and sustainability and self-sufficiency. Mrs. Roy subscribes to Mother Earth News. Mrs. Roy knows about these things. And Mrs. Roy agrees that growing fruits and vegetables in the backyard is definitely cheaper than buying them - sort of. And it has to be healthy to eat all that stuff you grow instead of pop-tarts and instant potatoes. And Mrs. Roy just read "One Second After" which has kind of freaked me out and makes me want to go plant my entire yard in root vegetables. All that being said, Mrs. Roy still doesn't have a garden.
For one thing, Mrs. Roy is always a little skeptical of the calculations of yield vs cost that Mother talks about. Even figuring that these people are expert gardeners and their yield is bound to be bigger than mine, it still doesn't really add up. By the time
you add in the costs of good dirt, fertilizer, seeds, insecticides, and
tools (not to mention your time) home grown is not equal to cheap. And then you have the problem of crops coming in and not being able to consume it all before it goes bad - which means you have to sell it or give it away or preserve it, all of which would seem to negatively affect that yield calculation ratio.
The time thing is also a big factor. In the spring, when the temperatures are pretty moderate and there is a breeze, I'm all about digging up one of the few patches of sunshine in my yard (yet another deterrent to gardening) and setting up some "gardening by the foot" raised beds. Then I remember that I have to go to work every day and have things to do when I get home like cleaning and cooking and getting ready for the next work day, and somehow the garden doesn't get dug. Which is okay since by the end of June, we are usually in drought conditions around here and I would be having to water my garden by hand or have Mr. Roy helping me install an irrigation system if my imaginary garden had ever been planted. And then you have the squirrels and raccoons and birds and bugs who like to munch of whatever you plant and don't even think about snakes.
Like I said, I know all about gardening on an intellectual level and I like it, even with all the negatives factored in. The biggest problem with Mrs. Roy's gardening dreams is that Mrs. Roy
has a brown thumb. I would love to grow my own vegetables. I envy a
pretty raided bed. Making my own compost sounds like the right thing to
do. However, pretty much everything I plant dies, probably because of any combination of the excuses listed above. So.....
Though I sometimes like to daydream of raised beds and home grown
vegetables, practicality demands that Mrs. Roy be thankful for the
farmer's market. Mrs. Roy passes by not one but two farmer's markets every day. They offer large varieties of locally grown produce at very reasonable prices. And I don't have to dig, sweat, preserve, pinch off bugs, irrigate, prune or anything else to get that produce. I just have to walk in, pay those nice folks and tip the guy who will actually carry it to the car for me. (I love living in the south!) Life is good.