How to Save Up for What You Really Want

You might have one thing that you’d love to do and it feels almost impossible to save for it.  For me it was a month long immersion in Toaist Immersion in Thailand for women.  It was $5000, which was way out of my price range at the time since I was earning about $12,000 as a yoga teacher/healer/chem tutor.. To be fair I was working about 30 hours per week most weeks and practicing quite a bit of yoga.  At the time i was 27-28 years old and I couldn’t keep any money in the bank. It seemed totally hopeless.

I read somewhere that saving is important even if it’s just a little, so I began saving just $10 per week—a very small amount.  

What’s really interesting is that it can feel surprisingly very good to save money and it sends a messages to the universe and ourselves.  Sometimes this message is “I earn enough to save money.”  Or “I am worthy to have money in the bank.”  Or “my dreams are worth investing in.”

The basic cycle is this: The more we save the more we want to save which leads to saving more.

Before I go further I want to say this: I’m actually slightly uncomfortable writing this. I see myself as a spiritual teacher and I know I might get some backlash.  I view money like other things in the 3-d world—something we inevitably have a relationship with, just like we have relationships to family members, work, our bodies, etc.

There is a percentage of the population who is terrible with money. We’d rather not think about it. I fall into this camp and I know I can help people who are in this camp as well. I also think most of us will benefit from taking a look at our spending and seeing if it really fits with our values.

Illuminating your money habits—try these 2 experiments!

Experiment 1: Track your spending for 3 days.  Track everything.  At the end of the third day look at the things you bought and circle anything that you don’t really feel good about or regret.  Maybe it felt fine in the moment, but really you could have done without that 2nd vanilla latte.  Add all these things up and that’s how much could go towards things that would really add value to your life.  Maybe it’s a vacation or a training you’re interested in taking.  Or maybe it’s just a weekend in the mountains by yourself (introvert’s dream).

Experiment 2: Spending fast.  No this does not mean spending money at a rapid rate—I mean do a money fast (i.e. refrain from spending money).  Choose 1 thing (perhaps it’s unnecessary or the least necessary thing you spend money on) that you won’t spend money on for 1 week.  For me that’s either coffee, kombucha, or out to eat. Make sure to put the money you saved on your spending fast towards something that is meaningful to you.

A bit about the brain and spending: The primitive brain will want you to spend money.  The primitive brain is all about getting a fresh hit of dopamine (feel good brain chemical) when you buy that coffee, go out to eat, or buy a snack out of habit.  

The primitive brain seeks pleasure and wants to avoid unpleasant.  It may be very unpleasant to refrain from buying things.  This is normal.  You must learn how to be with this unpleasant sensation and not act on it.  I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes when you feel the urge to buy coffee or whatever your “thing” is.  Let yourself be curious about this unpleasant feeling and observe it—watch it and see what happens.

I’ve found both of these experiments very interesting and helpful as I learn to walk this life as a human being in a society where we use money.

Things to keep in mind:

-Money isn’t everything, but money is something.  We’re going to spend money on things regardless, so we might as well be smart with it.

-I’m not saying that coffee, snacks, out to eat or whatever you’re spending on is bad.  You decide what’s bringing value to you and if it’s the smartest way you can spend money.  Maybe coffee with friends (or a book) is one thing that totally brings you joy—then that’s great!  The key is to look at your spending habits and consciously evaluating if they’re in alignment with what you value most.

-Money isn’t the end all be all.  You can look at money as a tool.  Is it working for you?  Is it doing what you want it to do for you?

I want to hear from you: What do you feel you’re buying out of habit and what would you love to repurpose that money towards?  If you try one of the experiments let me know what you learn in the comments below!

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