I published a post last week called 10 steps to whatever it is that you want … how to weigh up the cost of a lifestyle decision which outlined a basic Making Money 101 decision-making process to help you sort your way through a discretionary purchase decision (you know the type: “Hey, that 48″ plasma screen would look really great on that wall!”).
You see, I come from the school of Ambivalent Frugality – sometimes you should … sometimes you shouldn’t. After all, money was invented to trade for ‘stuff’, right?
We just have to trade it for the RIGHT stuff, only when we can AFFORD it; and, the 10 Steps were designed to help us do exactly that.
Now, I don’t normally do a follow-up post so quickly … after all, what will I have left to write about next month?! 🙂
[AJC: kind’a reminds me of the old joke: why shouldn’t you look out of your office window all morning? Because you’ll have nothing to do all afternoon!]
Here’s part of Diane’s question:
Have a dilemma regarding is it a need or a want – I have a house now, student loans, bad debt and need to decrease everything. I have a rescue Old English Sheepdog I’ve had now over a year and a half. Always meant to get a [larger] fence up, even prior to getting him, but had different expenses and no savings to cover them (hence the debt climb) and have put off getting a fence up … under the 10 questions, it doesn’t qualify as something to change lifestyle, but … I think this is a need, but … it is a financial decision as well. It’s not putting food in our mouths, but it is providing shelter and protection for the family dog who is also protection for us (single mom household). Or is this too left-field?
Now, this is definitely not left field, but – at least on the surface- the 10 Questions seem more designed to answer “can I afford ‘stupid stuff'”-type questions than these really tricky emotional ones.
In my experience, when we get into emotional ‘need v want v life-changing’ questions, rational decision-making can fall flat on it’s head.
But, I have a simple solution …
… one that doesn’t need to involve attempting to answer (preferably, Qualified Shrink Assisted) a myriad of ‘soft’ questions like: “will the animal suffer if you don’t put the larger fence up?” and/or “will YOU suffer if you delay puttin the larger fence up?” and/or “did your parents emotionally ‘fence’ you in when you were young and are you projecting this onto your dog?” and so on [AJC: Sigmund would be SO proud of me].
Instead, I shortcut the whole process for Diane – and, I suggest that you give this a try next time you are trying to avoid answering the 10 Questions because you really need something that you probably can’t afford, too – by simply asking her to do the following:
Follow the 10 questions exactly as written … that’s what I put them there for!
Simple … isn’t it?
Now, Diane, if you followed this advice on Sunday when you left your comment, by now you would have made your own sane, rational decision. Right?
If as I suspect, given your financial position, it was against Poor Pooch then I have a question for you:
How do you really feel now, having made that really hard decision?
…… [Diane inserts emotional feeling of (a) relief having made the ‘right’ decision, or (b) pain having made what feels like a terrible, albeit financially correct decision, or (c) she’s emotionally dead] …..
Diane – and all of us – that is the only way to sort through an emotional need from a want:
Make the decision rationally, then see how you really feel …
… then, go with your feeling!
That’s what LIFE is all about … and, didn’t we just say that our money is to support our life?
PS There’s a neat shortcut to this process: when faced with a difficult choice – and you don’t want to pay for professional advice to help you get through the decision-making process – simply flip a coin and mentally go with the decision. Dig deep to see how that makes you feel … and, go with your feeling!