2018 is about embracing abundance for me! Today’s post is one that feels impossible to write, but I think is necessary to dig into. Inevitably, this will be a sloppy and incomplete essay because I can’t seem to figure it out. But I’m going to try and I hope that you will stay with me regardless of my rambling.
Part of my abundance journey is to find out what really makes me happy. I’ve spent the last ten years running up a credit card to a very embarrassing amount. I’d like to figure out why my spending is so out of control, what void I’m trying to fill, and how I can change my spending habits. Being able to let go of those unhelpful patterns will allow me to focus on my own true happiness.
When I look over historical credit card statements, I find the usual stuff: at alternate times in my life, I binge on books, yarn, and fabric, all of which are my passions. But the most perplexing repeating offender for me is food. I buy a LOT of food. I buy a lot of fast food and take out, specifically. I could have a pantry full of delicious food and decide to go to McDonald’s instead. I could even have a fridge full of leftovers from a meal that I adored, and I’d still choose to order sushi. Why? Why can’t I be happy with what’s in the house? I’ve tried to figure this out for years, but can’t seem to get past my love of buying food.
When I listened to Suze Orman’s Financial Freedom earlier this year, she started with two activities. The first was to think of your earliest money memories. The second was to think of your greatest fear. Her theory was that the two are usually related and are holding people back from true financial freedom. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and have a hard time understanding how constantly buying fast food is related to my earliest memories and biggest fears. But I’m going to try to make some connections with the hope that I can work through this in a way that might be helpful for other people.
Growing up, we had just enough to get by. The most obvious example of this was when we went to the grocery store. My parents would often prepare a pot of beans or chicken & dumplings as our meal, with the expectation that it would last the entire week. We’d have “pretend sandwiches,” which were sandwiches that only had mayo on the bread and we’d pretend there was lunch meat. We never starved, were never hungry, were always fed — but we rarely ate out. When we did, it was a huge treat. There was always juuust enough money for the basics and nothing extra.
When I went away to college, I had a new tool: a cafeteria meal card that I could use anywhere on campus, including Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A. The pure luxuriousness of being able to eat delicious, fatty, greasy foods was such an anomaly for me that I ate like that almost every day and it’s pretty much how I prefer to eat now. I love how quick and convenient it is, I don’t dirty any dishes to make the meal, and it’s reliably delicious to my taste buds.
So I can see how my earliest money memories connect to my fast food buying practice, but I have a hard time connecting it to my biggest fear. I think my biggest fear is not being able to care financially or emotionally for my family. Of course, food is tied into that – food is a way of making people feel loved and cared for – but I don’t think this is quite the tie-in that makes the most sense, because I’ve had this challenge much longer than I’ve had children. I need to keep pondering on this and perhaps I’ll be able to figure something out over the course of the year.
But until then, I have to figure out a way to be happy with what I have. So far in January, we’ve eaten out four times which is a dramatic improvement from the past. I’m very happy about that. But as the year goes on and my resolutions wane, will I be able to keep up my resolve? I’m a little scared to think about that too much. So until I can figure this out a bit more deeply, I’m trying to stay focused with a few mantras:
- Money always finds its way me.
- I always have more than enough of what I need.
- I attract only good things to my life.
- I am putting my life in order, preparing to accept all the good that is coming to me now.
It sounds a bit hokey, but they’ve been helping me stay focused and have centered me when I feel like I’m falling astray. I don’t want to eat fast food because I don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Focusing on why I want to preserve the money we have has been the key to getting through this month.
How about you? Are there things you’ve found that help you resist your biggest temptations? How do you avoid falling back into the trap of what’s been easy and comfortable for you for so long? Any advice for me after reading this?