I know something about you. I know you don’t have enough money left at the end of the month. There are things you wish you could do, but you don’t have the funds to do them. If you had just a bit more money, everything would be fine. This is true whoever you are, whatever your income.
Think about it. No matter how much money you make, it isn’t enough. If you make $20,000 a year, don’t you wish you made $30,000? If you make $200,000 a year, don’t you wish you made $300,000? This is a near-universal experience. But rather than whine and moan about it, I wonder if there’s a way we can use this to our advantage?
Let’s say you’d like to be saving 10% of your income, but you haven’t started yet because you don’t know how you’d get by without that money. Things are so tight right now – there’s no possible way you could survive on less. But we just established that ALL income levels feel inadequate. If you earned 10% less than you earned right now, would that really feel any different than what you make now? Yes, your checkbook would notice, but would you feel any different? My guess is you’d only notice the difference for a week or two.
Try this experiment. The next time you get a paycheck, put 10% away somewhere – anywhere, under the mattress if you want – it doesn’t matter. Then try to make the rest last until your next paycheck. If you’re like me, just the thought of 10% less scares you to death, but I bet you’ll make it to the next check without much difficulty. If you’re successful, you’ll be living on less, AND you’ll be saving up for a rainy day. And you’re doing it EVEN THOUGH you don’t have enough!
This post originally appeared in the January 16, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.
UPDATE: the name of this post should be “voluntary deprivity”