Here’s an experiment for you to try if you’re looking for ways to cultivate gratitude, save money, or just try something new.
Make this year a very intentional giving season. Spend some dedicated, focused time considering what your family and friends – anyone on your usual gift-buying list – might really, really like (that you can afford). Narrow it down to just a few items. If you could only buy them one thing this year, what would it be? More is not necessarily better. It’s not necessarily bad either. The point is to be intentional and give a gift (or gift ) that you know the recipient will be thrilled and delighted to receive – in part because of the item itself, but in even greater part because they recognize you took the time to consider what would bring them joy. You’ll feel a sense of gratitude for being intentional with your time and your money, and also for spending some time focusing deeply on that loved one – you may even learn something new about them in the process!
For those of you following the Baby Steps to get and stay debt free, gratitude plays a big role in whether or not you ultimately achieve your goals. But sometimes we lose perspective and forget to be grateful and content for what we do have, and instead the sense of ingratitude and entitlement starts to creep in, threatening to ruin all the progress we’ve made. Here are some examples from the Baby Step journey.
Folks in Baby Step 2 – debt elimination – often report feeling ungrateful for the lack of money they have. They experience feelings of sadness and even depression that they cannot buy the things they want. The holidays are often a tough time for many people and depression and anxiety can rise. But you don’t have to go there! To combat those unwanted feelings of not being able to have what you want, create a practice of gratitude. Make it a habit every day to list 3 things you are grateful for, and why. Share these at dinner with your family. I bet everyone will want to participate, and before you know it the attitude of ingratitude will shift to one of gratitude.
Even folks in Baby Step 7 – give wealth and give – can experience feelings of ingratitude especially around the holidays. I’ve heard this before: “I’ve worked so hard to get out of debt and start saving for my retirement and kids’ college, I feel like I deserve to be able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it! Do I really need to keep up this budget? It’s stopping me from enjoying life.”
Regardless of where you are on your financial well-being journey, I always take sentiments like these as a sign of fatigue. These are folks that have been working really hard for often extended periods of time, and they’re worn out. They’re not bad people, and they’re not ungrateful people either. But they’ve probably forgotten to practice their gratitude on a daily basis and so their resiliency has worn down.
If you find yourself at this stage of the game, take some time to reflect on how you feel about how far you’ve come on your financial well-being journey. Is there a sense of gratitude for the hard work and effort it took to just get started on paying off debt, or to pay off debt completely? For the sacrifices you and other family members are making or have made? Take some time to consider what that budget did for you! You set it up, but once it was set, that budget held in place the boundaries that were important to you and helped keep you on track! Thank you, budget!!
Here’s an exercise that might help fuel your gratitude tank: this holiday season, write notes to the people in your life who are supporting you during your financial well-being journey. Maybe it’s your kids or your parents, friends or co-workers. Anyone who sees and supports your sacrifice, who maybe even sacrifice too in order to help you achieve your goal!
If you couldn’t throw a birthday party for your 11-year old daughter this year, write her a note of gratitude expressing to her how much you appreciate her and the sacrifice she made. Remind her of why this matters, and the ultimate end goal for her and your family. Even if she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, I guarantee you she’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside when she reads that note! Or maybe you made the choice to not visit your parents for Christmas in order to save money. Drop them a line too, thanking them for understanding and reminding them of your love for them. Remind them of the journey you’re on, why it’s so important to you, and why you’re grateful to be on it.
Who knows – this process just might inspire someone else to take control of their money and experience the freedom of an intentional life too! Always remember why you chose to embark on this journey – you want a better future for yourself and your family. Financial well-being is, and always will be, more about mindset than numbers. Numbers matter, but without the mindset to guide your decisions the numbers alone won’t get you where you want to be.
Want to learn more about how gratitude can help you lay a solid financial foundation? Schedule your free 15-minute discovery call here to help determine how financial coaching can help you.