I remember when I first bought my house.
I was freaking stoked!
It had light carpet, standard features, and had that brand new smell.
I loved it.
Then after a few years, I started to look around and complain about the stock cabinets, beige interior and lack of upgrades.
I’d look outside at my yard and get frustrated that the yard was plain and was way more maintenance than I would prefer.
What made me go from being so in love with my home to suddenly feeling like it wasn’t good enough?
Wanting from a place of lack.
Wanting from a place of “I don’t have enough” is one of the most detrimental things to our financial lives. It immediately takes you out of gratitude mode and feeling proud of the things you’ve done, to a place of lack and not feeling good enough.
When you start to look around Instagram, Pinterest, or see that your best friend just got a sweet new house, or your family member just took a fancy vacation and allow yourself to say, “what’s wrong with me? I should be able to do those things too,” you lose.
Finding a balance between being truly content with your life and striving for more can feel difficult, IF you don’t keep your eyes on your own lane and you’re wanting from a place of lack instead of abundance (what I have is more than enough).
Here are some of my favorite tips that help me be a truly content person and be happy with my own life while striving for more.
Think about the opportunity cost of every decision
Understand that for everything you say yes to, you are saying no to something else. I started to really understand this opportunity cost when I started my business. Thankfully, I purchased my home when I was 19 years old, almost at the peak of the housing crisis. I got a killer deal of my home. Not saying this to brag, but I almost sabotaged my great deal by selling this house and buying a newer home that would have cost $600-$800 more per month (payment, utilities, and taxes considered).
When I started my business, I realized that the higher my personal monthly expenses were, the highly the likelihood of me quitting my business and going back to a “9-5” job was if the business didn’t bring in enough money.
I also started to find my love of budget traveling— which, still costs a pretty penny. If I had upgraded to a newer home, I wouldn’t have left my full-time job as quickly and we wouldn’t be able to travel as often as we do now. That new house’s monthly payment would have cost more than just $800 per month.
Now, the opportunity cost of getting a new home means having less money to invest in real estate property or towards my future. And frankly, future cash flow and peace of mind is more enticing to me than a bigger/nicer home I live in and have to work more to pay for.
Consistently practicing weighing out trade offs has trained me to view everything as an opportunity cost.
Try it yourself:
Next time you need to make a small financial decision ask yourself if you spend money on the decisions what are you giving up in return?
Example, should I go out to eat or cook at home? Going out to eat might only cost you $30, but that $30 could pay for you to get your nails done, or help you boost your emergency fund.
Train yourself to think through this with every small decision and you’ll be prepared to think through opportunity costs with the large decisions.
Make the most of your situation.
I used to feel that making the most of your situation meant settling. I thought it meant that you were accepting your life as it and squashing any vision for your dream life. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Making the most of your situation is not settling, it’s being an adult and practicing patience. It’s trusting that timing is everything and enjoying your life until then.
Here’s how this looked for me- sticking with my choice to stay in my house. I wanted an upgraded home with a fireplace. So I started to price out how much it would cost to upgrade my home. I taught myself how to build an electric fireplace surround to give me that upgraded feel. I laid laminate flooring around my entire downstairs, put backsplash in my kitchen, added granite counters and started to re-envision what my house could be.
It was fun!
I started to see that I could make my house almost exactly what I wanted/needed without having to move. (And in the process found a new passion for DIY!)
Frankly, if you can’t be happy with what you currently have, you won’t be happy with what you want to have.
Those that chase happiness through stuff, tend to be the most unhappy.
Making the most of your situation is acknowledging that you deserve to be happy now. And ultimately, happiness is a cultivated attitude not something that can be bought.
Try it yourself:
Write down one area of your life that you feel isn’t good enough for your right now. Maybe it’s your job that bores you to tears. Or your house. Or your older car. Then journal on what you can do to make your current situation more enjoyable.
Example, let’s say your job bores you to tears, but you have a lot of free time. that free time can be spent taking online classes that better your career, listening to podcasts, or volunteering for additional work that creatively challenges you.
In that case, you’re getting paid to have free time that betters your life. Again, this isn’t saying stay in that job forever, but make the most of it until you find another.
Practice having an attitude of gratitude
Finding joy in the little things isn’t necessarily something that comes natural to us. We are wired to find negativity and even seek it out if we aren’t careful. Thankfully, we can reprogram our brains to seeking gratitude. It’s simple if you incorporate it in your daily routine. I often train myself to find beauty in the mundane. Go for a walk and look around. Start to appreciate nature, architecture, and little things. Notice it and say, thank you. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but let’s be real— we are all so busy that it’s not unheard of to coast through life and never truly be grateful or present.
It takes practice to be grateful and present.
Try it yourself:
Stop what you are doing right now. Look around you. Take a couple minutes to just notice. What sounds are you hearing? Follow your breath in and out. Allow yourself to be grounded momentarily.
Then express gratitude towards something. You might be thankful for spouse. Or coworker. Maybe you’re grateful for a great cup of coffee. It doesn’t always have to be the same running list of things you think you should appreciate, it can be the little things.
Hopefully this post helps you start to want from a place of having enough instead of wanting from a place of not enough.