(Links in this post are affiliate links. I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking those links. See my disclosure page for more information)
Being financially content regardless of your financial situation can be tough. Especially in the smartphone connected world we live in.
Used to be you only knew about the new things your friends bought if you went over to their homes, now you see it seconds after they buy it on Instagram or Facebook.
Currently I am reading the book Satisfied: Discovering Contentment In A World Of Consumption by Jeff Manion and I loved what he had to say about where one can find financial contentment and the things that–if we dwell on them–can ruin it.
If You Want To Be Financially Content: Do This–Not That
If you want to be financially content start giving no matter what your financial circumstances are. Give your time, your talent, your possessions and your money to those in need.
In his book, Jeff Manion urges people to never use the “later” excuse as a reason not to give and I agree.
Give while you are still in debt. Give while you are struggling to pay the rent. Give while you are trying to save for your children’s college. Give now, not later.
Giving shifts gears within your heart from seeing your needs to seeing others needs–and the gifts don’t have to be big to create this shift.
When you give you become more content with what you have as you realize there are many more with less.
Don’t wait until you can give greatly. Start now, giving whatever you can even if you think it is too little to make an impact–trust me; it isn’t.
Whenever you fall into the “what I can give is too small to make a difference” ponder this quote…
“While waiting for one moment of greatness, we miss out on a thousand moments of goodness”
Comparison can make you go from feeling blessed to feeling discontented in a heartbeat.
I love what Jeff Manion writes about comparison
“Comparison rarely enjoys what one has but instead dwells on what someone else has and, consequently, obsesses over what one lacks.”
If you want to live a financially satisfied life, you have to stop your brain from playing the comparison game.
Do Practice Gratitude
Nothing stops comparison in its tracks like gratitude.
The next time you feel like you wish you had so-and-so’s paycheck, house, car, boat etc.–start listing what you do have.
The problem is some of the things we who live in first world countries should be grateful for are what we deem as too common and normal to give thanks for.
We think it is common to have homes with running water, electricity, comfy beds, WiFi. We think it is normal to enjoy 3 meals a day. We think it is common to have access to medical care right in our hometown.
It is true that in first world countries these things are common, but we first world citizens make up such a small percentage of the world population. These things are not common–they are financial blessings.
“Solidly anchored in the middle class, most days I have to remind myself how rich I am. The remarkable gifts that surround me go unnoticed. They feel normal.”
In order to practice gratitude we must first become aware of our ingratitude that often takes root in our financial expectations.
Don’t Have Demanding Expectations
Don’t expect to rise to the top earning position in your company. Don’t expect to eventually move into the wealthiest neighborhood in your town. Don’t expect that you will never experience financial hardship.
Now this is not to say that you cannot have ambitions, but there is a difference between ambitions and demanding expectations.
You can strive ambitiously for that highest earning position, but you should not expect or demand that it be handed to you just because you feel you deserve it.
When you *expect* or *demand* that something happen, you fall into the trap of, “I deserve it,” which steals gratitude from your attitude.
Without an attitude of gratitude financial contentment cannot be reached.
Do Know You Will Struggle
Being financially content is not a race where you reach the finish line and then you forever live out your days in financial contentment. It is instead a renewable resource we need to constantly be planting, cultivating, and harvesting.
For instance, for months now I have been thrilled that our family was able to purchase a RV with cash and plan an awesome trip to go on with it. Just last week our family spent an amazing week on the shores of lake Michigan in that brand new RV and yet what did I find myself doing? I found myself ogling the “bigger and better” RV’s in the campground.
It took just one day at the campground to go from feeling financially content in our decision to falling into comparison and letting it drag me down in its trap of more…more…more.
Don’t Give Up Practicing
Practicing financial contentment is a daily exercise. We must be disciplined to keep our blessings in the forefront of our minds and to have our eyes open to opportunities to give.
When I found myself dreaming of a bigger RV, I took a moment to reminded myself that my family is extremely blessed to own the RV we do own and we truly don’t need more.
I also stopped going out for my nightly tour of the campground and started going hiking on the trails instead, which brings me to a few tips on how to be successful at practicing financial contentment.
A Few Simple Ways to Successfully Practice Financial Contentment
Stop the flow of financial comparison at its source
If HGTV is causing you to think your house isn’t good enough–turn it off. If those magazines fill you with “I want”–stop reading them. If walking in that neighborhood fills you with envy–find a city park or trail to walk on instead.
Take some time each day to list your blessings
Give now out of your excess and yes, you have excess
You might think you have little to give, but chances are you have plenty.
Are you a couponer/bargain finder? Give some of your great coupon finds away to local food banks. If you find a cart full of .50 cents a pair mittens (this thrifty gal has!) pick up what your family needs plus 4 more pairs and drop them off at the homeless shelter, it will only cost you $2 plus a bit of time.
Struggling with household clutter? Take some time to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or Lose 200 Pounds This Weekend (this second book made me toss 3 truckloads of stuff out of my house in one weekend) and then use the inspiration to dump the household clutter and give what still is worthy of using to a local thrift store where the proceeds will help those in need in your community.
Do you have a talent that others would love to learn or a church or community organization could use? Giving does not just have to be of money or thing–it can also be our time. If you are a great carpenter perhaps there is a community theater in great need of your skill for set building. Do you love to sing and have teaching skills as well? Perhaps your church needs a children’s choir director or your community theater theater needs a children’ choir teacher.
Yes, if you are a christian as I am you know that the Bible clearly states we should give not just from our excess but also sacrificially, yet I think giving from our excess is a great place to start.
Know you are human
Financial discontentment is something everyone struggles with regardless with the size of their paycheck.
Do not shame yourself if you have a bad day that ended in you silently screaming “but why do they get____and I only get___?”
Instead, wipe the slate clean with some time spent listing your blessings and remember: financial contentment begins not with a bigger paycheck, but with an attitude of gratitude for what you currently have.
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.
Read The Book That Inspired The Post
I am still working through the pages of Satisfied, but it is already making me more aware of the financial discontentment traps the consumer world we live in sets for us.
Here is an excerpt from the book’s landing page on Amazon:
“Satisfied is for those drowning in debt, but also those getting farther and farther ahead financially. It is for those who have forgotten who they are and mistakenly equate their self-worth with their net worth. It is for those who are crippled by comparison. It is for those with full closets and empty souls.”
If you are struggling with constant feelings of financial discontentment there is help within the pages of Satisfied.
For further information on fighting financial discontentment:
Get snail-e-mail in your inbox each week!
A weekly email with the feel of snail mail. A peek into my week, a few deals so good I just have to share, and links to all of Snail Pace Transformations latest posts!