How to Avoid Financial Kryptonite
You may not realize it, but your friends and neighbors are out to get you. They may smile and nod, and be polite, but they’re really plotting your downfall.
Or not. But they probably aren’t helping you build your financial health, particularly if you spend most of your time acting like Clark Kent, and not enough like Superman.
You may remember Clark Kent—polite, unassuming and generally an all-around nice guy, but also somewhat of a pushover and not very self-confident. And whenever trouble came around, he often ended up in a ditch, his glasses all askew.
Beware the Evil F.O.M.O.
So who are some of the financial bad guys that can push you over the edge? Well, keep an eye out for sneaky and insidious FOMO, dark lord of the financial underworld, also known as the Fear Of Missing Out.
Ever made a reservation at a trendy new restaurant because it was the place to go even though it was way out of line with your normal spending? That was the stealthy handiwork of FOMO.
Have you ever felt pressured to tag along for a spa day with friends even though you were hoping to put that $50 into savings this month? FOMO was there along for the ride.
FOMO lurks everywhere, because as this recent article in The Guardian explains, the multitude of options that we have nowadays can “make it harder to feel good about your life’s choices. Choice is an inherently stressful luxury, especially in a culture that suggests it’s possible to have it all.”
How do you say no to a day at the spa? By remembering that you have dreams and goals, and that the only way you’re ever going to achieve them is by making them a priority. It helps to say those goals out loud when turning something down. “I can’t go to the spa, because I’m saving up for a downpayment on my first house.” “I can’t go to the spa, because I’m saving for a trip to Ireland. My sister lives there, and I haven’t seen her in years.” Saying no becomes easier if you always have your goals in sight.
The best weapon against FOMO’s temptations is having enough confidence in your choices that you gain the power to say no. Building up your confidence and self-esteem is the ultimate way to fight off temptations brought on by social pressures. When you stop doing things just to please others, you gain the financial freedom to do the things that truly please you.
And that is one financial superpower that allows you to take the next step.
Tap Your Inner Superhero
By staying focused on what brings you joy and fulfilment (and discounting the opinions of others), you will find it easier to make decisions that are right for you. If a spending decision doesn’t feel right for you, trust your gut and respect your intuition. Studies have shown that up to 9 times out of 10, this is the smartest choice you can make.
And while you can’t practice leaping tall buildings in a single bound or being faster than a speeding bullet, there are ways to hone your intuition and supercharge your self-esteem:
1. Create Your Own Superhero Club: Surround yourself with like-minded people. Meeting other folks who share common values and interests is an empowering and rewarding experience. You’ll trade war stories, learn new skills and gain confidence in your goals.
2. Strengthen Your Superpowers: Take up a hobby or cultivate a skill that fits within your financial means. There is nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment that comes from learning something new, especially when its your interests and not those of FOMO.
3. Complete Simple Challenges: Sometimes the most heart-warming acts of Superman’s strengths were simple things like saving a lost kitten from a tree or a stumbling pedestrian from certain doom. So why not do the same? Make it a habit to set small and attainable weekly goals and reward yourself when you fulfill them. It will give you the confidence to set your sights on even more challenging tasks. Even packing your own lunch three times a week and rewarding yourself with a delicious cupcake from that awesome bakery down the street will remind you of your strength within.
Don’t Keep Up with the Luthors
Superman never drove a fancy car, wore expensive clothes, or had a fat bank account, though with all his powers he certainly could. Yet these are the very same things that drove Lex Luthor to dizzying heights of madness.
We’re all guilty of doing the same when we try to keep up with the Joneses. We throw bigger parties, get nicer apartments or buy fancier cars. The craziest part of this rat race is that we often don’t actually want to spend that money—we just feel like we have to.
But remind yourself that, “People were created to be loved, things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos right now is because things are being loved, and people are being used.”
So what if you can’t afford expensive gifts, or a pricey spa day? Real relationships and true community is not built on money. The best gift is the opportunity to connect with others. Just as Superman took Lois Lane for a romantic flight over the city, you can use your new financial superpowers to host a potluck dinner, show off your new crocheting skills, or swap trendy outfits with your friends.
Don’t Be Afraid of Kryptonite
True richness is the ability to live the life we imagine for ourselves. When we let the opinions of others sway our decisions, we get in the way of our own happiness. Don’t let social conformity be the kryptonite to your financial health. You can always find a way to handle a situation without bruising anyone’s ego, including your own.
There will always be pressures to conform (from friends, family, companies, and colleagues). Even Superman became Clark Kent so he too could fit in. But at the end of the day, he was always Superman and never hesitated to show his true self when challenged by his foes.
So remember, you are the only person who knows what’s best for you. Trust in your ability to make the right choices, tap your financial strengths, forget about the rat race, and don’t be afraid of challenges. Your finances will thank you for it, and more importantly, you’ll be happier!
Your turn: Have you ever been pressured to do or buy something you didn’t want? If yes, what did you do to get out of it—if you could?