Do you ever get that feeling of pure, unadulterated joy? I experienced it this summer. My 7-year old son purchased a scooter for $4 at a garage sale. We went out for a family walk, and I wanted to "live a little." I hopped on the scooter, chasing my 3-year old on the tricycle. It was such a great feeling … wind in my hair, not a care in the world, feeling like a kid again.
As adults, we can feel so saddled with responsibility. Can you relate? When did you last act like a kid?
So you’re probably wondering what this has to do with money. This story illustrates two points:
1) You don’t need to spend a fortune to have fun.
In fact, some of the most wonderful memories are free or low cost. Outdoor movies, neighborhood and church gatherings, and library events are just a few examples of things to do with the broader community. Catching lightning bugs, having a movie and pizza night, or playing board games as a family can be just as entertaining. These are memories that will stay with you for a long time and cost little to nothing. When you see the joy in your child’s face, it can’t help but bring back great memories from your childhood.
2) Celebrate small wins with simple rewards.
Whenever you hit a milestone or goal, celebrate it! These milestones can be personal or professional. Did you reach your joint savings goal last month? Make a wise investment decision? Give more to charity than originally thought possible? Earned a raise at work? Signed a big client? Pay off a credit card or student loan? All of these add to your bottom line and should be applauded. You need not go overboard to celebrate though. Maybe instead of a fancy dinner, you can grab that favorite coffee at Starbucks or eat a delicious dessert.
Hopefully this goes without saying, but don’t let every “good” financial decision turn into a tangible reward. Or you could end up right where you started. If something becomes a habit, it can feel less special over the long run. Over time, you’ll develop an intrinsic sense of reward for a job well done.
Remember, it is all about small steps. Maybe you want to be debt free by 2020. Or have $1 million for retirement. These are audacious goals that won’t happen overnight. Develop a schedule to evaluate and review those goals quarterly or annually – and treat yourself if you’ve made significant progress. After all, you’re worth it.
Deb Meyer, CPA, CFP(R)