Don't miss the little things
‘Would you like some help with that sweetie?’
‘No Dada, Rara do… Is not working, Dada help, is present for happy birthday’
This micro conversation was about opening a birthday card, my birthday card, last week. It was not enough for the little tucker to have ‘signed’ the card she’d already given me, she needed to open the card Alison had given me as well - What sort of a birthday would it be if you had to go through the laborious task of opening presents by yourself? Honestly, I’m not even sure how I managed it in the years before without the help I have now!
While the gifts I got were great, I know that long after they’re gone, this tiny moment in time will be what I look back on and smile about. If I were marketing a credit card to load up on over the festive season I might say:
“Envelope, 50 cents. Card, four dollars. Helping a daughter open the card she’s giving you… Priceless”
I was speaking with someone last week where setting goals was a big part of our conversation. Part of the conversation was around what seems to be important goals to set for different people, specifically when it comes to different generations.
It’s been said that the ‘baby boomers’ and the older of the ‘Gen X’s” have been avid collectors of ‘stuff’ over their years and possessions have been important (this is, of course, a generalisation). The family home was a necessity and upgrading to something bigger was ‘making it’. Along the way there’s been good furniture, crockery, artwork, the list goes on. All important ‘keepsakes’ of which their total often defines who they are as people.
The younger ‘Gen Y’ and ‘Millennial’ have bucked this course of living for ‘live for the moment’, ‘10 x life', and ‘YOLO’. There’s a much larger focus on travelling the world, music is rented not bought and ‘stuff’ is to be replaced with a newer model often. Their ‘battle cry’ is often ‘Experiences are better than possessions’
This got me thinking about how finances and happiness are intertwined, whether it’s in a good way or a bad way.
If the research is to be believed, the millennial concept of experiences are better that possessions idea seem to be the winner when it comes to happiness. It certainly seems that good memories provides more ongoing joy than a possession. But are they really that different when you think about it?
Both younger and older generations have either been caught in the trap of either keeping up with the Joneses or the Kardashian’s, depending on the age bracket. The quote below sums it up, albeit a little cynically.
"We buy shit we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like." -- George Carlin
A very large proportion of people, regardless of generation, have become focused on what they don’t have, rather than what they do. Whether it’s ‘keeping up with the Joneses next door, or racking up more credit card debt to buy the latest iPhone AND take another trip to Bali, so many people will punish their future self to indulge in something that’s a ‘must have’ now.
I’m all for being successful and using money to obtain a life that’s fulfilled. Too often, however, I see people missing out on the happiness around them, because their more impulsive decisions have made money become a cause of stress, not a tool to enrich their life.
We live in a world where the ‘haves’ think they’re ‘have not’s’ because the 1%er’s we see on social media and television have so much more. So many people take the concept of bettering their position in life to mean the position they currently have has no good in it already. They spend money on things they can’t afford and end up so stressed about their financial situation that they don’t get to enjoy what’s already around them.
We all hear the advice to be grateful for what you have around this time of year. I want to take this advice one step further and say actually look out for these little moments in time that make you smile, make you laugh and make a memory worth keeping. Start looking out for them now, because just like you should do the grocery shopping when you’ve already eaten, money you spend at this time of year should be done while you’re mindful of what you do have in your life, not what you’re missing out on.
Hopefully that's the 'key'to keeping the spending in check through the Christmas period.
The big goals and milestones are great and we should all aspire to reaching them. But don’t forget the little things, because it’s those little things that often stick with us the longest.