What do you see in the above picture?
Do you see the growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers?
Or do you see the yellowish burned patchy lawn, and all the weeds?
Mrs. T and I were talking about this the other day. You see, when we step outside into our garden, Mrs. T sees all the flowers, and all the vegetables and herbs that we are growing. She feels happy and excited about all the plants growing in our garden and the yield we'll get in the near future. On the other hand, when I step out into our garden, I see all the weeds growing. I see weeds growing in the lawn and all over the garden. The weeds are taking over!!!
Although the items being presented in front of our eyes are the same, Mrs. T and I see them very differently. Mrs. T focuses on the growing potential of the plants while I focus on the weeds that I want to get rid of in our garden.
How we perceive our garden means we respond differently to what is growing there. Upon seeing her nice garden and all the growing potentials, Mrs. T is happy, she wants to take care of the plants, vegetables, and herbs to make sure that they can continue to grow nicely and provide us with foods throughout the year. She is focusing on the awesome harvests in the near future. On the other hand, I get frustrated with all the weeds growing. I will pull the weeds out manually and feel this process will never end. Because the more weeds I pull out, the more weeds I see in our garden. The more I focus on getting rid of the weeds, the more weeds I see, isn't that odd?
Isn't it funny that how we see things greatly influence our reactions?
Obviously I'm focusing on the wrong things when it comes to our garden. I am focusing on all the negatives, like the never ending weeding. Instead I could focus on the positives, such as making the lawn luscious and focus on all the growing potential in our garden.
Compare the following two phrases: Weeding that never seems to end vs. making the lawn luscious.
One phrase is very negative while the other one is very positive. I would say when we focus on the negatives, all we see are the negative things in life and more and more of it too. Furthermore, we will attract negative things into our life, because we are sending out negative vibrations. On the other hand, when we focus on the positives, all we see are the positive things in life. Because we send out positive vibrations, we will attract more positive things into our life.
Not surprisingly, the same concept can be applied to personal finance as well.
Do you focus on the positives or the negatives of your personal finances?
What are some negatives of personal finance that we tend to focus on?
Some might focus on all the debt that they have. They focus on getting rid of the debt. People who are extremely budget focused tend to look at every single small expense and feel bad about spending any unnecessary money or not making their own toothpaste to save an extra dollar or two. They also tend to get frustrated with potential unplanned expenses at the end of the month. I was like that when we had our financial epiphany and started our quest for financial independence.
The above scenario is like focusing on all the weeds in the yard. The focus here is on all the negatives of personal finance. When we do that, we may feel guilty for spending money. We feel guilty to even pamper ourselves slightly. The guilt eventually takes over and we feel completely overwhelmed whenever we need to spend money. We become Uncle Scrooge!
How can we instead focus on the positives of personal finance?
Instead of focusing on getting rid of debt, focus on growing our net worth. How do we do that? First, we can focus on increasing our savings. Next determine where our savings should go to provide the highest rate of return. If the credit card interest is 20% and the stock investment return is 5%, then it makes sense to "invest" the savings on the credit card balance; if the car loan is 0.99% and the stock investment return is 5%, then it makes sense to "invest' the savings on stocks.
Instead of scrutinizing every single expenses in the budget, focus on spending wisely, like purchasing quality products that will last longer, or buying used to save on taxes. Focusing on growing passive income streams, and focusing on learning to become more efficient with personal finances by using tools and apps, and last but not least focus on convenient ways to expedite the financial independence journey. This was what I personally did, going from focusing on the negatives of personal finance to focusing on the positives of personal finance.
Have you heard the phrase what you focus on expands? Trust me, this is a real thing. If we spend every minute of our life focusing on the negatives of personal finance, like getting rid of debt, we will never get out of debt, instead we will actually create more debt. On the other hand, if we focus on growing our net worth, our debt will eliminate itself automatically over time and our net worth will flourish and FI will come sooner rather than later.
The yard example is a nice reminder that I still have to improve my positive outlook. While I'm doing better at being positive with personal finances, I still need some work in other areas of my life, such as how I look at our garden or how I react when I'm driving in heavy traffic.
Given the choice, I'd rather focus on the positives rather than the negatives in life. Why? Because focusing on the positives in life is an easier and a simpler task and once you get used to it and see the benefits of it, there is no going back :).
There is a very fine line between being positive and being negative. Often the difference is as simple as your choice of words. For examples, rather than saying that you're doing not bad at all, say that you're doing great, rather than saying you won't go to bed too late, say that you'd go to bed early. Focusing on the positives in life will allow us to be much much happier in the long run.