My heart pounded. My body went weak with desire. I knew it was true love at first sight.
The object of my desire, though, was not a gorgeous human— (that came a few months later!) —reader, I had fallen in love with a bit of metal and stone.
A ridiculous, extravagant, over-the-top gorgeous vintage diamond ring. Emerald-cut, double halo setting, come to me lover, you were made just for me….ohhh, I wanted it bad. It was meant to be.
HA!!! Except the gods were laughing at me. Because NO WAY did I have the money for it.
Have you ever been in that spot???
When you want something SO BADLY but it seems impossible?
When you can taste it, you’re yearning for it, your eyes water for it, and you know in some deep way that it has a larger significance?
When your soul says YES…but your pocketbook says “YOU’RE CRAZY”?
What do you do then?
Last week I talked to you about how I did indeed end up buying myself that EFBA ring— how it was a powerful talisman and an important rite of passage, and I wear it every day to remind me to be an epic effing badass.
It was a galvanizing ritual: a declaration that I didn’t need to wait for someone else to make me happy. I decided I could go ahead and create my own happiness!
But let’s get down to brass tacks.
How did I, as a single mom supporting my daughter and myself off my solopreneur business, ever afford something as extravagant as a diamond ring?
Well it wasn’t luck and it wasn’t a credit card, and it’s the same way I still save up for “ridiculous” things, whether that’s a pair of designer jeans or a luscious painting or big bunches of peonies for my dining room table. So let’s get practical.
How To Save Up for What You Want (even when it seems impossible!)
1. I got very clear on what mattered to ME. I wanted a sparkly ring SO BADLY that I could almost taste it. I felt silly about this yearning for a lot of reasons, but the truth was that I WANTED it. That clarity is what gave me the fuel to set all sorts of things in motion. Sometimes we end up with a life that looks good on paper, one that’s full of things we think we ought to want. But what you REALLY want? Scary! Scandalous! Vulnerable! What if want you want is wrong? (Because hello, conflict diamonds.) What if you want is embarrassing? (Because hello, cliche.) What if you admit what you want but you still can’t have it? (Hello, grief.) It’s a little bit radical to get very honest with yourself about what you really, truly want. What about you? Do you have a secret desire for something that you feel a little scandalized by? Are you afraid to tell anyone because they will tell you you’re silly or extravagant or impractical? Hold on to that fire, baby— it’s sacred fire.
***Moral: the fire of your longing is powerful fuel.***
2. I created a “pot” of money designated just for that ring. I created a special bank account that ONLY held money I was saving up for that ring. It was a savings account linked to my online checking account, so I could easily move money into without any fees. But it kept the special savings money from being accidentally spent on groceries, or a night out— it had a boundary keeping it safe. The kind of container doesn’t matter— it could just as easily be a jar of coins, or a box of cash under the bed, or a category within your budget. What’s important is that it has clear EDGES. When our money gets all mixed together, it has a lot of competing needs vying for it, and it’s easier to spend mindlessly, unconsciously. The edges of that virtual pot held space for what was going to be.
***Boundaries make space for new things to be born.***
3. Anything extra went into that pot. If I got some money for a birthday present, or I cashed in some credit card points, or I got a $10 rebate on something I wasn’t expecting— all of that went straight into my ring fund. It became almost a game. I sold off all my old clothes, old DVDs, and any books I didn’t love. I sold some old coins and jewelry I’d had knocking around in a drawer for years. None of the amounts were large, but because they all got devoted exclusively to that one single purpose, I could see it growing steadily. There were rules to the game. I made myself meet all my commitments first. I use a budgeting system called YNAB that lets me be really deliberate about every dollar I spend, and I made myself always fulfill my grownup responsibilities before funneling money into my ring fund. I still had to contribute to my retirement savings; I still had to put aside some money every month for medical and car emergencies; I still saved up deliberately for those big seasonal expenses like holidays and summer camps. But after I had done my adulting, I let myself get as creative and wily as I wanted to see how much I could put toward my ring each month. And it paid off!
***Your creativity and wily resourcefulness are crazy powerful when put in the service of something you truly want.***
4. I got very clear on what I was willing to forgo. I don’t have endless piles of money; in fact, sometimes people are surprised that I draw a fairly modest salary from my business. But with the money I did have, I was very deliberate about what I was willing to do without. I drove an old ten-year car; I didn’t have a big flatscreen tv or cable; I didn’t have fancy kitchen appliances. I didn’t buy any new clothes for months. I trimmed my hair myself. In other words, I was willing to scrimp hard in some places so that I could splurge in others. This meant PASSING UP GOOD DEALS. This means saying “Not now, maybe later.” This meant saying no to REALLY FUN THINGS. But because I was doing all this in service of something that I wanted so badly, it didn’t create a sense of scarcity or lack— it made me feel proud and savvy that I was willing to make unconventional choices. Sure, sometimes it was hard to see all the things that people around me had— big houses, shiny new cars, glamorous vacations— it was easy to feel silly and small and deprived. But when I was really still and quiet, I knew in my heart that those things weren’t what really mattered to me. I wanted to spend my money on flowers and meals out with friends and—yep—a gorgeous ring.
***When you make powerful choices, they don’t feel like a sacrifice; they feel like WINNING.***
5. I was patient. Sure I could have bought myself a ring with a credit card, but I wanted to save up the money first and pay for it up front. It was a matter of integrity with myself. But I knew that meant the ring might be gone by the time I was ready. Because honestly, it took forEVER, guys. Most months I’d add less than $100 to the ring fund. But month after month after month, I just kept letting it grow by tiny impossibly little increments. I remember when I started that account, it had $59 in it. It felt so stupid and pointless to think I’d ever save up thousands. But I kept at it. Month after month, I’d look at that steadily burgeoning little fund and think, “I should turn this into savings for a down payment on a house,” or “Maybe I should try to invest this money for retirement,” or “Maybe we should just take a real vacation like everyone does.” There are many many people who would absolutely think that was a better use of that money. They might even think that I was foolish to spend it the way I did. They’re totally entitled to those opinions, but I am also entitled to mine, which is that there was something magic about that ring. Because you see there came a tipping point, dear reader, where suddenly I realized I was in sight of my goal, and then I moved freaking heaven and earth to get to the final finish line. And then? IT WAS MINE. I put it on my finger Christmas morning. I wear it every day along with my wedding ring, and it reminds me that I can make seemingly impossible things happen. (Oh, and about that magic? A few months after I bought that ring, I fell in love with the love of my life and my whole life took a new direction.)
***Slow and consistent will move mountains, even if to the rest of the world it just looks like a landslide.***
I’m still using all these approaches right now with my money. I’m telling the truth to myself (and my husband) about what really matters to me, and listening to what matters to him. We’re creating containers to give those things room to happen. We’re bringing all our creativity and unconventional problem-solving to the table. We’re saying no to some things so we can say yes to others. We’re being patient….even though we’re not very patient people!
We have a few new pots of money going these days. They hold ridiculously small amounts, given what we hope they’ll do someday. It would be easy to laugh them off, or to spend the funds on more toys for the kids, or buy new shoes even though let’s face it the ones I already have are fabulous, or any number of things. But I’ve got my eye on those pots. I’ll keep watering them and watching them grow. And I have faith in the process now, and I also have a bit of beauty on my finger to remind me that it really does work.
I’m going to be talking more about money here in the next few weeks, because it’s such an important energy in our life, but it’s also one shrouded in a lot of secrecy and shame for many of us. I think that like most things, we’re all a little stronger when we bring it all out into the light like the epic effing badasses that we all are.
That’s how we make it all gorgeous: with light, and intention, and truth-telling, and declarations. And some really practical tools.
So here’s to you and your wealth, dearheart! The truth is, when we’re paying attention, we’re all rrrrrich. So let’s live into that.