AP – In some ways, feeling “rich” is less about how many zeroes you have in your bank account and more about knowing how to use them to get what you want out of life.
For Liz Gendreau, founder of the website Chief Mom Officer, that feeling comes from taking advantage of free, fun activities like visiting local state parks in her home state of Connecticut.
And financial counsellor Andi Wrenn in Raleigh, North Carolina, finds that feeling when she climbs into her RV and goes for a road trip.
“Richness comes from having small, tangible financial goals that you’re working towards,” said Assistant professor of personal financial planning Megan McCoy at Kansas State University.
Those goals could be paying off student loan debt, buying a house, or something unique.
We asked financial experts to share their tips for how to feel richer today, given the current levels of financial uncertainty and stress.
Gendreau knows that cars aren’t important to her but family time is. So instead of spending money on a new car, she puts her money into family activities. She stretches her budget on those, too, by taking advantage of free museum passes, local libraries and free state parks.
“It’s all about finding fun things to do that don’t really cost much money but bring a lot of joy and happiness,” she said. Indulging in those kinds of adventures gives her that feeling of being rich, even though they aren’t costly.
Corley, author of the book Rich Habits, calls that strategy “value-based spending”.
He encourages people to think about what’s really important to them, such as travel or spending time with friends and family, and to focus on directing money towards those areas, instead of material goods that might not provide as much joy.
That joy-focussed approach can also help with feelings of financial envy.
“If you don’t have value-based spending, then you can fall victim to comparing yourself to others and lifestyle creep”, which is when spending grows along with income, Corley warned.
McCoy said that when we constantly compare ourselves with richer neighbours or influencers on Instagram, it’s easy to be dissatisfied.
“We need healthy comparisons. Is there someone else you could compare yourself to, such as your past self, or your aunt who worked so hard and got the retirement of her dreams?”
Gendreau suggested hiding posts on social media from people who inspire feelings of jealousy or putting your own spin on them.
“If I see something that looks like a lot of fun at a fancy place that’s outside my budget, I might think, ‘Can I do something similar at a lower price point? Do I need to go to a fancy beach place or can I go to a closer place?’ I don’t need to go to the Caribbean to have fun on the beach.”
“You are going to make mistakes,” said financial counsellor and coach Heath Carelock, who is based out of Prince George’s County, Maryland.
To move past them, he said, it’s important to forgive yourself and to build up a financial cushion. When he was starting out in the working world, he gave himself what he called the “1-2-3-4-5” challenge: He saved USD123.45 out of every pay cheque.