For years, my fear around money went something like this: I’d want to do something special, like take a vacation. I’d save the money to do it, and then, when it was time to pull the trigger ... I’d get really, really afraid. It wasn’t a fear that I didn’t have enough saved — it was a fear that once the money was spent, it was gone.
Growing up without a lot of money, I’d experienced food insecurity and knew what it was like to have a car break down by the side of the road or creditors call about unpaid bills. As I got older, I always assumed that someday, when I had enough cash saved, I’d finally treat myself to the things that I had always desired.
It was only after I was unable to actually spend money on myself that I realized something important: My fear wasn’t about the money.
If you've achieved financial security and are still afraid to spend, the fear of not having enough is usually indicative of a fear that you are not enough. You're actually afraid that you don’t have what it takes to withstand hard times. There are, of course, circumstances in which people genuinely do not have enough money. But in cases like mine, the fear is more a reflection of our selves than our wallets.
In order to practice courage with cash, I needed to stop thinking that once my money was spent, I’d be adrift without it. I had to trust my ability to recover from life’s challenges and create a new relationship with money in which it was used as a tool, not a rigidly grasped security blanket.
Here is a five-step process that I use to practice courage when spending money. May it help you do the same.