I have been having a lot of financial angst lately and have leaned heavily on some of my financial planner friends for comfort and advice. Which is how I came to meet Natalie Wagner, a money wellness coach at VitalFinancials. And no, this isn't a post about how the heck you save for college when you're paying the equivalent of that for daycare; we'll get there, I promise. This is about spending on you; why you do it and how to get the most out of it.
Here's Natalie's advice:
“I don’t need an expensive retreat to have a spiritual experience. I am a spiritual experience!”
- Sophie E., VitalFinancials client
Self-care is when we do something kind for ourselves that brings Energy in, leaving us feeling satisfied and with a sense of joy.
Self-indulgence is when we go too far in trying to show ourselves affection; the energy that goes out is ultimately greater than what we bring in, and the act becomes hollow.
But sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. And when it comes to our money, how do we recognize when our spending will result in self-love, and when we’re buying extravagances that will leave us energetically depleted?
My client, Sophie, deeply values spiritual experiences. When her yoga teacher invited her on an international yoga/meditation retreat, her first instinct was to sign up immediately. Yet, something held her back.
The retreat would cost several thousand dollars. Although she had the funds, she also had other meaningful parts of her life that call for money. What’s more, her current place in life had her inclined towards simplicity, and she felt unsure whether travel would expand and replenish her soul, or leave her feeling tired and yearning for home. She decided to take some time before signing up.
Soon after, Sophie took a trip to the local zoo with her daughter and granddaughter. The day was delightful – three generations exploring elephants and iguanas, smelling spring flowers and enjoying each other’s company. After spending roughly $100, she felt like she’d received priceless self-nourishment.
At home, Sophie began to think about the retreat in contrast to the zoo and realized something. Going on the retreat might sound amazing – even be amazing – but the self-care she truly needed was right in front of her. With a confident heart, she forewent the retreat and bought a family membership to the zoo.
I love Sophie’s story because it illustrates the blurry line between self-care and self-indulgence. A spiritual retreat can be an amazing way to care for yourself – but there is more to it than that. Whether something is self-caring or self-indulgent varies from person to person and across the span of our lives. Though this retreat was surely perfect for another yogi, at this point in Sophie’s journey, it was an unnecessary and expensive distraction.
So how did she reach this bold and honest conclusion? In our coaching session, Sophie and I explored the dynamics at play as different forms and amounts of energy moving in and out. While Sophie would have received energy through the spiritually enriching content of the retreat, she saw that the traveling, time away from her home and family, and money spent were all forms of energy going out. For her, the energy out would be greater than the energy coming in, and would leave her depleted. When she was honest with herself about this, the right decision naturally rose to the top.
When you’re looking to send yourself some love, turn inwards and consider the energy you would spend versus receive. Consider the amount of money as one of the valuable forms of energy at play. What does the money mean to you? How does this fit in with the other dynamics at play?
To be self-caring instead of self-indulging, your actions must ultimately bring energy back to yourself. Using your money intentionally for self-care will sustain you and inspire your inner vitality.*