Ah, summer vacation. Many of us try to refresh ourselves with a week or more of travel, relaxation, or fun at this time of year. But there are others who can’t bring themselves to spend money on enjoyment. The possibility of pleasure from seeing new sights, visiting loved ones, or exploring a favorite hobby doesn’t even show up as an
acceptable choice on their radar screen.
After years of exploring clients’ money messages and money personalities, I know there are lots of people who are simply unable to pamper themselves. This column is for them–and for any of you who have a hard time enjoying the wealth you’ve worked so hard to accumulate.
Q: A client of mine for years, now widowed, would like to move out of her rather modest house into an upscale condo. But even though I’ve assured her she can afford it, she worries that she doesn’t have enough money. How can I help her see that the move is financially okay?
A: Before you can help her, you may need to know more about the reason for her worry. Did she come from a very wealthy family that discouraged ostentation, or from a very poor one where humility and frugality were valued? Or perhaps she’s reflecting her late husband’s reluctance to spend money on anything too lavish.
Once you understand the source of her resistance, you may be able to explore with her the pros and cons of choosing to move. Help her identify her goals and dreams, as well as the values she cherishes. If spending money on herself troubles her social conscience, you and she may be able to come up with ways she can contribute time, energy, and money to causes she believes in, without sacrificing her yearning for a more comfortable life.
Once you explore all these avenues, you may find her more open to relocating. You can then reiterate all the facts and figures (in writing, so she can review them over and over) to justify her being able to afford this move.
Q: Although my client has supposedly retired, he’s still putting in 40-plus hours a week of volunteering and consulting for his old firm. His wife wants him to slow down so they can enjoy more time together. Can I help him learn to stop and smell the roses?
A: I’d sit down with this client, by himself at first, to explore this issue more fully. Why is it important for him to fill his life with constant activity? Does his need to feel useful come from his parents?
You might also ask him a scary question: if his wife were to die suddenly, would he regret not having spent more time enjoying their life together? If he says yes, it may lead him to step off the treadmill and spend more time relaxing and savoring life with her.