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Conscious Spending: In Search of Enough Money

Text by Brent Kessel, author of "It's Not About the Money"

"Do I have enough?" As a certified financial planner, I hear that question over and over again. 

I have many sophisticated tools to help transform receipts, old tax returns, and investment statements into a portrait of a person's financial future. Yet my efforts often deliver only part of the lasting security that there is enough.

That's because most of us are aiming at abundance (more of everything). The idea that we should really be focusing on is sufficiency -- that "just right" point where we have what we need to live but not so much that instead of owning our possessions, they own us. 

The paradox is that the less you focus on getting and spending, the more sufficient you'll actually feel -- and as a result, the easier your financial life will become.

The desire for more of everything is a losing game. To stop the cycle, you have to take a good, hard look at what you have.

How to Experience Sufficiency Right Now
1. Pinpoint your motivation. What do you keep buying? Jeans? Gadgets? Ask yourself why you feel the need for more. Do you believe these things will make you more successful or appealing? Will they?

2. Question your wants. When we believe our own stories (that one thing or another will somehow make us happier), we're often not fulfilling real needs but scratching an egotistical itch (and falling prey to a marketing scheme). 

Figure out what you're actually missing -- a creative outlet, time with your partner, time with yourself. Worst case? Wait it out. Cravings to spend, like cravings for sugar, can pass if they aren't indulged.

3. Want what you have. Focus on three things you already have in spades (yoga pants, face cream, unread books). How can you rediscover and truly appreciate them? 

The path to real sufficiency doesn't mean acquiring more than you'll ever use but realizing that, on many levels, you already have what you need.

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