The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist is not your typical personal finance book. It does not go into how to get out of debt or where to put your retirement investments. Instead, it is a thoughtful book that reminds us that we already have enough. We have probably all heard that the endless pursuit of more does not lead to an enjoyed life. It only leads to a need for more. The issue for many of us is that we forget this simple idea, especially when we listen too closely to the consumerism in society. Twist shares her transformation away from the mindless pursuit of more towards a more aligned lifestyle for herself and her family.
Twist’s book is a call to action. She call us out to review our lives and the ways we use money. Her focus on giving is amazing as is her emphasis on leaving behind a legacy rather than material goods. The book begins with her realization that although she said her family was the most important thing, her actions did not show this. Her children were being brought up by a nanny while she and her husband focused on creating the “right” outer life. She began to change her route thanks to her involvement with The Hunger Fund, which aimed to end world hunger. She is now a celebrated speaker and has helped many people do good work with their money.
For me, the main takeaway from her book is how she debunked scarcity as the only way of living. She breaks down scarcity thinking into three myths:
1. There is Not Enough – There may not be enough for everyone to live like a Kardashian, but there is enough for everyone to be fed.
2. More is Better – Moderation is its own reward as anyone who has gone into debt or struggled with addiction can attest. Notorious B.I.G was right “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”, or at the very least more need for insurance.
3. It’s Always Been Like This – Mindlessly following the path society has laid out for us can be an easy out to the tough work of defining our own life. Life is much too short to be lived according to someone else’s wishes
As an alternative to the narrative of “not enough” Twist proposes that we start to cultivate a sense of sufficiency. While abundance comes from a place of “More is Better,” sufficiency has us consider that we can thrive with what we have.
Of course, as soon as I decided to write a post on sufficiency extra expenses and time commitments came up. This month had some pricey events including a wedding, a weekend Bachelorette trip, my grandmother’s birthday, a music festival, and over $200 in medical bills for a hip injury. I also added onto my busy schedule four volunteer commitments, all while getting used to taking courses for the Certified Financial Planner certificate. There were several times I felt panic coming on whenever I thought that I did not have enough money to cover these expenses and that I was overstretched when it comes to time.
This was an unusually expensive month for me and it took effort to keep in mind the ideal of sufficiency. In order to accommodate my extra expenses I’ve cut down on eating out and at home I’m on a vegetarian diet. Regardless, I don’t feel deprived or continuously stressed because I plan for months like these. In my post on budgeting I shared that every month I put money into my “Big Wants” fund that is set aside for large expenses like weddings and concerts. This month I had used up everything in my “Big Wants” fund when I realized I needed to cancel an event I had planned to attend because of a scheduling conflict. That meant $200 reappeared in my fund.
When I take a step back and look at this month I see that a lot of it was used celebrating others and the city I live in. The time that I am investing in volunteer opportunities gives me a sense of community. I see that I have a full life. Whenever I get stressed about finishing my never ending “to-do” list I remember what psychologist and author Richard Carlson says: “Remind yourself that when you die, your “in basket” won’t be empty.” When I take a moment to be mindful I can even be grateful that my life is so big.
What is Sufficiency for You?
Maria Popova from Brain Pickings recently reviewed another book along these lines: “The New Better Off” by Courtney Martin. Martin beautifully describes how people move away from consumerism towards authenticity. She points out that although it is much easier to simply consume stuff and prepackaged ideas, the time and effort it takes to develop one’s own true North is worth it.
I didn’t think I would write a post at all this month because I feel so stretched for time. However, here it is. It is my gift to you my readers and to myself. I am invigorated every time I share my thoughts on money and eudaimonia. Finding my true North has given me more energy and satisfaction. I hope that you too have your true North and that the way you use your money reflects it.