It’s Not About The Money . . . Or Is It?

Although Jessie J urges us to “forget about the price tag” because “it’s not about the money”, it usually is about the money.

Or is it?

This is a question, actually more like a conundrum, that I have been faced with many times. It started with making the decision to attend a private college in the States. My parents weren’t able to pay for my tuition, and, after piecing together grants, loans, and scholarships, I made the big decision to attend a $35,000 a year institution (this was in 1998). Then, I made an even bigger decision to attend a $50,000 a year law school, not giving much thought as to how much it would actually cost me to attend and graduate from law school. Neither time did I have a safety net or any idea how I would pay it all back. I simply signed on the dotted line and committed myself to decades of monthly installment payments.

Most recently, I made sweeping changes in my professional life. I left the traditional practice of law and followed my gut towards the profession of coaching. I faced the decision of hiring my own coach at a fraction of the price of college and law school. And when I say a fraction, I mean it. The price tag to hire my coach would not have even covered the cost of one semester of room or board.

$13,000 v. $250,000. The decision seems easy. So why was I agonizing over $13,000? Why was it easier to spend $250,000 (and more after compound interest) than to invest a fraction of that on myself? And there lies the answer. I essentially committed myself to $250k+++ in debt for more years than I can count and just chalked up the crippling debt to well, it’s what I’m supposed to do, or it will make others happy, or I’ll be proving myself to the world. In other words, it’s “acceptable” debt. Comfortable debt.

And here’s where my journey continues. I sat with this. I allowed myself to feel the discomfort and the utter fear around how I would pay off $13,000 for this coaching program. And I practiced trust. Despite doing all of that, I agonized over the decision. I felt like I couldn’t justify it. I mean, what would people say? What am I getting out of it?  Will I be walking away with a degree?  Who is going to accept those credentials?  What if it doesn’t work out?

The odd thing is that no one asked me those questions when I was amassing a mortgage-sized debt (with no house to show for it) on two private educations. However, all those questions apply equally to my decision to attend college and law school. What are you getting out of it?  Will you be walking away with a degree?  Who is going to accept those credentials?  What if it doesn’t work out? Not many people have heard of the law school I went to, especially once you leave the Chicago area. Some jobs didn’t want to accept my credentials because they thought I was over qualified and wouldn’t be happy because, well, I’m a lawyer. And, what if it doesn’t work out?  It’s incredibly difficult to make a decision to leave a profession that you have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in because, then what?  What was it all for?  It’s definitely been the source of a lot of stress and anxiety in trying to make the ultimate decision to leave the law.

So, is it about the money or not?

No. It’s not about the money.

Well, it’s never just about the money. Stay with me here.

It’s never about the money, at least not entirely. It’s about following our gut and trusting that we are making the best decisions for ourselves. It’s about believing that we are enough, that we are worth making an investment in (no matter the price tag) and truly knowing that we are supported. Always.

When fear around money starts to creep up, there is a deeper issue that is crying out for your attention. Perhaps it’s feeling like you don’t deserve it (how many of us have agonized over spending $50 for a pedicure?) or fear that others will judge you for your decisions. Perhaps it’s hard to admit that you are afraid to evolve and are scared to step outside of your comfort zone. And if it is only about the money, perhaps it’s an invitation to truly and deeply trust that you are supported now and always, and when you do, you’ll see that the money always appears for those things that we do to evolve ourselves. (It has for me, in the craziest ways imaginable!)

I’m not advocating for you to go out and spend massive amounts of money and then throw a penny into a fountain and wish that it all be returned to you tenfold. It’s bigger than that. It’s about being intentional in how you spend your money and doing so in a way that grows and expands you. It’s about making a wise investment, be it in a coach, a degree, or an extended vacation. It’s about listening to your gut, asking a lot of questions, letting go, and trusting.

So next time you are faced with a decision to make an investment in you (whether it’s a pedicure or a high level coaching program) remember this: you are worth it, you deserve it, you’ll know if it’s the right thing for you, and if you trust, the money will appear.

Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like. –Will Rogers

Photo Credit:  Journey Photography