Oftentimes in personal finance we focus on the most practical of financial affairs. We teach you how to budget, how to go about getting a mortgage, or the best way to invest your money. Less often, we talk about our feelings and emotions, mostly related to greed or impulse or depression, as those seem to be the stimulus for some of our worst purchasing decisions. But what about those other emotions that don't get talked about? What about doubt? How would doubting yourself, doubting your spouse, or doubting a purchase, affect your finances? How does doubt affect your money? Here are a couple of ways that doubt could be costing you money.
One of the major movements behind minimalism is the desire to rid one's life of the stress from materialistic purchases. The less stuff one owns, the less stuff will cause one stress or anguish. The more things you own, the more things require maintenance, and the less time you can spend with the few things that you really truly enjoy. I once saw a show where they were walking through a mall confronting people about their purchases. When someone had bought a shirt, they asked, “how many other shirts do you already own”? Most could not even tell them how many they owned, just that they had “20 or 30” of them. For all they knew, they already had that same shirt at home – or at least one that already served the same function.
Once, I bought a second copy of a movie that I didn't remember I had already purchased (and watched!) I was in the store, and I could not remember if I owned it or not. I doubted that I had, and ended up with two copies. In another example, during a recent room renovation in my brother-in-law's house he needed to purchase a vent cover for a furnace outlet. When we went to a local hardware store to buy one, we realized that we did not have the measurement handy to know which cover would fit. Therefore, we ended up buying two different ones so that we could just use whichever worked. I am sure that he ended up returning the other cover, but not knowing what size we needed cost us time and energy. Do you know how much stuff you own? Do you know what you need? Or do you doubt yourself?
Doubting your instincts can costs you tons of money. Ever heard of the golden rule, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? Getting ripped off is something that everybody fears when they are making a big purchase. Whether it is buying a car, a house or a business, ignoring your instinct can prove to be financially disastrous. When you are making a big financial transaction, go with your gut. When my wife and I went to purchase a car, we found what we thought would be a good deal. Something about the dealership and the salesman didn't sit quite right with us, but having never purchased a vehicle we didn't know what it ought to feel like. Eventually we walked away from the dealer and we are very lucky we did as we found out later that they were trying to scam us. Inside each one of us there's something that recognizes when things just don't line up quite right. Maybe we don't always know what it is that is wrong, we just know that something does not make sense. It is during those moments that you have to realize that your gut instinct is telling you something – and that you should listen. You can't lose money in a purchase that you never make, so there is no harm in walking away. If the deal is meant to be, then it will still be there when things seem right.
What happens when you doubt yourself? How does it impact your work, or even your future work? If you doubt the quality of the work that you are producing, it will show to your co workers and your customers. If you show doubt, then others will doubt you too. What if you doubt yourself so much that you never try to move up in your company. You don't think you will get a raise, so you never ask. You don't think you will get a promotion so you don't apply, and of course you never do. Think of all the potential money lost over a career because you doubted yourself enough to not even give yourself a chance. At one of my previous jobs I heard how a coworker had gotten their promotion only because nobody else applied, including more experienced people. They really didn't deserve the promotion, but they got it because they were the only applicant. They gave themselves a chance, and the only thing that could have possibly gone wrong was that they didn't get the job. Doubting yourself can be the most costly mistake you ever make, because you actually have unlimited potential to make more money, but you can never attain that goal if you never let yourself believe that you can do it.
So how does one conquer doubt? You can beat purchasing doubt by keeping a home inventory, setting a budget, and researching your purchases. You can beat making bad purchases by getting in tune with yourself and learning how to walk away from deals that seem too good to be true, or deals that don't seem quite right. You can even beat the doubt that you have in yourself, but it won't be easy. It takes time and energy, and for some of us, outside help, to realize that we really are capable of more than we allow ourselves to believe. How is doubt stunting your financial life?