Aaron and I recently got home from Hawaii.
It was an amazing trip, particularly since we were able to visit both Maui and Oahu. We played at the beach, went snorkeling, hiked all over the place, visited the typical tourist sites. We did everything you are supposed to do when visiting Hawaii.
However, we spent very little money.
Aaron had to go to Hawaii for work, so we paid for my flight, a rental car and some of my food. I haven’t had time to total all of the bills, but for an 11-day trip, we spent less than $1,600.
Pretty awesome huh!
For two weeks my personal Instagram feed was full of amazing pictures and fun videos. I had a ton of friends tell me how jealous they were – heck, I was jealous of myself.
Very few people at that time knew how little we were spending for this vacation.
I’m not sure what a regular trip would have cost us, but can assume it would have been at minimum $4,000. Paying for hotel rooms alone would have easily added an additional $2,000, not to mention the extra flight.
We were very lucky to have had such a fun vacation for such an inexpensive price. Aaron had to work about half the time, but still had enough free time to enjoy the island. All in all, we came out ahead.
I must admit, it was really fun to have a small taste of the “high life”.
We definitely looked the part of high-rollers.
For one of the first times in my life, I saw how addictive the spending mentality can be.
It is so easy to get caught up in the experience and just spend, spend, spend. After all, we were in Hawaii. There were so many things to spend money on and experiences we could have had.
After getting home to my ordinary life, I had that moment of let down. You know the one where you have to get back into your routine. I had loads of laundry to do, cleaning, tons of work to catch up, blog posts to write – my to-do list was out of control. It wasn’t fun coming back to reality.
I really wanted to just run away for a bit and take a longer vacation.
I spend a lot of time writing about personal finance and encouraging my readers to budget, get out of debt and have an emergency fund.
These are all super important things.
However, I realized after this trip, that I’ve missed the boat. There is one key to personal financial success that I’ve never addressed.
The Key to Personal Financial Success is the Fine Art of Contentment.
You will never be able to get ahead financially unless you can learn to be content with what you have. You have to be willing to sacrifice and spend less than you make. I’ve had to learn to make do with what I have and find my own happiness.
I’m not talking about contentment in terms of not wanting and reaching for more, I’m talking about being able to be happy in the moment with what you have.
It sounds so simple, but I firmly believe that learning to be content in the moment makes it significantly easier to be financially successful.
When you are happy in the moment you aren’t constantly looking at your friends and finding yourself falling short. You don’t obsess over the latest clothing, cars, home décor or all the other things retailers are constantly trying to convince you to buy.
You don’t spend all your energy feeling sorry for yourself because you aren’t the Joneses.
You make the everyday decision to be happy with what you have while working towards your goals.
Those goals may be based on having nicer cars, homes, vacation and clothing, but those things don’t define you. What defines you is being happy with who and what you are.
How to be Content With What You Have
There isn’t a magic pill that is suddenly going to make you content. You have to choose every day to be happy. Somedays being happier is harder than others.
The easiest way I’ve found to be happy is to concentrate on what I do have.
I’m a religious person so I daily thank the lord for the blessings in my life. I make it a goal to thank him for different things every day. Somedays it is harder than other, but when I sit back and think through my day, I can always find something that brought me joy.
If you aren’t a religious person, I recommend a Thanksgiving Journal (actually I recommend this either way). Take a few minutes each day to write down a few positive things in your life. I’ve found that as I constantly search for the positive, it is always there for me to find.
Don’t get so caught up in the big things that you forget to notice the little things that make you happy.
Today, I’m thankful for a daughter who is just about ready to walk. I spent part of the afternoon watching her play in the grass with her little trike. She can’t actually steer it yet, so she just went around in circles. The look on her face of sheer joy made the “wasted time” worth every minute.
On a side note, there is a great lesson to learn from Ella. Although she could only go in circles and kept falling, she just kept getting up and pushing her tricycle. Her whole focus was on moving that tricycle. She wasn’t graceful or really productive, but she kept trying over and over again. She had a goal and was going to succeed.
Today, I’m thankful for this blog and the timely reminder that writing this post gave me of why contentment is so important to me.
My life isn’t perfect, but I choose every day to be happy and I’m going to continue to make that choice every day.
Receive Our Newsletter
Subscribe To Get Bi-Monthly Content On Personal Finance, Parenting and Successful Living