Presvytera Maria Antokas is a former banker who now teaches Economics and Finance. She and her husband, Fr. Dimitrios Antokas, are currently serving St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Presvytera Maria is also co-founder of CapitalWise, LLC, which is a financial coaching service for adults who need help organizing and understanding their personal finances. The company just published their first workbook entitled, Don't Call It a Budget - Personal Money Planning in the Age of Stuff Overload, which may be purchased at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
We know what kids and celebrity divas do when they can’t get what they want. They throw a hissy fit. They get all hysterical, throw tantrums, say stupid stuff, attract attention, and thrash about. Obviously, that’s not normal. Most mature people just take it in the gut and move on. Some people even look at it as a learning lesson, change, and grow. But the common denominator is the feeling of disappointment. What do we do about that?
Disappointment is a feeling of sadness because you were hoping for something – like winning the lottery or getting a raise at work. We have to learn to live with it especially from a financial standpoint. Ask yourself this. Why do you want to win the lottery? Is it because you need something or is it because you want something. Let’s look at the difference between wants and needs.
The easiest way to look at this it to think of technology. I always tell the story of our first video camera. In the Stone Age, video cameras used to be the size of knapsacks. Everyone just had to have one when their first child was born. So as soon as we heard the big news, off we went to buy a video camera. After all, we needed it to track every miniscule movement of our little miracle. What we thought was going to be a minor investment, turned out to cost us enough for a year’s worth of diapers. All those bells and whistles! Did we want it? We thought we did. Did we use more than one eighth of the features? Not really. But those extras sure cost a young family a small fortune.
When looking back, I should have used the trick that took me years to accept. Use lists. Fold a piece of paper in half. Mark the left side with “wants” and mark the right side with “needs”. Start writing. You will probably be surprised about how few “needs” you have and how many “wants” are filling the left-hand column.
Study the “wants” column and ask yourself about the opportunity costs involved. What do you have to give up to get what you want? If you don’t get it, how will you handle the disappointment? Do you even know how to handle disappointment? Maybe instead of focusing on “wants” focus on eliminating disappointments in your life by just focusing on your “needs”.
Do you need all that “stuff”? Is “stuff” solving the problems that you have? Is “stuff” adding value to your life? When the Prodigal Son realized that getting what he wanted wasn’t what mattered to him, he returned home to the love of his family. A roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to protect us from the elements, and the love of our friends and family should be all that we need. Once that is realized, we will never have to deal with disappointment again.
By the way, are you wondering what happened to the video camera? It ended up in the garbage heap, along with the 8-track, the giant VCR that never stopped blinking, the computer monitors, the SEGAs, Ataris…should I go on?
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