Ask any 10 people on the street whether they need more money, and I would venture to bet that all 10 would shout "Yes!" and then pester you for ideas on how to get some.
At one time in your life, you may have felt as though you not only had enough but also had a little bit extra. Think back to your first raise, or the first paycheck at your first grown-up job. Or remember the moment when you first realized you could pay the rent, buy groceries, and still have a little money left over.
Chatting over beers, a friend of mine recently reminisced about getting her first big raise. She came home and announced to all of her roommates that they were going out to the local bar, and she was buying! I distinctly remember getting the first paycheck at my first paid internship, when I suddenly was getting paid almost twice the minimum wage. In one shot, I had almost doubled my hourly pay.
Life gets more complicated after those simple moments have passed. We have more responsibilities, more expenses, and more desires. You probably have many more things you have to spend money on these days, often boring stuff like life insurance and medical bills.
Even though we get more money as we grow older, we seem to lose that sense of freedom we had when we first started earning money. Some of that early thrill stemmed from the feeling of surplus, the crazy notion that we suddenly had a little more money than we needed. Of course, almost immediately, we found plenty of ways to spend that surplus. The feeling dissipated.
That doesn't mean you can't try to recapture some of that thrill. See if you can recover a little bit of that sense of something extra.
- Make a "crazy account." (Crazy, but not too crazy.) Set aside a little bit of money each week or month, and spend it on anything you want. Don't poach these funds to pay for lunch or dry cleaning. Just pretend the money doesn't exist until you get some wild hair. If the money's there, then spend it.
- Be generous. Buy your friends a round of drinks, buy your spouse a surprise box of chocolates, or send a check to a favorite charity. Remember the good feelings you can get by using money to do things that make you feel like you're sharing the bounty with your friends and family.
- Re-examine your habitual spending. Try to free up some surplus money by examining all the things you've gotten used to paying for month after month. Think about changing your cell phone plan, ditching the premium cable channels, or canceling the unused gym membership. Reconsider anything you pay for on a monthly, subscription basis. If you're not using it, get rid of it.
- Get rid of your clutter. If you're surrounded by stuff and not appreciating any of it, it might be time to clean house. Discard, give away, or sell anything that's just taking up space. You'll create the physical and mental space to appreciate the things you do have and use. Make sure your old stuff goes to someone else who will get some use out of it, and you won't miss it at all.
- Wash your car. Or, wash your fancy bicycle. Spend an afternoon listening to music or watching old movies and appreciate your vast CD or DVD collection. You probably look at these things every day without remembering that, once in your life, you didn't have enough money to own them. Take a moment to revel in the fact that you have them now and can enjoy the fruits of your surplus.
- Add up the value of your stuff. If you're stuck at home in a snowstorm, you can add up the value of everything in your house. To go the quicker route, just pick one room. You probably have thousands of dollars of furniture and other stuff in that one place. Don't you feel richer already?
And while you're looking around for a newfound appreciation of what your money can buy, remember that money isn't everything. It's never a bad idea to call your mother or a long-lost friend and remind yourself of all the things money can't buy.
Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple appreciates her surpluses of cookware and socks, and she welcomes your feedback. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy would love to come out to the bar if you're buying.