The life we’ve been sold isn’t real. It’s a fiction, an abstraction, an unattainable fantasy. A life of abundance is a lie—we are told that if we just work hard enough and long enough, then one day, we’ll be able to enjoy the fruit of our labours. But this is hogwash; taken to its logical conclusion, it means the more you attain in life, the less you have left for enjoyment.

Think about it: what happens to your well-being if you buy a new car, or pay off your mortgage, or squeeze every last drop of value out of that $300 you just earned? You feel deprived! You’re empty. Those little accomplishments just don’t feel like enough. So what do you do?

You look for more! It’s the nature of the beast; when we have too much, we want more. And so we float through life, unfulfilled, always wanting but never having.

That’s why “attaining” more doesn’t work. You can only feel fulfilled if you give more . It comes back to the old adage: “It is better to give than to receive.”

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So here are thirteen principles that will help you live a life of abundance. The more you give, the more you have left to enjoy.

1. Don’t buy stuff that you can’t afford.

If you can’t afford to buy something, then don’t buy it! It’s that simple. And if you know you won’t be able to afford it in the future, save yourself a headache by avoiding it in the present as well.

2. Don’t waste money on crap.

Don’t buy stuff just because it’s available (another reason to avoid credit cards). Material objects lose value over time and need to be replaced (in many cases, often at great expense). The pleasure they give is fleeting at best, and once that fades, you’re left with nothing but a pile of useless junk.

3. Withhold judgment of others’ choices.

You didn’t grow up in their shoes. You don’t know what they went through to get where they are, nor do you have the right to judge them on their spending habits. This is their life, not yours. That doesn’t mean you should condone profligate spending, but it is your choice whether or not you want to be friends with a person who chooses to spend less than they earn.

4. Don’t take what isn’t yours.

This rule applies to money and everything else. It doesn’t matter if something is “just lying around,” it doesn’t belong to you unless and until you have made a conscious decision to accept it. This principle sounds harsh, but if you don’t honour it, people will stop giving you things that are rightfully yours.

5. Don’t rely on someone else to provide your happiness.

Stop looking to others for your happiness. It’s not their job; it’s yours. If you’re unhappy, then be the cause of your own happiness and stop expecting others to provide it for you. One day, when you are in a position of abundance, people will count on you to bring smiles to everyone else’s faces—that’s the way it works!

6. Spend money on experiences, not material things.

Do something that you enjoy doing. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive; some of the best times of my life were when I was young and foolish, spending just a few dollars on a ride at a theme park (while my friends spent the day talking about how they were going to “make some money [insert name]”).

7. Don’t spend money on things that add no value to your life.

Waste not; want not. You can have as much or as little as you want; the more you give, the more you have to play with. But if all that you do is buy things, you’re not really living—you’re just spending money.

8. Don’t bother saving money for retirement since you won’t be alive for it anyway.

Retirement is an afterthought for most people. It’s placed far in the future to account for any “fear of failure” they might have. But isn’t it true that if you don’t start preparing for retirement today, you won’t be prepared for it when you reach the age where you can actually retire? And all because you lived a life of fear and inaction by saving too little rather than too much.

9. Make every dollar you earn work for you.

Buy a good-quality, durable item on the cheap (to save money). Use it as long as you can (to keep it). Then sell it and buy something else (to earn more)…and keep doing this until you’re able to let go of all your stuff and enjoy the experience of living.

10. Investing is a game of winning, not losing.

The odds are stacked against any investor who relies on traditional investing methods. Market timing is not a real skill; predicting what will happen in the future is a futile exercise. If you want to be successful, then have faith in the concept of compounding interest, and learn about index investing.

11. Life isn’t fair; get used to it.

You need to get over the “life isn’t fair” phenomenon. You are not entitled to anything in life. It doesn’t matter if you are the best person in the world, or if you deserve it more than anyone else. You will not always win.

12. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

When things are going your way, enjoy it and take advantage of it. But when things come crashing down, don’t expect them to buy you out of trouble; instead, learn from your mistakes and get up and dust yourself off with renewed determination to start all over again along the earlier path of success.

13. Spend money on yourself because no one else will.

If you don’t spend money on yourself, no one else will. This is especially true for women. We are conditioned to put other people’s needs before our own and to please everyone around us. But what happens when others begin to realize that they cannot buy you off? What will they do when they want something from you?

The wrap

Gaining abundance in life is rather simple but definitely not easy. It requires commitment, a willingness to learn new things, and the desire to change one’s mindset.

The journey from financial disaster to financial freedom requires sacrifice. You will have to let go of your attachment to material things. You will have to forgive yourself for past mistakes and move forward with renewed confidence and determination. And you will have to commit yourself to a life of constant improvement and growth.

I hope that you find the journey as challenging and rewarding as I have.

Thank you for reading and good luck on your financial journey!

If you’ve gained value from this post, please share it with others. I would be very grateful if you did so.

To read our guide on the abundance mindset. Click here to learn more.

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