3 Ways Attachment Wastes Your Money (And 4 Ways to Fix It)

July 17, 2015

Connect Member

Personal finance expert at Creative Money: a resource for gaining clarity & confidence about money.


Attachment to outcome is the idea that a situation must play out a certain way to be in the best interest of your life, relationship, business, or so on. Sometimes people decide that there is only one solution to a problem, and then become fixated on making that happen, regardless of obstacles. When this happens, you’re not only ignoring potential new developments and the current reality, you’re also wasting money and time implementing the supposed “ideal solution.”

When people become attached, they often make the following mistakes:

1. They Stop Looking for Other Solutions.
Take home buying, for instance. When you become attached to a certain home, you disregard the fact that there are many other houses in which you could be happy. Consequently, you may become obsessed and outbid every other buyer, ultimately paying too much for your home.

2. They Disconnect From Purpose.
Countless people get carried away renovating their homes with the top-of-the-line appliances and finishes when they would have been just as happy with the look and function of less expensive items — especially when they don’t even know how to cook!

3. They Lose Sight of the Essence.
A person can have the essence of anything — comfort, serenity, functionality — without spending much money at all. But sometimes we decide arbitrarily that something we are attached to will make us feel a certain way. This is why I own 20 lipsticks and rarely wear them — I think lipstick will make me feel more beautiful, but in reality, it never does. I have learned (and am still learning) that the things that truly make me feel beautiful almost never involve spending money.

A common theme throughout is the idea of getting your attachment out of the way so you can understand the core issue. Whenever I feel like buying lipstick, instead I should be trying to understand why I need to feel more beautiful in the first place. What else could serve me more immediately?

Four Ways to Become More Detached

1. Make Peace With How Things Are.
Make peace with the fact that, even if your current reality isn’t perfect, it doesn’t prevent you from being at peace. You can always decide to change the future once you’re grounded and centered.

2. Drill Down the Attachment.
When feeling attached, I find it useful to ask myself, “... And what will that get me?” and then to keep asking after every answer. Eventually I’ll uncover what my brain is trying to talk me into. Once I understand the illusion my brain is engaged in, my attachment becomes all the more apparent. And once I’m aware, I become detached and am open to alternatives.

3. Identify the Essence.
Before solving anything, ask yourself, what is the end “feeling” goal for this solution? Success, security, satisfaction, serenity? How can you get more of that emotion right now, before you go out and try to “solve” your feelings with a purchase?

4. Do Less.
Throw out the idea that you have to “solve” anything. Sit with your issue, discuss it with friends, and see what happens if you live with imperfection for awhile. You might still decide to make a change, but making the decision to let it ride reduces the urgency that can come up when you’re in “fix-it” mode.

I guarantee that if you bring the concept of attachment into your money decisions, you’ll save countless dollars. Plus, you’ll get closer to the ultimate goal of spending consciously — and more happily — in all areas of your life.

Mindy Crary is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.