Permission Slips and Financial Planning

I’m sure you remember permission slips. They were the magical pieces of paper that gave you the ability to experience something really unique when you were in school. They usually read something like:

“I, Mom, hereby give permission to Jane to attend the field trip to the zoo.”

Those permission slips were golden. They allowed you to get really excited about something you’d been looking forward to for quite a long time.

In reading Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong this morning, she talks about giving herself her own permission slip the first time she got to meet Oprah. She wrote “Permission to be excited, have fun, and be goofy.” This really struck me, as it’s what I think most clients need with their spending choices.

I regularly have a conversation with people where they discuss their spending, how they feel they’re not saving enough, and yet the feel guilty about ever spending money on themselves.

Here’s a secret. Now that you’re an adult, you need to write your own permission slips for spending.

Now you may think “well of course, I can spend my money on whatever I want. It doesn’t mean I won’t feel guilty about it.” That’s oh so true. Here’s the second part:

Understanding your cash flow and having a financial plan allows you to really enjoy your spending.

If you know that you’re on track for your major goals of being able to retire (or not outliving your money in retirement), paying for college, paying off your house, whatever your major financial goals are, that’s the big first step.

If you’ve got a plan and know those big rocks are in place, understanding your cash flow is the weekly key. If you know what your big spending commitments are each month, that your savings flows are automatic, and how much money you need to spend for variable items like gas and groceries, now you are on to something. Now you can write yourself permission slips like:

“Permission to go out to lunch with friends every week and enjoy myself”


“Permission to take that big trip we’ve been talking about for years.”

What kind of permission slip would you write for yourself? What’s holding you back from making that decision? What do you need to let yourself actually get excited about that possibility?