I love that we can all have a unique spin on things that serves our budget, family needs, priorities, wants, etc. None of us need to approach this whole spend/save dance from the same angle. And, this is absolutely not a judgment on any of those approaches, because as long as they are working for the people writing them, they are on the right path!
But, there have been a few posts recently which have fundamentally altered the way I think about budgeting, & even more importantly, our lives. The concept is - assume you'll spend nothing. Go into every day assuming you'll spend no money. Of course, this doesn't apply to bills (you should certainly pay those :-). This is referring to anything you get to choose.
I used to live each day looking for ways to save money - bargains, coupons, deals, etc. But I've come to realize that I wasn't doing myself much of a favor.
- Because it's really easy for me to get caught up in bargain hunting & convince myself that if I buy this Groupon for bowling, I'm saving money on future entertainment. Except, I was only successful in redeeming the Groupons about half the time before they expired.
- When I'd find an amazing deal on a black top at the Gap (knowing that I love to wear black tops), only to come home & notice that I had five similar shirts.
- Or, when I decluttered my bathroom cabinet & actually had to clear stuff to the garage because I had too much of everything. Too much shampoo, soap, face wash, etc. It's great to buy things when they are inexpensive, but in my case, I bought too much. It will take years to get through what I bought. And, I can think of a lot of better ways to spend my money than hedging on the price of toiletries. ;-)
- My son loses jackets like you just wouldn't believe. So, I went to the Gap outlet & bought six inexpensive hoodies, because we were forever replacing them. Would you believe that, two years later, five of them (now passed down to his brother), remain? Do we really need five hoodies? In this case, as with many others, the stocking up was a waste of money.
- Do I really need everything I have? This is perhaps a broader challenge than the "spend nothing", because I have much fewer objections to spending on experiences. When I look around our house & see our "things", it's clear that I could get rid of half & we'd all still have what we need to lead a happy life.
- I could give 100 more examples like this, but I won't. Basically, the older I get, the happier I am to live with fewer belongings & focus on experiences with my family.
When you wake up assuming that you'll spend no money, it removes all of the decision making. It starts from an assumption that you don't need to make any of those decisions. It also helps you see your own consumerism a bit more clearly. And yes, I will absolutely spend money. But, I try to make the dollars I spend go to things that we will truly use right away - food. I'm also challenging myself as to whether we need all of the things that marketers sell. Do we need 25 types of cleaning supplies, 15 beauty supplies, 10 dental hygiene supplies, etc, etc? I'm pretty sure that we could do without almost every marketing gimmicky item sold to us and live well.
I've read about these concepts in various ways on lots of blogs, but it finally sunk in. And, it's been pretty amazing. I feel differently about my finances & feel more in control. When spending happens, it's because I chose it. Not because it was some inevitable life force.
Have you ever had a revelation like this? Has it changed your spending? What's your personal spending philosophy?