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?
It makes sense. I tend to do that anyway but this after years of practice :) In the past I stockpiled more. Now I won't buy more than a year supply of anything. I only buy group deals if it is something we will use immediately. If it is something that goes on sale regularly like toilet paper I will only buy max 2 month supply. I definitely need less the older I get. If it wasn't for my husband I would probably rent a studio or 1 bedroom apt and live very simply.ReplyDelete
I'm jealous that it comes so naturally to you. It was definitely an evolution, but I feel like it *is* getting easier!Delete
Yes! Yes! Yes!ReplyDelete
It has never occurred to me to wake up assuming I would spend nothing, but that is an excellent idea.
I don't necessarily want to be super frugal, but I want simple and satisfying. The less I have, the better I take care of it and the longer it lasts ... and isn't that a good way to save money?
I like your approach as well - simple & satisfying! And yes, totally agree. When you have less, you take better care of it for sure.Delete
I am totally in agreement with you about wanting less as I get older. I could scream when I think back to when I had 3 young children and just randomly bought videos/toys/gimmicky food items to keep them quiet. I also have spent quite a bit on remodeling projects without really working with a budget. Now? Our needs are way down, kids out of the house, and I have begun reading personal finance blogs. Guess I have the time now!ReplyDelete
I find that it's easier as the kids get older - we are trying to set good patterns for them, and I think more about retirement, college, etc. The good news is that you're on the right track now!Delete
This is an absolutely brilliant way of approaching and thinking about savings and frugality! It's a very different way of looking at "spend less." I feel too that if you are going to spend money, know about it in advance (i.e. Wednesday is the farmers' market, next Tuesday I need to pay for summer camp, or whatever). Obviously surprises and emergencies arise, but I think if you approach from assuming you were not going to spend money, you can be less reactionary about what does need to be spent at that time.ReplyDelete
Less really can be more.
Totally agree! I know what our standard weekly expenses are, and avoid other unplanned spending outside of that. It's been super helpful so far.Delete
Oh my gosh. Your post today and my post today should compare notes.I love this approach-assume you already have what you need, and plan that you won't spend.It is simple, and genius in that simplicity. The stocking up mode to saving would only work for me if I suddenly developed organization habits. For me, it is keeping stuff in the stores where it belongs unless it is for current use. When we were young and broke, and had fewer possessions, the stock-up worked, but now I misplace way too many things bought for "some day" use, only to find after the fact as clutter.ReplyDelete
Ha! So true - we are on the same wavelength! I'm with you on the clutter. I don't want more around, which means less stockpilingDelete
I have a mixed opinion of stocking up vs. buying on demand. If it is something we use every single day (like toilet paper of laundry detergent) and I find an incredible buy (lower than usual sales) I will buy a lot.ReplyDelete
I have a gigantic jacuzzi tub in the master bath that we used the first month we bought this house (18 years ago) and it makes a fantastic toilet paper storage area and we are the only ones who ever see it.
Same for laundry detergent except I have built in cabinets over the washer and dryer which provides plenty of storage for laundry detergent. (We have very hard water and the homemade stuff just doesn't work for us)
Other than keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer and Christmas presents I don't buy in advance because I found I bought things I never used.
We do stock up on toilet paper, etc. It's hard to imagine not using that in the future. ;-) But, we also try to keep it to less than a six month supply for storage purposes, so it works well.Delete
LOVE this post! It's been an incredibly freeing experience to have this month's no spend. If I want something, I say, oh wait, not now. I have a long list of things I would have purchased if I wasn't doing a no spend, and quite honestly, I didn't need any of it. As I finish up my third week, I'm feeling more and more content. It's a bit weird, really. I had no idea I would feel so good by not spending. I intend on carrying a lot of this into the coming months, as I continue to reach savings goals. I like the way you put it. Wake up assuming you will spend no money. Perfect.ReplyDelete