If you’re the type that consumes financial blogs, books, and articles as I do, you’ve read the tip a hundred times to skip the morning coffee to save $5 a day, and just over a grand a year. If that’s the bit of your life that needs improvement, you’re doing pretty well in all other areas and have trimmed back so much fat … are you even enjoying ANYTHING at this point? Are you having fun or entertaining yourself? Are you going out to happy hours with your friend and co-workers after work and drinking loads of booze since giving up the morning coffee? Have you picked up a smoking habit? Shopping? Manicures? Massages? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR YOURSELF?!
I, personally, have a slight addiction to collecting leather goods. A set of coasters, a Koch Leather Field Notes cover, a Shell Cordovan pen, a couple dozen other bags, organizers, sleeves, small carries … you get the picture. It’s a lot of accessories I’ve accumulated and cutting out my daily coffee doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of money spent on these material goods that take up space in our home, and don’t actually provide more happiness or joy than a daily cup of coffee. With a goal of growing businesses, curbing the procurement of more stuff is vital to re-focus money and energy on investing and storing.
There are a plethora of options to reconsider spending habits. Investing, earning a higher income, lending money, starting or buying a business, real estate appreciation, the list is essentially as endless as your imagination. If you’re wasting money on cable, renting appliances, absurd interest rates, credit card charges, unnecessary clothes you’ll never wear, overpaying for insurance, buying everything at retail pricing, gym memberships you don’t and won’t use, eating out instead of cooking at home, you’ll bound to continue struggling to break through that barrier and get over the hump from living paycheck to paycheck to building a nest egg.
How often do you buy things you don’t need out of boredom? Stop that! Let’s pinky swear to be more conscious of our spending habits. I’m guilty of it, as described above of my leather bags and small goods collection. It’s a hard habit to break, and it’s very simple to change. I used to buy things I didn’t need, simply because it was on sale and because I thought having it would make me feel a certain way. It didn’t.
Going forward, consider these questions (print these out or write them down in your journal), before making a purchase:
1. Does this serve more than a single use purpose?
2. How many times will I use it and what is the cost per use?
3. How does this purchase improve my life?
4. How does this purchase improve the lives of others?
5. How, where and with what intent was this item made?
6. Can I borrow, rent or find this second hand?
7. What, if any, are the maintenance costs and total costs of ownership for this item?
8. Can a more responsibly sourced option be acquired? (Fairtrade, organic, DIY, handmade, locally made)
9. What is the environmental impact of me owning this item?
10. What is my exit strategy with this item, once done with it? Will I: store it in a closet for years to come? Give it away? Sell it? Trash it and send it off to a landfill? Repurpose it?
11. Is this item fulfilling a need, or satisfying a temporary want?
12. What are the consequences of NOT purchasing this item? Are there other options that are less in cost to you, the environment and your overall happiness? Spend on experiences, not things.
Listen. In short, don’t cut out things that make you happy, that you look forward to, that do far more good than harm. Do cut out the shit that’s not serving your highest good, or the highest good of others.
Live mindfully and purchase intentionally.
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Photo credit: Beth Derrick-author