Four days have passed, and no money has been spent.
As I write this, the day before publication, I have started the new year by spending no money in the first 4 days of the year. Zero, zilch, nada. Absolutely nothing. Hooray! Of course I’ll inevitably spend on different things soon, but my resolution to spend less money on discretionary items has started out the way I wanted it to. It’s always nice to get some early momentum on working toward a goal, no matter what it happens to be!
Really, what I’m trying to do is lower expenses in order to help efforts to grow net worth. Now, I generally think that most of us should spend more of our time and energy on the income growth side of things, and maybe even investing a bit of time in risk management. So, let’s not get carried away or become stingy. Dwelling on saving money can only get us so far. After all, as I say periodically here, we do need to make money before we can save money, right?
With that in mind, rather than going too far by getting obsessed with expense-lowering strategies, I’m trying to make it a habit to very quickly assess whether or not to I need to make a particular purchase at any point in time. This expense assessment strategy basically involves asking the following questions when I’m making a purchase.
- Do I need this? Yep, the old wants versus needs question comes back again! However, just because something is a want, it doesn’t mean it can’t be purchased. Life would be too boring if we only did what we need to do and ignored what we would really want to do. However, needs are just that – needs – while wants can be addressed sometimes when the time is right. So aside from exceptions, if it’s not needed, question whether or not it will be purchased.
- Is there a lower cost option easily available? OK, so we’ve very quickly decided “Yes” to question #1. We need to make the purchase, whether it’s food, clothing, gas, or whatever. But can we spend less? For example: if you’re at work, you’ll typically take some time in the middle of the day to eat lunch. Maybe that means going to the company cafeteria, or running out to pick up a sandwich or salad. Sure, you could do that, but what about bringing something from home? You could save some money that way if it doesn’t take much extra time to prepare and pack a lunch. Even a few dollars a day can add up to a lot annually.
It’s a very simple, yet very effective concept. Do you need it, and if so – could you get it for less elsewhere, without spending much extra time. Keeping it simple allows us to avoid overanalyze saving money, and think about other things too:)
My Questions for You
Do you ever stop yourself when making purchases, to decide whether or not you need to spend?
What approaches do you use to make sure you’re spending your money wisely?