In some ways, people don’t change. When it comes to our core personality traits, I’m convinced that most of us stay the same over the long-term.
That being said, sometimes our preferences and habits might change as we get older gain life experience. Some of this simply comes with maturity, and some of it might come via hard-earned wisdom.
One area in which we can make different decisions as we get older is spending money. Now, I think this can go both ways. Sometimes people spend a lot more money on things as they get older, but other times they might decide to spend less. There are probably very legitimate reasons for going in either direction, but what gets me most excited is the latter: spending less!
Here are 3 types of expenses for which I have grown accustomed to spending less:
Admittedly, I was never a big spender here. However, I did buy an SUV about a decade ago. It really wasn’t needed, but it just seemed like the right thing to do at that point in life. When you become a parent, there seems to be – for many people – a sudden willingness to spend more money on things you think you need, but truly don’t. I call it first-time parent syndrome.
No, an SUV was not needed. Certainly not a nice, brand new one. You could just as easily do well with a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, or some other seemingly reliable, practical smaller vehicle. And you don’t need to buy brand new. That’s the route I ultimately took, and am now driving something less expensive and more practical financially.
I know one other person who has downscaled even more, going from a new BMW in his 20’s to a beat-up, 10+ year old car as he reached 40. And actually, his means greatly increased during that time, but his spending sharply declined. This is in sharp contrast with many (most?) others I run across, who ultimately decide to buy nicer, more expensive vehicles as they get older.
When younger, I have to say that I dressed well! My professional wardrobe was almost entirely from Nordstrom. Really.
In days gone by, I would go to that very nice retailer, and buy everything for work from there. Some of my casual/weekend wardrobe was from there too. I rationalized it by focusing on shopping at a few of their big sales – I believe they were the Anniversary Sale and the Half-Yearly Sale. Also, by thinking that dressing really well correlates to success.
Fast-forward to today. From buying really nice stuff, I’ve gone to buying simply pretty good things that are on sale. The difference in cost between really nice and pretty good can be quite significant. As in, maybe 75% less costly!
Honestly, I think that for most of us, it really doesn’t matter. Very few people in most jobs or walks of life need to be dropping big bucks on clothing. One can look good on a budget, and retail therapy is not a way to maintain self-esteem anyway!
My first home purchase was a brand new condo with all the bells and whistles. The place had nice hardwood floors, granite countertops, and marble baths. Yes, marble.
I have no idea why I cared so much about such things back then. I guess I’m not really in the market to buy a new place at the moment, but I wouldn’t care about such features. Why I thought kitchen countertops needed to be expensive granite instead of something less costly like laminate is beyond me.
Don’t get me wrong: I like good quality stuff. However, I now recognize that just because I really like something, it doesn’t mean that I need it. Rather, we should prioritize and allocate our money to what’s most important.
And what is most important now?
Well, to me it’s a matter of taking care of the basics first and foremost – and that includes the basics in the present and the future. That means the ability to retire someday!
Aren’t retirement and financial freedom more important than working many more years grinding away to pay for an lifestyle escalation? I think so!
My Questions for You
How has your spending changed – if at all – on the 3 categories mentioned above (cars, clothes, home amenities)?
Do you believe in spending on nicer things as you get older, or would you rather save the extra money for future needs?