Like anything, our knowledge about personal finance grows over time. Or, at least we hope it does. If we’re keeping an open mind and have a desire to learn new things and improve ourselves all the time, we should naturally evolve as managers of our money.
I’d like to believe that this is the case with me. Considering I’ve been writing about money for over 4 years now, there has been ample opportunity to think about it and facilitate a change in perspective on different topics within this realm.
In an effort to step back and practice some self-awareness, I’ve thought a bit about how my spending has changed over the years. Now, I’m not talking about from the time I was a teenager to now. Rather, I’m talking about even my 20’s and early 30’s, when I was a working professional but not a parent and in a different phase of life.
I thought I knew a lot then, but as it turns out I’ve learned a lot more since then. Some things that were valued then, are not priorities at this point. At least not to the same level.
Here are 5 ways that my spending has changed as I’ve gotten older:
1) Spending less on cars
Now, I have to say that I never went crazy with this. So, perhaps I’m not really spending a ton less than before. However, I certainly had eyes for nicer cars. Like a tiger spotting its prey, I looked at upscale cars as the type of things that would be mine someday. You know, as a part of a certain lifestyle.
Well, those thoughts are gone for the most part now. I currently drive a Honda that I bought used a little over 5 years ago, and have no interest in buying anything else. While this car won’t last forever, I’ve proven with my previous vehicle that I appreciate the value of driving a car to 200,000 miles and beyond. It beats constant payments as the alternative.
2) Less interest in home upgrades
At one point, I had a place with granite counters, new hardwood floors, a marble bath, and so on. Yes, I have to admit that it was nice.
However, I don’t see why any of this is truly necessary. Nice, yes. Worth paying and arm and a leg for? Not for me. The quality laminate counters I have now, and basic baths, work just fine. Actually, a bigger factor for me when spending on living arrangements is simply location. The location in which I live is more important than having something nicer but in a sub-optimal location. A prior post I wrote on school districts and homes illustrates this current line of thinking I have.
3) Fewer purchases of brand name clothing
Back in the day, I enjoyed getting clothes for work at Nordstrom. Now, I should admit that I never really liked shopping at all. Rather, I would go maybe twice a year and get things purchased when on sale. In particular, they had this anniversary sale that had really high quality stuff on sale for discounted prices. I even bought non-work stuff there, for the weekends.
Well, I don’t do that anymore. While I still believe that it’s important to dress well for work, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to do so. Shopping at other more mainstream retailers, while targeting sales, can be a great way to buy good clothes at a modest price.
Further, as I’ve gotten older, I guess I don’t care about this stuff as much anyway.
4) Spending less on haircuts
In the past, I would fork over $35 or more on haircuts regularly. At some point, it became clear that a lot of money could be saved by spending half that amount, and getting an indistinguishable haircut.
Now, I don’t recommend this for everyone. However, for guys with straightforward shorter hair, there can be significant savings over the course of the year by doing this. And, with little downside – at least for some folks. I wrote about this topic in a prior post where the question of how much to spend on a haircut was asked.
5) Spending less on “things”, while valuing “experiences” more
Again, I don’t think I’ve ever been excessively materialistic. But whatever level of materialism I did have has surely been toned down quite a bit over the years.
Time with family is absolutely at the top of the list, and enjoying time with friends is important as well. Besides that, there are other activities that are prioritized too. I’m realizing that life is short, and what really makes it great are experiences as opposed to “stuff”.
Does this mean one has to live a boring life? No, absolutely not! I think it’s a matter of priorities and reframing things a bit. This might be different for everyone, but for me this means:
- Making sure needs are taken care of before wants
- Valuing peace of mind
- Prioritizing people over material things
- Realizing that people don’t need to spend tons of money to have lots of fun
My Questions for You
What are your thoughts about these 5 ways to spend less?
Have you noticed spending priorities change for you?