This is part seven of the Ways to Save Money Series
So you want to be able to increase your savings or retirement, want to pay down bills, or just have some extra spending money for entertainment, trips, or gifts? Well a good way to make sure you don’t have any spare money is to buy crap.
Perhaps it’s the Soap Opera Digest you picked up at the grocery store, or the broken lawnmowers you keep buying at yard sales, thinking you’ll fix when you get home. Or buying clothes that you really aren’t fond of just because they’re on sale. The list can go on and on, but there’s one point I’m getting at: the key to losing wealth is to waste your money.
Granted, one person’s junk is another’s treasure, but there comes a time when you just don’t need something. Do you need a shelf full of Precious Moments figurines? Why? Do you need that screaming-fast video card, considering you only use your computer for browsing the internet and some word processing?
Currently, I’m battling the urge to buy an 80gb iPod. I have 30gb of music and another 250+ CDs that haven’t been ripped yet (hence the larger capacity). I ride the metro for over 2 hours a day, and I’d also like to get an auxiliary jack in our vehicles for long road trips. I’m trying to justify to roughly $250-450 cost (depending on the jacks and accessories), but I find I’m just trying to rationalize something that my gut is already telling me I don’t need. I tell myself that I’d download podcasts, rip some books on CD from the library (and then promptly delete them after listening of course), or even learn another language. But we have debts to pay off. We have savings to build up.
In my case, I have suitable alternatives. At work, I use my laptop that contains all my music. On the train, I have my phone that stores 1Gb of music (however inconvenient). At home, I have my wife who, thank goodness, doesn’t sing to me. You see where I’m going with this. Look at what you have already and ask whether you NEED that new thing.
But it’s just not limited to new stuff. You don’t need to accept every free item that your neighbors, family or even strangers want to pawn off on you. I support Freecycle and even dumpster diving (we’ve gotten good stuff from right next to dumpsters), but you don’t need to carry home every scrap you can get just because it’s free. But I digress.
Instead of buying that new gadget, skirt, latte, Bowflex, or “prime land in Florida”, think about what you’re really trying to replace in your life. You’re trying to fill some void, however small or large, and you need to just analyze why you want that “thing”, whatever it may be. For me, I almost succumbed to all the iPod commercials and hype, plus seeing every other passenger with white cords popping out of their coats and bags like they’re connected to the machine in The Matrix. Who knows, I might still buy an MP3 player one day, but I’ll be doing quite a bit more research into my long-term needs, our budget and what’s available on the market both new, used and refurbished.
So just think about why you’re buying something before you buy it. Most likely you have a suitable alternative at home, or can get it cheaper new or used.