There’s nothing lovelier than swinging by Starbucks, eating lunch at a restaurant, or an impromptu shopping trip. With a fresh bag full of clothes I gratefully ponder the privilege that I had just experienced. Then…I realized that I had just chipped away at that new car, not paying off our student loans, and NOT saving for our future. The fond feelings of “being rich” fade into regret and anger. At this point I recognize that I can’t regurgitate my lunch and return it. The money is gone.
The secret behind getting rich is to not spend your money.
It’s so hard, I could cry over it. A lot of times it feels like I’m digging a tunnel (made of cement) with a teaspoon. The hardest part for me is to not look at what other people are buying, remain true to my own needs, and recognize the importance of my long term goals.
It’s vital to put the blinders on when looking at the young, fabulous, and broke, and remember that most of the time it’s all a mirage. It might look like someone is living the dream, but we don’t know they’re financial business, and trust me when things are better off left unknown. John, an avid AM radio listener, once told me that it takes ninety days for the novelty to wear off a new piece of jewelry. That’s not a lot of time to bask in the glory of an expensive new thing. When dealing with a bout of stuffitis (a term used in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace) I go through the following list to keep my feet on the ground.
1. I check my Mint or Quicken and look at the progress (or lack thereof) that we’ve made over the past few years. There’s nothing like laying all the cards out on the table to encourage me not to spend.
2. I look at pictures of my dreams: South Carolina, a new car, and the countless nights of uninterrupted sleep thanks to our financial security. I’ve even thought about printing a picture of that special southern home and keeping it in my wallet.
3. I think about all the starving children in the world and beat myself up for being so materialistic…a little dramatic, but it really works.
4. I go through my closet and take inventory of all the wonderful things I already own. Since my initial spring cleaning I have temporarily cured myself of wanting clothes all together because I realize that I don’t need anything. I’m still surprised by that thought. It’s very liberating.
5. I consign my kid’s clothes and toys, Ebay my stuff, and find other ways to make “free” money.
6. I spend time doing things that will leave me fulfilled by the end of the day. Like gardening, playing with the dog, making crafts in the studio with the kids, etc…
8. I write a blog post…
9. When I’m hit with the spending sickness I try to avoid watching reality TV or flipping through fashion/home magazines because often times enough they’re the source of my stuffitis.
10. For the occasions when I really need to buy something: I anticipate the cost, save, compare, and wait for the right deal to come along. Whenever I mention buying something to my mother in law she says “Stores will always take your money.” It’s best to hold onto it for as long as we can.
Good things come to those who wait, be patient. A lot of times those who get rich quick – become broke just as fast. Don’t let steps of momentary weakness turn into a spiraling staircase of debt. I’ll admit I am a habitual credit card swiper at Target and Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic. These companies offer me so many perks that it’s hard to leave the card at home. If you must swipe like me add it into your budget. Since I don’t live near a Wal-Mart I go to Target—often. My bill averages around $300/month or $3,600/year. Ouch! The dollar store doesn’t look so bad after reading that number- are ya with me? Let’s make a pact to avoid Target like the plague for two weeks. Can you do it?
Wishing you the best of luck. Let’s see how much we can save this year!
I’m excited to share an additional list about laying the groundwork for becoming rich. We’ll discuss the foundation to lay down before building wealth. After all, we can’t build a castle on top of sand. Have a warm Spring day!
P.S. Did you get that vague Grand Budapest Hotel reference?