Thoughts on Money and Spending

08/25/2010

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Something that I haven’t talked about much here is Personal Finance.

I first discovered minimalism through my personal finance journey!

I was a fresh grad out of school with little money and my first full time gig.  I was making more money than I had at any point in my life, and I had no idea where it was all going.

So, I tracked my spending for year (I tried to track every single purchase).  Then, as the end of the year, I analyzed the data.  That’s when I realized that my spending was not in line with my priorities.

I was spending money on things that weren’t adding value to my life.

That’s when my journey on minimalism started.  I wanted every purchase to be a conscious decision to add value to my life, instead of purchases just because.  When I saw something that I thought was a great bargain, I would go home and think about it.   Usually, I ended up not going back because I realized that I didn’t really need it.

It wasn’t that I wanted to be a scrooge and deprive myself from spending, it was in fact, the exact opposite.  I wanted to spend money on the things that added value to  my life, and cut off spending to things that didn’t.   One of the simplest ways to do that was to control my accumulation of stuff.

I stopped associating money with happiness

I stopped buying things to make me feel better (ie., clothes shopping), and I started to really think about what my priorities were in life.  Spending time with my family and friends, cooking, reading, traveling, relaxing – all of those things did not require a lot of stuff, and they brought me infinite amount of joy.

I found that when I stayed focus on my priorities, minimalism was a tool and life style to help me reach my goals.

Today, I think my spending is definitely more in line with my values, my priorities and my long term goals.

How?

After each pay check, I always pay myself first.  I put a portion of each paycheck in a special savings account dedicated to my travel fund, or education fund, or another priority fund.  I put a portion towards RRSP’s and general savings, and the left over goes into my checking account.

This method works really well for me because I don’t have to think about it.  These amounts were pre-calculated based on my financial goals, and I just recalculate the portions after an adjustment in income.  I’m lazy like that.

I usually ask myself a set of questions before I decide to purchase something.

Questions I like to ask for a new purchase:

Does this add value to my life?

Will this make my life more efficient and functional?

Can I use/hack something that I already have instead?

How do you choose how you spend your money?  What are some questions that you ask yourself when making a purchase?

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8 Responses to “Thoughts on Money and Spending”

  1. Shirley Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I will bookmark your website.

  2. Jen Says:

    good post..great share, great article..love to read it

  3. Hasina Says:

    The only question I ask myself is: “Do I really need it?” Of course the answer is almost always “no” 🙂
    Sometimes I try to think of a better way to use my money. For example, instead of buying another pair of shoes, I could go see a movie or try a new restaurant, etc.

    But more and more, I find myself just asking this simple question: If I buy this, am I being a hypocritical minimalist?

    It works like a charm 🙂


  4. Hasina – Those are great questions – the last one especially. I tend to feel “better” about spending my money on experiences rather than material things.

  5. Sara Says:

    Wow, I love your blog. Its great to read about other’s journeys.

    I am not sure how I ended up here tonight, looks like from Miss Minimalist/Just Daisy/Here!

    I have found that Minimalism (or Living Simply) has really helped my finances. I am certainly not frugal, but I am a little more careful.

    I love this post and will refer to it again and again…. until it sinks in.

    Sara (sydney, Australia) xx

  6. trupti Says:

    I want to be inspired by your article; and I know how relevant and truthful it is to my life. But then, how practical is it? Isn’t it all about mind control? And mind always wanders… nudging us to buy that one pair of shoe, spend on that bag… Though I am definitely not spendthrift, I do buy stuff, more than rarely but less than often, and I know can do without. I’d like to have a middle ground between being frugal and being a spendthrift.


  7. Trupti – I think it’s super practical. I’m not sure about mind control, but it is certainly about self control.

    One of my secrets to self control is to remove distractions and things that are taking me away from my goal. For instance, I rarely watch tv (therefore, less ads), and I rarely step into a mall. These two simple steps have saved me so much money from impulse buying and creating a list of things I want to buy, but probably won’t need.

    Having said that, I don’t stop buying things all together. I just think about it more, and evaluate if it’s going to make me happier in the long run, or just temporarily. I give myself a time frame to evaluate – usually at least 10 days. Sometimes, I would have forgotten the item :).

    Hope this helps!


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