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I’ve started getting a daily email from Mrs. Frugalwoods of the Frugalwoods blog. She has what she calls an Uber Frugal Month Spending Challenge. I admit, I’ve not been completely successful in it. But I do like the daily emails and things that they make me think about. An email from the other day suggested this assignment, and I thought it might be a good time to talk about it, seeing as we just survived Black Friday and today is Cyber Monday.
Write down all the reasons why you spend money and reflect on whether they’re valid or not.
So, here goes nothing. I spend money on pet food and food for myself, gas for my car, groceries, utility bills such as gas, electric, and internet. I spend money on things like car and renter’s insurance. I bought myself an annual membership to the ABQ BioPark, Aquarium and Zoo. (After going four times in a year, it starts to pay itself back and yes, I do go often.) I recently paid $150 plus tax for new Hoka One One sneakers. It might sound like a lot for running shoes, but if you’ve been or are a runner, you know that good quality shoes are a MUST. (I’ve spent enough money on physical therapy over the years, thank you.) And finally, yes, occasionally, I do spend it on a book or two if my library doesn’t have it and I think it is something I might want to mark up in the margins or to highlight. Or if it’s for school.
For example, the other day I bought the book Tiny House Decisions by Ethan Waldman. I bought just The Guide because I’m sure I’ve seen or heard some of the interviews already or at least parts of them, possibly conducted by others, since I’ve been watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts for years now (long before it became “the thing to do.”) I also paid an extra $4 to get the workbook because I know myself. I might make decisions and end up writing them in various places, which really isn’t helpful when it comes time to do the actual work of building or buying a tiny home.
Another book I spent money on recently, but haven’t yet read – because I pre-ordered it – is Cait Flanders’ book, The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, And Discovered Life is Worth More than Anything You Can Buy in a Store. Cait’s book comes out in January 2018 and I can’t wait!
Do I think these are valid reasons to spend money? Yes. I love Cait’s blog, and her podcast, and I want to support her as an author because I believe in her and I want to repay her back for all the helpful advice I’ve gleaned from her writing and her thoughts on the Budgets and Cents podcast. I have made up my mind that in some way, shape or manner, I AM going to have my own tiny house or abode someday and yes, there are a ton of decisions that will need to be made along the way. In my mind, buying Ethan’s guide and Cait’s book is a way of keeping that dream alive, that one small step I could take each day. You have to find inspiration every day.
I’ve begun to also think of spending in a different way, that of saving. I’ve set up a Tiny Home Fund, as I mentioned in another post. I worked on Thanksgiving so the extra money I made from working then (getting paid 2.5 my regular hourly rate) will be “spent” into the Tiny Home Fund. I’m currently doing some transcription work for my friend Elaine. The money I earn from that will also be “spent” into the Tiny Home Fund. Any little bit of money I can save from what I normally spend per month will be “spent” into that Tiny Home Fund.
I’ve begun figuring out how much more money I can “spend” into my retirement savings. I don’t want to work forever – I don’t know anyone who does. The more I put into my 401(k) from each paycheck, the lower amount that Uncle Sam gets to tax me on from my paycheck which is already small enough. I work my butt off for it and I’d like to keep as much of it as I can for my future.
I also “spend” my money into my savings for another reason. There are so, so many homeless people in Albuquerque. So, so many people panhandling on the street corners. It reminds me of my phobia of being homeless. And it spurs me on to save as much as I can. I know that not much separates me from them – what happens if I lose my job? How long could I go on with what I have saved?
I spend my money on necessities. I have to eat, and so do my pets. I have to have my car to get to work so I keep it in as good a shape as I can. Any clothes I do buy are second hand, and even then they are few and far in between. I need to pay for the utilities so I can keep the lights on and the hot water coming out of the faucet to wash dishes. I recently bought cat trees for my cats so that they would be happy in the house, and because they had gotten sick so many times on the one I had had for two years, it was gross, despite being cleaned up several times. They purr on it and love sitting on its ledges in the sun near the window. To me, that $80 some odd dollars I spent on both trees was well worth it to see them happy. After all, they are my kids.
Yes, occasionally, I do spend money on something like fries from McDonalds when I have had a crappy day at work, but those events are becoming fewer and farther in between because I’ve started to ask myself – are these fries really worth the extra time it will cause you to work between now and getting that Tiny House? And 99 times out of 100, the answer is NO! Plus, I try to remind myself of how crappy it sometimes makes me feel afterward.
So there you have it – I hope that this post will help you to reflect a bit before you hit that “Add to cart” button today on Cyber Monday. Do you REALLY need what you are about to buy, or will it really benefit that person you are about to buy it for? Do you already have something at home that can work just as well, or could you gift an experience to your family or friend member instead?
What kinds of things do you spend your money on and do you think your reasons are valid? Why or why not? Please drop me a comment below or hit the like button if you’ve liked this post, and as always, THANKS FOR READING!