Husband and I have conceived of a lot of ways to make sure we don’t spend too much each month. We are making all our payments, and we are saving some, so it can be tempting to think that whatever is left we can just spend till it is gone – but we’d love to live well within our means, since you never know how long both of us will keep our current jobs.
To do this, though, we don’t want to completely cut money-related fun from our lives. So we’ve been making a lot of decisions based on 3 questions that I think most of us could stand to use, even if you have more than enough money in the bank.
Does this bring me closer to people I care about? What I’ve realized is that many of the things I consider spending money on are things that I could easily exchange for other ways to be happy – going for walks, cooking at home, watching movies we already have in the collection, working in my garden. What I do want to spend money on, though, are fun (or just novel!) experiences with friends and family. I wouldn’t spend 40 dollars on a ticket to an amusement park by myself, but I try to let go of the purse strings when it only applies to me.
Will this be a momentary or lasting part of my life? I see grabbing fast food on my way home from work as a momentary pleasure – nothing wrong with it, but the investment value is so much lower than a copy of a book I loved, or a yoga class that will give me new moves I can try at home. For things that are more likely to be momentary pleasures, I tend to try to use coupons or shop secondhand (not for fast food, haha), because I know I don’t mind scrimping a little on the temporary things.
Is this the time, or can I sit on the idea for a couple weeks? Most of the time, anything that isn’t needed right this minute for an urgent purchase is a good thing for me to think on for 2 weeks. Often, the caprice of wanting to buy a new thing will pass in 2 weeks, and if it doesn’t, I’ve usually thought of a zillion other good reasons to buy it, which makes me more confident. Not to mention, 2 weeks is long enough to figure out where the cheapest place to get it is, and what discounts might apply.
So you see, I don’t really deny myself per se, but I try to prioritize, and I’m always thinking about whether I’d prefer to save that much money or spend it on this thing. After all, it is a zero-sum game, and I want to think about the alternatives to making these choices. It has served me well so far, though I can always afford to be more prudent. I think we are all in that boat.