Which one of your possessions brings you the most happiness? Trick question. None of them do. You may own items that make your life easier or more efficient but I’m sure that none of them actually make you more happy.
We all know that there is a certain rush or instant gratification when you buy something new, and it’s certainly not easy to shut that off, but that feeling is what’s got you stuck working for most of your life. Paying for things and paying off debt. It’s a disgusting cycle that I wish I avoided years ago Neither my wife or myself did, but we are working hard to get through it now and hope to pass some of these qualities on to Darth Vader and Baby Cat.
We have been raised to think that having loans is normal. Just buy it now and pay it back later. Most people aren’t disciplined enough to pay this debt off right away, so they pay the minimum monthly payment or slightly more during the legnth of the loan terms. I love when people tell me that they bought a house or car based on the monthly payments, forgetting that they still have to pay that total amount in the end. “It’s only another $300 a month than I’m paying now for so much more.” Right, $50k more, without interest.
To get ahead, you need to stop thinking like this. Credit is for suckers. It is all bad. Your credit score will be obsolete when you have enough cash. If you are concerned about not being able to rent a car, then I can tell you that I’ve done it without a credit card. My debit card with the visa logo worked just fine, so you can add that nonsense to the myth list.
The first step will be to figure out what the needs are in your life. I’ve heard that once your basic human needs are met, happiness hardly rises at all with material possessions. We can look at how many lottery winners and celebrities are miserable even with all that money.
What do you need? Food, clothing, shelter. Internet, transportation, entertainment, and cell phone, are appropriate too I suppose. Now looking at what we consider your modern needs, how much are you spending on each of those? This is a good place to really examine how you choose to spend money. These are your basic needs!
Food – Do you eat out all the time? Could you pack a lunch more often with leftovers from dinner the night before? Could you shop at a discount store like Aldi or Costco? Are you throwing out produce everyweek because you over buy?
Clothing – Do you need this seasons designer outfit (whatever the hell that means)? Do you feel like you need different shoes for each outfit? Are you afraid of getting fleas from second hand stores like Goodwill or eBay?
Entertainment – Do you spend $50 a night on the barstool? Hookers? 1000 HD channels with DVR? The newest movie release? All seasons of Game of Thrones on Blueray? Shit, this list could go on forever. See here.
Shelter – Basically, are you house-poor?
Internet – Do you have a bundle with your local provider to get a landline, internet, and cable and also have a cell phone? Do you have the midgrade internet for surfing the internet and streaming videos?
Transportation – These will all have their own posts in the near future, especially this one. Do you feel like a real dud if you aren’t rollin’ in a new SUV? Scared someone will think you’re a pussy if you don’t have something big or fast? Was that new car a real slick deal with 0% financing? Barf.
Cell Phone – See here.
This is a good place to start trying to find places to save money because you know you need these things. It’s also a good place to examine what’s important to you. When you feel like something you currently own needs to be replaced with the newer “better” model, remind yourself that that thinking is what got you the version that you dislike so much right now. You will be in the same situation next time the newer version comes out again.
Your homework is to look at your basic needs and thinking about how you can decrease those expenses. I’ll be posting some tips in the near future, but think about it anyway. Surrounding yourself with the like-minded and similar reading material will help here, so keep it fresh by thinking about it more often. Part two of your assignment is to just think about some of the last items you “upgraded” and determine why it felt like a need. Think about what “luxury” items (not basic needs) you bought and how they’ve added to your life. Have they really?
Yes, that’s a lot to think about, but when it clicks, this ridiculous spending that you’ve been used to will seem so obviously foolish.