As tax season rolls by, many of us are thinking about how much we earned and spent in 2017, as well as looking forward to financial goals for 2018.
We often have great motives in mind when thinking about our spending, but we don't always follow through on them when enticed by a new product or service.
The place where this topic interests us as professional organizers is the
of how we choose to spend our money, and the result of that money being spent, usually taking the form of clutter in our homes.
These purchases also result in missing out on meaningful moments that were spent focusing on STUFF rather than making memories.
Here are some examples of how we can think differently about what we choose to spend our money on - and increase our happiness in the process.
Understand your "spending triggers."
As Socrates famously said "know thyself. Noticing how you get pulled in to spending money is a great way to spend less of it. Between the internet, superstores and Google's recent pop-up donut shops (that's actually a real thing people), we are practically programed to spend our money. Noticing when and WHERE you tend to impulse-buy is a great way to curb that habit. I recently cancelled my Costco membership because I would go in for a roast chicken and come out with a barbecue. Now that time is spent doing other things that I find more fulfilling.
Don't be fooled by discounts
. In his book,
Dollars and Sense: How we Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter
, Dan Ariely reminds us to "ignore relative comparisons." This means that we should always think about what the thing costs, not how large of a discount you are getting. If you see a handbag on sale for 50% off of $100, you're not saving $50 - you're spending $50. Perhaps that's worth it to you, but you must first question how much you really want the item. If you are not willing to pay full price for it, than maybe you don't really want or need it that badly in the first place.
Beware the "Free Trial" and other automated payment systems. Most of us are constantly on the hunt for virtual programs and products to make our lives better, simpler or just more fun. (Video streaming programs like Hulu and Netflix are a good example.) Many people have become desensitized to this, and choose the free trial, but then forget to opt-out when the trial has ended. Perform an audit of all of your automatic payments and consider opting out of those you no longer use. If you do choose to opt-in to a free trial, set a reminder on your phone to opt out before the trial period has ended. Companies rely on us to forget that we've given them our credit card details, which is why the free trial is such a successful sales tool. Don't let this happen to you! Controlling the act of spending your money is an important part of regulating how much you spend, and on what.
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
Before you buy something new, consider how much space that item will take up in your life. Will you need to clean it regularly? Bring it inside every winter and store it in your garage? Take it to the dry-cleaners? Haul it to Goodwill when it breaks? Most of us never ask this question, but it's not too late to start.