Where could you be saving money? (There's something, somewhere. What is it for you?) Here's mine. 👇
Living in a wealthy country with plenty of the necessities--food, water, shelter, electricity... and internet--I'm sure there are plenty of things I genuinely could go without if I needed to.
Do we need the swimming pool in the backyard? Probably not, but it's super nice during times like now when we're getting yet another heat wave.
Do we need a house with spare bedrooms? Probably not, but it's really nice to have a room for friends or family to stay in when they visit us.
Do we need a super king-sized bed? Probably not, but since I've slept poorly for much of my adult life it definitely helps me sleep better by having essentially a whole bed to myself.
I think prompts like this one below from Galen in the Weekend Experiences Community are a really useful opportunity for reflection. Here's the prompt I picked to write about out of the six he offered:
Name three things you personally spend money on but could eliminate or cut back on to save some money.
List them and tell us why you chose those things,
why you could cut back or go without them,
and why you haven't already cut or reduced them to save money.
I already know what my sneaky spending habits are and I'll share them in a moment. Though as I went to write this post I realised, yet again, how profoundly lucky I am. Many of us in Australia (and other wealthy nations around the world) have so much that we take for granted.
The three things that I could cut back on but choose not to are all over and above, or additional to the many things I've listed above. We are lucky. I am lucky. I just want to acknowledge that.
And, without further ado let me
reveal confess to you the three things I really should probably stop spending money on but can't seem to help myself:
Now, I can imagine you saying, "Yeah, but Caroline, reading books is good. You learn a lot. It's good for you. What's the problem?"
The problem, my dear friend, is that I buy waaaaaaaaay more books than I can possibly read. I would say that in the last 3 years Brad and I have bought something like 50 books for every 1 we've read.
It's not like I don't read, I do. I just read slowly and I buy books quickly. Or, more accurately, we walk into an op shop and we buy 20 books in one go!
So the good news is that we're rarely buying new books (though I occasionally do that too 😂), we mostly buy good quality, second-hand books, usually for a very, very cheap price.
But our bookshelves (plural!) are full! 🤣
So, why do we buy so many books? Partly, we like reading about other people's adventures (we buy biographies of people who have done cool things) and we also really like travelling (so we buy guidebooks for every location we ever think we might want to visit) and we both also like learning about a wide range of topics (so we have non-fiction books aplenty, especially me).
Why have we not eliminated this over-the-top book-buying behaviour?
Good question! I think, partly because it's a little like retail therapy (but much cheaper than buying them new). Also, we feel like we're "winning" because we so often get a bargain. And for me personally, I always wanted my own library. I think it has to do with my Dad being a librarian when I was young. Both my parents have always loved books and been big, big readers, so I think I feel close to them, especially my Dad who I rarely see, when I'm surrounded by books.
There are definitely worse things to be addicted to.
Again, I'm almost always buying them from op shops. Again, they're usually very cheap and I love the adventure of what I might find. I feel like I'm getting a bargain.
Unlike with the books, this spending habit is one I don't share with Brad; he rarely buys second-hand clothes. (To be fair, the man has even more clothes than me, so he really doesn't need to buy any at all).
But I have more clothes than I've ever had in my whole life.
It might have something to do with the fact that this is the longest I've lived in one place since I was a teenager. In fact, I'm sure that has something to do with it.
But I think the spending habit has a lot to do with feeling like I had a lack of choice when it came to getting clothes as a child. Despite living in wealthy Australia, we didn't have a lot of spare money when I was a kid. Food? Yes. Shelter? Yes. Electricity? But expensive, branded, new clothes like the other kids at school? No.
So I really felt a feeling of scarcity, of "not enough" when it came to clothes as a child. I guess I've been trying to make up for it ever since. By moving around through my 20's and 30's I was kind of forced to keep my wardrobe small. I just bought lots of clothes and then would sell them or, mostly, give them away.
But now? Now I simply have too many. Who needs 17 dresses anyway? I only have one body for heck's sake!
And if I'm wearing one of those dresses I can't wear one of my 15 pairs of shorts, or my 8 pairs of leggings, or my 5 pairs of jeans, or my 7 skirts.
One thing that has me going back to the op shops again and again (other than the excitement of buying something new and the adventure of the find) is allowing myself to finally find my own style. I get to really choose what I want to wear instead of being given hand-me-downs as a child. While I was grateful to have them I got to choose what to wear out of a bag of clothes, not an entire store.
I never really worked out what looked amazing on me, which colours I adore, and which styles really suit my shape. I'm working that out now; now, at 41, when I finally have a stable base.
So I could cut back this spending. I could eliminate it altogether for probably at least a year or two before my (plentiful) underwear collection started to get holes in them and actually need replacing (from a store that sells new stuff, thank you!).
But you know what I'm probably going to do? Just keep letting go, one at a time, the items that no longer bring me joy, that don't look that amazing, or I just never wear and keep buying new (-to-me from one of the local op shops) other items that I love even more.
Before I wrap up, let's look at item number 3 that I could be saving money on.
3. Donating money to charities
This one is probably pretty controversial as most people believe that giving money to charities is a good thing. As it turns out though, not everyone feels that way. And if you were to look at the amount of revenue I actually pull into my business and how much of that is actually left after I pay business expenses and make inroads on old debts, and how little I actually pay myself, you'd wonder why I give any money to charities at all.
The numbers don't make sense logically, they only make sense emotionally.
That is, even though there's not a lot in the pot to give right now, we have so much. I have so much. Yes, I have a lot of debt. Yes, I barely pay myself even close to a liveable wage. Yes, I am very lucky to have access to all the wonderful things I experience at this point in my life.
But it makes me feel better about myself to support those humans who have less than me, those people who have suffered through natural disasters or senseless human wars, and the many animals that are hurt directly or indirectly through our actions.
So I set aside a small amount every week to give to some organisation that I feel is doing awesome things. And rather than stop doing that to save money I cannot wait until the day when I can easily, effortlessly and sustainably give so much more.
What are you the 1, 2 or 3 things that you question whether you should be spending on?
Are they guilty pleasures or over-the-top expenses? Or are they things other criticise you about but you actually love buying?
Tell me in the comments! I'd love to know 😀
All photos taken by me. The references to Turkey and Ukraine as places I've donated support are pictures taken from Lonely Planet guides we own.
If you're reading this post before 6:30 am UTC time on Monday 20th March and you want to write your own post to this prompt (or one of the five other prompts that are wildly different from this one) then check out Galen's post here.