I love good exhaustion. You know the feeling, right? That satisfied exhaustion that follows a day full of expending our energy on worthwhile things. It’s like the elation of finishing a long, hard run. Spent, in the best sense of the word.
The second component of the Frugal Living NW mission is to Spend Wisely, and I love this because it reminds me that the goal of frugal living isn’t merely to not spend. That’s silly. That’s like saying that my goal for the day is to expend as little energy as possible. If that were true, then sitting on the couch would be the best use of my time. But rather, in the same way that we spend our energy wisely, in order to do as much good as possible each day, we aim to spend our money wisely, in order to do as much good as possible each day. Let’s consider how this is done.
Spender or Saver? The Pantry Test.
We all tend to either be a spender or a saver. One look at your pantry will reveal what you are.
Is your pantry so full that you can’t see what’s in the back? Do you often find that food expires before you can eat it because you just had to buy 10 boxes it was such a good deal?!! With all due respect, you’re a spender. On the flip side, some of us are compulsive savers. I have been known to stand in Albertson’s for 30 minutes deliberating about buying a bottle of salad dressing. It’s a sickness, I know. I don’t even have a pantry, just three narrow shelves for food and I could probably fit it all on one shelf. My husband always says I have “non-buyer’s remorse.” I find a great deal, but can’t bring myself to buy it, then I come home and lament about not snagging the deal. Are there any other compulsive savers out there?
Now let’s consider how both spenders and savers can grow in our ability to spend wisely.
For the savers, SPEND wisely:
Savers, we must get over the misconception that the goal of frugal living is simply to spend less or not spend. While it’s wonderful to have money leftover at the end of the month, that isn’t the end goal. Misers die miserably rich. The happiest people are those who spend their money making the world a better place.
:: Consider all your resources
Remember that your time and emotional energy stores are just as valuable as your bank account. Often in my attempt to not spend money, I wind up wasting too much time and emotional energy. Spending two hours to save $2 is not spending wisely. If we don’t have time to play with our children because we’re too busy scouring the Shortcuts site, we’re not spending wisely. Set a budget not only for your money, but for your time.
You can always make more money. Once time is spent, it’s gone.
For the spenders, spend WISELY:
:: Buy what’s beneficial
The point of spending money is to do as much good as possible each and every day. However, too often we fall into the trap of buying things that are simply not good for us, just because they are a “great” deal.
Last week I got two candy bars for free. You know what I did with them? I ate them. Both. I probably would have been better off forfeiting the $1 overage and saving myself a sugar crash. So, make a rule to never buy unhealthy things no matter how cheap. Even for food drives or hand-out bags (if it’s unhealthy for you it’s unhealthy for them!). Cocoa Puffs will never be a good deal, unless it’s a money-maker, in which case dump the whole thing out, recycle the box, and buy a banana.
:: Beware of Retail Therapy
Yes, mindlessly wandering the aisles of Target can be therapeutic, but resist the urge to use shopping as a mood-booster. We usually end up regretting what we bought which leaves us worse off than ever. Instead, go back to the Be Content post and find a better way to beat the blues.
:: Distinguish needs from wants
Take one hour and evaluate all your monthly spending. Label items as needs, nice to have, and luxuries. Remember that cell phones, wireless internet, and movies can all be considered luxuries (remember to Compare Down). Even if you don’t change your spending habits, it’s helpful for us to realize that we have a lot more luxuries than we might think.
So, savers, let’s remember that money is made to be spent, and beware of wasting time and energy in order to save money. And spenders, let’s resist the urge to wander those aisles, loading up on unnecessary items in the name of frugality. And all, let’s use our money and spend wisely, each and every day, to accomplish as much good as we possibly can.
May we find ourselves truly spent in the best possible way.
*For more specific tips on wise grocery spending, visit Frugal Grocery Shopping.
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