Managing money can seem like an insurmountable task sometimes. Bills, food, debt, clothing, vacation funds… it can get to be a lot to handle, especially when culture wants you to spend more money to achieve your “best life.” But is a life with better, newer, bigger, MORE stuff really your best life? Can you ever really attain happiness if there’s ALWAYS something ELSE that’s better, newer, bigger, and MORE than you have? This pattern of pursuit is costing you more than just your peace of mind – it’s costing you real money!
Maybe it’s time to change your situation, and the key to changing your situation starts with changing your perspective. Here are 3 tips for changing your financial situation just by changing your mind about money!
1) If you buy better, you won’t have to buy as often.
Reusable products are not just good for saving the earth – they are good for saving money! I am not a crazy eco-friendly/green/earth-saving advocate, but I AM an advocate for investing in reusable products that will last more than one use. Paper towels and napkins can be replaced by washable cloth versions; dryer sheets can be replaced with dryer balls; plastic water bottles can be replaced by a water filter and reusable bottle. These are things that cost you money MONTHLY, when they could be eliminated by investing in something reusable.
Let’s talk about clothing. Do you find yourself buying the same pair of jeans every year because of an unfortunately-located rip? Do you often deal with the “I have nothing to wear” crisis and then buy new clothes? Do you buy new clothes often because your favorite stores have new stuff every time you browse? If your clothing budget line is depleted, let me tell you one reason why – you’ve fallen prey to the scam of FAST FASHION.
Big companies that employ “fast fashion” order factories to keeps production costs low and timelines short so they can make more money off your frequent purchases! They use this sneaky thing called “planned obsolescence,” which means their clothes are “designed to fall apart or become unfashionable quickly so the consumer is forced to buy more” (quote from Mindful Mending on Instagram).
The best wardrobes are full of classic staple pieces that you can wear lots of different ways for a long time. Sometimes the best garments (like classic blue jeans) will cost a bit more upfront, BUT they will last more than one year. Investing in clothes that are made with high-quality fabrics and processes will save you from frequent buying.
2) Every dollar is worth spending wisely.
What’s the worth of a measly dollar, you ask? It’s worth spending wisely. Lattes, breakfast burritos, work lunches, dinner dates, gas station snacks, unplanned grocery store trips – all of these things will drain your bank account if left unchecked. Impulse buys can get out of hand quickly, and it can be dangerous to let “little purchases” go unmonitored. If you plan before you buy, dollars go further.
One of my coworkers uses cash only for things like snacks, drinks, and fast food, and the spending stops once the cash is spent (sounds logical when you read it, huh?). Another co-worker suggests planning ahead with a “snack fund” in your budget so you have freedom to make those little purchases. For larger impulse buys (like shoes and bags on major sale), a friend of mine suggests asking someone else to help you weigh the pros and cons OR sleeping on it to make sure it’s something you really want to spend money on. Planning ahead can free you from having to dip into important pockets of savings at the end of the month. If you give yourself freedom ahead of time, you can avoid guilt and deficit later.
3) You don’t have to buy “X” to impress anyone/prove anything/measure up.
“Keeping up with the Joneses” is not only mentally exhausting, it’s financially exhausting. It’s important to take a step back sometimes and ask, “Why do I want to buy this?” We can easily get caught up in maintaining some kind of image by buying the new car, booking the weeklong vacation, filling the closets with designer brands, eating at gourmet restaurants, and so on and so forth. The money you have should be stewarded wisely for the provision and wellbeing of your family (and your church and community, if you’re a Christ-follower), not for the sake of someone else’s opinion.
Here’s the thing: it’s cool to do & buy things you like, and it’s really cool if you have the means to do them. However, if doing or buying certain things IS putting strain on your life and your financial wellbeing, some introspection and evaluation may need to take place.
It might take time to learn it, but it’s okay to buy quality things secondhand, it’s better to save up for that vacation rather than swipe the credit card, and it’s more memorable to cook the meals at home with the whole family. For the sake of your overall health, let go of any standards that say you have to spend money on any particular thing.
To live wisely is to live peacefully. It can require some hard work and perspective adjusting, but with knowledge and wisdom, you can change your financial situation and live in peace.
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;Proverbs 4:6-7
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”