Our lives are built around convenience.
The things we want greatly exceed the things we need and we’re paying a high price for our wants. Eight hours a day, five days a week we work to support the habits of spending that our culture has promised us is normal. There is comfort in numbers and because we’re all doing the same thing so many of us have never been challenged to break out of our ‘work more to buy more’ mentality. We've become slaves to an illusion.
When we can’t afford the next purchase immediately, we thank the bank for the credit they offer us and bury ourselves in more debt, and continue to work more to pay it off. We promise ourselves that when we start earning more then we’ll start saving more, but research shows that the more we earn the more we spend, which for many of us, despite driving a nicer car, we’re still in debt.
The problem is rarely the income, but the way we’re spending it.
The way we're spending it is crazy.
The good news is, there a better way to spend our money. A way that allows us to escape the rat-race that many of us haven’t realised we’re taking part in. A way that challenges our desire to spend money at the end of the month, just because we have some left over. A way that forces us to separate the essential from the excess.
I want to challenge our dependence on 'convenience items' with the intention of helping you start to wonder where all of your extra money has come from.
You won't like it initially. We've already justified in our minds why we're buying the things we're buying.
Put all that aside for a moment.
If you’re not up for a challenge, stop reading here.
For the rest of you, consider the following:
- Sell your car Ride a bike instead. I know, I got angry when I first heard this advice too. It wasn’t practical at all and Mr Money Mustache didn’t seem to care. It took me 45 minutes to drive to work, I had to use it to buy groceries and I don’t even have kids to take to school. So here’s the solution. Move within cycling distance of all three. Let’s break that down. 45 minutes in a car twice a day is 90 minutes of driving each day. Why do we allow ourselves to travel that far for work? That’s a lot of money in petrol and road tolls. Not to mention the fact that over five days that adds up to 7.5 hours of driving which essentially is a day a week in the car. You’re working 6 days a week when you’re travelling 45 mins each way to work. How could you adjust your current setup to allow you to need to drive so much? For more help, read this.
- Cancel your monthly memberships Have a look at where you’re spending your money on a monthly basis. Are you using everything you’re paying for? You don’t need a gym membership to get fit – read this.
- Use the library Libraries are possibly one of the most underused resources we all have access to. Here’s the crazy thing – they’re usually always empty. Before you buy a book, see if they can get it in for you at your local library.
- Cut your television Especially if you’re paying for extra channels. Televisions are completely unnecessary. With roughly 16 minutes of every hour being used to advertise the latest ‘in things,' they’re not only just a waste of time but a sales pitch that genius advertisers spend billions of dollars a year to convince you that you need to buy more shit. If you decide not to cut your internet, you have an infinite amount of options on YouTube, Netflix and the rest of the internet to find shows you like. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but the nightly news is purely entertainment and by no means necessary. Read about the important headlines online.
- Buy second hand You don’t want brand new, you want quality. Don’t get the two confused.
- Stop buying take out coffee Drink it at home. You can buy great quality coffee to make at home for a whole lot cheaper than what it costs at a café. Two coffees a day costs you around $120 a month.
- Stop upgrading This is the one that most of us really struggle with. The latest iPhone comes out around the moment our current phone plan is coming to an end so we justify the upgrade because it’s not going to cost us any more than the $80 a month we’re already paying. But a perfectly working iPhone 4 is just as good as an iPhone 7. When you finish paying for something, don’t use it as an excuse to justify spending the same amount on a newer version of that thing. This in itself can save us around $1000 each year. If your current car works fine, do you really need a new one? If you already have sunglasses, do you really need the latest model? If what you have is working well, why upgrade?
- Cut your home internet I was 13 when we first got the internet. Until that point, I’d never had access to it before. I had to call my friends, read and play. There is free Wi-Fi everywhere. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt. The idea of going without it seems impossible. We have become so used to having constant access to the internet that we assume it’s essential to have at home. Rather than pay $60 a month on having the internet at home, write down what it is you want to look at online and schedule time to go to your local library or café and use the free Wi-Fi.
- Eat simple foods You don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat incredibly well. The best food is natural food. Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Fish, Rice. You don’t need to spend a fortune to eat well.
- Quit impulse purchases We're being sold the idea that contentment is found in the next purchase. It's not. Don't buy it unless you actually need it.
The only way to save our money is to spend less than we earn. That equation is far too simple for any of us to take seriously, but it’s the only one that will work.