In God We Trust

Teaching You How to Get OUT of Debt and Live Debt-Free

Dec
3

Actually, saving money is much easier than making money, and the end results are even better. 

Consider this:  You are shopping and see a shirt on sale.  It’s not your best color, but you do have at least three pairs of pants it will go with, and the price is unbelievable.  It was normally a $40 shirt and is now just $10!  Even though you don’t have cash with you, you simply cannot pass on this deal, so you dig out the credit card and purchase the shirt immediately saving $30!  In actuality, you didn’t save anything.  You spent $10 on something you didn’t need.  Unless you pay your entire balance on your credit card purchases by the due date, you will also end up paying interest on that shirt for the next 15 to 25 years.  WOW!  What a bargain!  NOT!

Saving money starts with simply not spending it.  If you make an impulse purchase or need to rationalize your purchases, you are literally throwing money away.  You need to define the difference between needs and wants, and begin to eliminate the wants from your purchasing.

Needs

In order to survive everyone needs food, water and shelter.  Everything else falls into the want category.  This sounds a little harsh doesn’t it?  I’m not advocating that all of you eliminate everything else from your lives, but to begin recognizing the differences between needs and wants. 

Let’s look at the need for food.  You need a balanced diet to survive and stay healthy.  A family of four can purchase all the necessary items for a tasty and balanced diet from a moderately priced grocery store for $300 to $500 a month.  I’ve done it for far less during tough times, but let’s allow for big appetites.  If you are spending more than this, you are going well beyond needs and getting wants.  Drive through and take out restaurants are not usually healthy, and will take a disproportionate amount of your monthly food budget.  You may rationalize fast food… too tired to cook, don’t have anything in the house, kids want pizza, etc., but these are wants, not needs.

You need water… not bottled water which is expensive and bad for the environment, but you should drink lots of water all the same.  If your tap water is bad tasting or you are afraid of contaminates, purchase an inexpensive but efficient water filter for your home.  I keep tap water in pitchers and water bottles in my frig so I can have cold water handy.  Needs versus wants.

You need shelter.  Shelter can include your home, clothing, and your heating and cooling costs.  So many people live in houses or apartments that are far too big or deluxe for their income.  If you are spending more than 1/3 of your income on housing, you are satisfying wants, not needs.  The housing market problems and foreclosures happening all over the country right now are a result of too many people trying to purchase homes well beyond their ability to own or maintain.  Many of you have already been affected by this, and many more will be feeling the pain within the next couple years. 

You can save a huge amount on utilities with just a few simple changes.  Turn off lights when you leave the room.  Keep the thermostat down (or up) depending on the climate and time of year.  Add (or remove) layers of clothing.  Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater.  Take shorter showers, and don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth or shave.  There are so many more little things you can do, and almost every utility company has cost savings suggestions on their web sites. 

I included clothing in the shelter part, because we need clothing basics to cover and protect us from the elements.  Two or three basic outfits for each season of the year are necessary.  You probably need 2 pairs of shoes if you are employed.  One for work, and one for "play".  If your work place requires a suit or dress clothes, you need two or three basic outfits for work.  That’s it kids.  The rest of the clothing you buy or own is simply to satisfy your wants. 

Wants

This one is easy.  From that cup of "fourbucks" coffee you purchase on the way to work, to your stop for dinner on the way home fits into the want category.  Cell phones, cable TV, daily newspaper, books and magazines, almost everything you spend money on fits into the want category.  The only want that is hard to get is this:  I WANT to save money and get out of debt.

Knowing the difference between needs and wants

Only you can dissect your spending into needs and wants.  I can’t do it for you, and neither can your spouse or best friend.  You need to make a decision and then begin to track all of your spending for at least 1 month.  Write down everything you purchase or spend money on.  Include all payments on all debts as well.  At the end of each day, honestly examine your expenditures and write down whether it was a need or a want.  If you are completely honest with yourself, you will find that almost ALL of your purchases are satisfying wants, not needs.   Once you define the difference between wants and needs, you will begin to find it easier and easier to give up some of the wants.  This is the biggest and easiest way to begin saving money. 

If you are reading this, it must be because you recognize that you are having difficulty.  Take me up on this challenge.  It will make a difference.

Comments are closed.