I was one of those kids with the chore chart.
My parents would put stickers in each box for every thing that I did, and each column done equaled five dollars. Needless to say, even money didn’t make me want to wash dishes, but when I decided to get down and dirty, I got paid. Getting $20 was like getting $100 to a kid whose priorities were Sailor Moon stickers and Girl Scout cookies. I looked back at myself some nights in college and thought I was a little hoarder. I look back now and realize I was a child genius.
90% of the time leading up to this article I have spent as a saver, but that 10% still exists gave me good enough road map to realize now when I am going off course.
So you don't make those mistakes, I have taken the liberty of giving you a small road map. You're welcome.
1. You always own the latest _________.
I’ll let you fill in the blank here. Whether it be the latest iPhone, latest IndieGoGo project, or even latest video game add-on (just try the level, first), you need to change your spending habits if you don’t have a savings, yet you live like a king.
2. You go out to eat all the time.
Let’s assume that you eat four times every week, with each meal totaling $11. That’s $44, and honestly if you grocery shop smart, you could be putting that money away. Plus, shave a few pounds (or keep them off) in the meantime.
3. You generally live beyond your means.
Do you buy everything on credit and consistently aren’t able to pay it back at the end of the month? Yeah, you’re living beyond your means. And while I am not saying you shouldn’t go out and have fun here and there, don’t dig yourself into a debt-hole you can’t escape.
4. You follow the trends.
Trends are for people who can afford to be trendy: they want not and waste a lot. (Hello, fast-fashion.) If you find yourself falling behind but able to keep up… time to reevaluate some choices.
5. Your “for fun” purchases don’t line up with your values.
This is a concept that is the most elusive. Let’s say two of your top values are adventure and relationships: instead of spending money on clothes, try spending your fun-money on a new experience with friends or family. Try a new restaurant, or travel to a new city or country. If you value learning and continued education, splurge on a new book or a museum trip and coffee.
If any (or all) of these tell-tale signs of being a spender (and not a saver) line up with you, I applaud you for recognizing the signs. But now, it is time to change! (Heh....)