There is a simple money-saving exercise that everyone should do at least once in their lives. It is ultimately one of the best ways to save money because it is not about pinching pennies but about discovering what you really want and getting it. It is so simple that you may hesitate to try it. Just try it. Here it is:
List everything that you have spent money on, are currently spending money on, or might spend money on.
Don’t just read this and think of a few things. Take the time to actually write it all down. Review your bank statements if you have to in order to remember and include everything.
Now go through the list and carefully consider each item. Take the most time on the big items—past, present, and future possibilities. If your timeshare on the beach is worth half what you paid, costs $1,000 per year in expenses, and is rarely used, you need to learn from that—not to punish yourself but to have a richer life.
If you think honestly about the number of times you will use that recreational vehicle and the cost, it may be $250 for each day of use. That’s okay if that is worth it to you, but maybe you would really enjoy $100 hotels more. Or maybe you can rent an RV for a lower overall cost, thus freeing up money for other important goals.
You see, saving money isn’t about sacrifice. We are all aware of the scrooges in life who pinch their pennies, bank the savings, and then do nothing with it. The point should be to save money in one area of your life so you can use it in ways that make your whole life richer.
Suppose you notice you’re spending $8 per month on subscriptions to magazines you don’t read or on insurance for a motorcycle you almost never ride? Cancel the subscriptions or sell the
motorcycle, and what have you lost? Is it a big deal? What will that $8 get you instead?
Bank it for ten years and use the $1200 to take a second honeymoon.
Use it to pay for a day off work once a year to spend with the kids.
Invest it to have an extra $50 per month during your retirement years.
Buy six good books a year to learn something new.
Make banana splits for the family once a month.
Give $100 per year to a worthy cause.
$8 per month can do a lot if used wisely. Imagine what you could do if you stopped wasting $200 per month. That’s why it is so important to discover what you really want—and what you don’t want. This is one of the most intelligent ways to save money.
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