It was a wonderful experience when I earned my first salary.
But I practically blew through a month’s salary in less than 5 days. But that wasn’t the worst of it. An attempt to track how the money went became almost impossible. I had no idea where the money went.
My experience is not unique to just me. More people need help with spending, and the reason for this is that there is a mass ignorance of the fact that handling money is an art- something that must be learned and perfected. The consensus is- money should be spent. Our brains can convince us to buy things even on the brink of bankruptcy. There is always a reason to spend more if we look for one. Have you noticed that no amount of money you give a beggar- sooner or later, he would always spend his way into being broke again?
Unfortunately, it is the same for most people. But unlike beggars who make money by begging, most work hard but still end up broke.
We all are guilty of buying things we do not need, and we all struggle with the curse of “instant gratification.” Worse than any virus known to man is the virus of “I want it now!”
There is an addictive pleasure in compulsive buying. Much research has been done to understand why many are addicted to shopping!
Through the years, I have had to research and find out the best way to spend right, and so far, one book has helped me more than any: “The Total Money Makeover” by David Ramsey. The book touches on many financial issues. From the knowledge gained from the book and other sources and my personal life, I developed- better yet refined a system to help guide my spending. Before making any buying decision, I ask myself a series of questions. The questions I ask are:
Do I need to buy this thing?
If I desire a new phone, I ask myself: Why do I need one more smartphone? Am I less productive with my present smartphone?
So, before you purchase that shiny new shoe or that gadget, ask yourself if you genuinely need it. Has the absence of the item negatively affected your life?
Do I have a product that can replace what I want to buy?
Perhaps, from answering the first question, you realize you need the item; the next question is, “Is there something else you currently have that can do the job of what you need to buy? Is there an existing product that can replace the new object you have in sight?
What is the price of the thing?
Finally, I ask myself what percentage of my monthly allowance will go into buying this desperately needed item. A rule of thumb I follow is I don’t buy anything that would require me to touch my savings and investment for the month.
There you have it, three simple but strong questions you should ask yourself before buying anything.
Also, there must be a checklist for buying things. And if you fail to follow it, you have broken your own rule. Always stick to our list, no matter how important something is. Of course, this doesn’t mean you cannot be flexible; however, note items worth breaking your list for beforehand. Usually, these are often emergency items related to health or sudden damage to a property for which your insurance and emergency savings should cover.
There is a mindset you must possess to master spending right successfully. You need to change your perspective on what buying means. Most people equal buying to being rich! And this is a myth. Only poor people buy stuff to prove they are rich. The genuinely wealthy buy stuff they know they can afford from their wealth.
This article is one of the excerpts of my book" 60 Minutes Guide to Building Wealth: All the Mistakes You Should Avoid, And Things You Must Know and Follow"