Charles A. Jaffe, an American Financial Columnist says: "It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits." So I want to share a couple ways we can be a bit smarter with our cash.
1. Save on the Big Stuff
Focus on saving money on the big ticket items. Kijiji and Craigslist can save you hundreds of dollars on furniture, cars and appliances- most of which are in perfectly good condition. Lots of us work so hard to save $0.35 on canned corn at Safeway but go out and buy a brand new TV for $1200 when the same one on Craigslist is $500. The other bonus to buying second-hand is you are also buying a product that just needs a new home rather than a new off-the-shelf item that will eventually just be more waste in the dump. It prevents unnecessary production!
TRY THIS - Before buying anything (besides clothes and food) even if it's just something small like a new computer mouse or knife set, do a quick Kijiji search. Sometimes there's someone just down the block selling that item and you can save so much money! This will also help develop a habit to look for second-hand before buying new.
2. Rewards points can be bad news for your bank account
Be careful not to focus too much on collecting rewards points like Aeroplan and Shoppers Optimum points. This goes especially for Canadians who are some of the biggest points collectors in the world! Companies aren’t giving out points for just your benefit- they know it will bring you to their store to drop a bunch of money you don't need to spend just to rack up your points. I don't know the numbers, but I can imagine people subconsciously spend upwards of hundreds of $$$ every year in order to earn enough points for a free $500 flight (which you still have to pay the taxes on). So maybe hold off on buying those 12 bags of Tostitos for the extra 200 Air Miles and put that money in your savings instead.
3. Make the distinction between what you NEED and what you WANT
Yesterday when getting ready to go out I tugged hard on my t-shirt drawer. Somehow I had managed to compress all my shirts to just fit and then left it for my future-self to worry about. "Man, I gotta get rid of some shirts, I have waaay too many" we've all said in our heads at some point. But then weirdly enough we find ourselves at the mall, in the line for the till at H&M to buy that sweet new striped V-neck. We all know deep down we don't need it but shopping provides retail therapy, a short-lived, expensive and unnecessary boost in joy from buying stuff we don't need.
“The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” [researcher Richard] Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting. People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem."
And remember, fashion trends are not some magical occurrence that says lime green shoes and big-rim sunglasses are totally gonna be in for Spring 2015; this are conscious marketing schemes designed by fashion corporations to make you feel like your clothes are outdated and need replacing. Be yourself! Have your own style! Wear what you already have, and look in second-hand stores for some original and perfectly good stuff.
I CHALLENGE YOU: don't buy any clothes for 1 year. You know you don't need any more, and you'll learn to love the clothes you have instead of constantly seeking out new styles, leaving that really cool cardigan in the far, far back of your closet. Learn to appreciate what you have, not what you don't have. And your bank account will look so much nicer for it.
Check out www.thestoryofstuff.org, to see just what negative social and environmental costs also come with our excess consumerism.