Friday, December 31, 2010

Spending Less

Spending less... what does it mean to you?

To some it means spending less than they do now. To others it means spending less than they earn. Others still believe spending less applies not just to money but to the time spent acquiring that money.

To me, "spending less" is a combination of all three. I aim to reduce my current spending level so that I can maintain the level of my outgoings despite inflation. I aim to spend a lot less than I earn so that I can pay down my mortgage and have cash savings and, as I reduce my debt and other liabilities I can reduce the amount of time I have to work in a 'real job'. This frees up time and energy for projects that are more fun and more fulfilling but more importantly, should the economy take another downturn, I already have a lifestyle that thrives on less income. Spending less is the batting that adds weight to my personal patchwork economics.

Spending less is also a subversive practice. We're constantly bombarded by corporate advertising showing us how wonderful our lives will be when we have the latest 4WD vehicle or 3D television or overseas holiday or cupcake maker, or... the list goes on and on and on. To choose to spend less is to choose your financial well-being over the corporate world's financial well-being. To choose to spend less is to choose to be debt free not a slave to a bank's asset ledger.
Newspapers and magazines

Where to start?
Once again you need to know where you are before you can map out where you want to go. The simplest method and one you've no doubt already heard of, is to track your spending. Note down every single cent you spend for at least a fortnight, a month is better. It's not rocket science but it can bring about a quantum shift in your perception. Where's your money going? Which areas surprised you the most?

Some of the usual culprits are:
  • Food and drinks when you're out and about
  • Parking meters
  • Lottery tickets.
If your employer reduced the hours you work and therefore your income, which of these expenses would be immediately slashed or completely removed? Can you do that now? Are there any areas that you're willing to voluntarily slash in order to have cash in the bank or pay down debt?

Once you have the numbers in front of you, you can start to make choices. What will you choose?

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