Like some people love Vogue, I love the blog Stop Buying Crap.
Here are some thoughts drawn from the title article on how we can stop buying things we think we want and start spending money on the things we need.
A Matter Of Opinion
In the original article, Cap, the author looks at the 20,000 people who bought the limited edition Han Solo in Carbonite replica for a cool $4,900- it might seem like crap to him, but to fans of the movie (real fans, obviously) it was a must-have item. I feel the same about my uncle, who bought a replica of Aragon’s sword. It’s huge. It rests next to the hatstand and occasionally he takes it to the office for fun. Look, it’s not my thing. I probably wouldn’t pay money for it.
But it’s not crap to him, it’s something that he deeply enjoys having. It’s money well spent. So, if it’s important to you, it’s worth spending money on. No matter what other people might say about your purchasing choices. I didn’t listen when people laughed at me for buying a car that didn’t really work, and then proceeded to stop working altogether. And maybe it wasn’t my best financial decision. But the joy I had from that purchase makes it hard to qualify it as ‘crap’.
I take a lot of inspiration from this blog. In it, Cap discusses the differences between being cheap and being sensible. How to not buy crap is not about being stingy, it’s about “understanding your unlimited wants and needs and how you may fulfill them with your limited resources.”
Which is truly the nuts and bolts of the issue- there are always a million ways our money needs to go, but the amount of directions it’ll run is finite. So prioritizing is a necessity of good finances, as is an ability to have some level of self-control. For instance, getting into debt over non-essentials is not the cleverest of moves.
Knowing How Much You Have
A budget is a wonderful thing for many reasons. A primary reason, however, is that you will at last know how much money you have. Which means you then know how much money you have to spend on essentials, and if there’s anything left over at the end.
Cap suggests that one reason spend more money than they can afford- I would suspect especially on subscription-based or deduction-based items- is that they simply do not know how much money they have each month. They see their income and think that there’s plenty of financial fat there, without taking account of the numerous drains on their resources.
Stay Big Picture
Money is long-term. While you might have the money to make a purchase, you should still think about it carefully. How much do you want it? Because there are savings accounts, retirements, mortgage repayments that could all do with a little extra money as well. And while sometimes it’s important to spend money on items because you want them badly, at all times you should make that decision knowing that it’s is one dollar less that you’ll have in the future.
Weighing up the decision will help you work out what you really want, and what you can afford to let go. After all, a comfortable existence is the most yearned for item around.