As a young family with a one year old, I remember feeling afraid to spend any money on what I considered luxury items. I had been invited to a wedding and wanted a new dress and happened to fall in love with one that was out of my spending comfort zone. I agonized over buying that dress. My husband (the spender of the family) couldn’t understand why I just coudn’t go out and buy it, but I was afraid to spend the money.
My mom sat me down and taught me something very valuable that day. She told me to stop and look ahead to next week, month, to next year, to five years. She asked me “will buying this dress impact your finances in a negative way” at any of those points? Will you be able to pay your bills? Will you be able to still put money aside for savings? What would you have to give up if you buy the dress? Then she asked me how much pleasure would I get from the dress? Would I wear it over and over again? Would it become a staple of my wardrobe or a signature piece? Would it make me feel good about going out, or simply be a new dress?
When I stopped and really thought about it, the decision was much easier to make. By the way, I bought the dress and wore it for at least ten years. It was a classic, and became a signature piece of my wardrobe. Now, when I look back and do the cost per wearing math….that one dress ended up saving me money over the years, as I always loved wearing it.
What great advice about spending, saving or financial decisions did you get from your mother?
One month/year my Mom took a spending hiatus. During the month she would not buy ANY extras – only essentials. I have adopted the same yearly hiatus. While it seems easy, it actually is not. You find that you buy “little things” all the time on a whim: a beautiful candle or bouquet of flowers. The problem is that these purchases can add up. I find the hiatus useful not just to save money but also to illustrate where extra costs creep into my budget.
Suzanne, we take a spending hiatus for one or two months a year. Typically we have a No Spend October and sometime I will throw in a No Spend March. My husband and I love the No Spend October! It feels like a cleansing for the budget 🙂 and forces us to be more creative. Plus is helps the overall budget before we head into the holiday season!