Thrifty, frugal, parsimonious, penny-pinching, coupon mama, money saving freak of nature. Yes, all of this and more, and I accept the mantle with a “saving” grace. One of the BEST things about becoming a thriftonista (yep, coined that term myself oh budgeting buddies of mine!) is that you learn good spending and saving habits, AND get to have almost ANYTHING that you want. For real, I promise.
First, I want to address the great misconception that you have about “thrifty” people. We are NOT cheap, and we do spend money. It is UNTRUE that the truly budget conscious shop only at charity shops, or that they live a boring, “cheap” life. First, understand the difference between thrifty and cheap. Cheap people will always care about the cost of something; those individuals who are thrifty or frugal will care about the intrinsic value of something.” I am living proof my lovely peeps, that you CAN be cost conscious, practice incredible self-control (note to self: avoid all shoe stores,) follow a dedicated and sometimes excruciatingly tight budget, and still do and have almost anything that you want. (Almost is a key word here….remember, we must ALWAYS be reasonable.)
So this week’s installment is about the three-month rule. Yes, you read that correctly – 3 months. We’ve all been working hard on setting up our new budgets (Hooray for you!) but what happens when you want something that is outside of you wallet squeezed budget? Should you pass? Go without? HECK, NO BABY! Inevitably in life, something comes up, and you need a big ticket item. Whether it’s a household appliance, new car (lease or buy) or something fun, you don’t have to pass on it. Just have a little patience. By practicing a little self-control delaying that remarkable sense of gratification (the new stuff high), spending wisely and respecting your tightly imposed budget, you can have what you need. Employ the 3-month rule.
What is the three months rule? Simple. If you need or want something (want is biggie here folks), that doesn’t fit into your budget, then suck it up, and wait three months. WHY does this work? Read on…
- You get some time to set aside the moola. How, with your stretched budget will you accomplish this? Look at the price of what you need. Divide it by three and set aside that amount for the next three months. Of course, this extra that you’re saving should come AFTER paying all your bills, and that includes debt (credit cards). Please note, if you need to make this the 6 or 8 or 12-month rule, adjust accordingly.
- Waiting eliminates impulse buys. You’re forced to wait, so use your budget restrictions and time to research whatever it is you’re looking for. I’m currently waiting to “meet” the right storage bench for my living room. It will have several needs, so it has to be perfect. I’m shopping it out online, and in local stores, so when I come across the perfect piece, I will hopefully have enough set aside to buy it now, or to make the necessary savings to buy it in 3 months. (This is sort of like the grocery store rule – never shop without a list and only buy what is on the list.)
- You have time to change your mind. OK, so if you’re like me, you wrap your mind around this idea of what you want/need. You obsess about it, research it to death, and then…. You change your mind. By enforcing a waiting period, you ensure that you REALLY want/need the item. If you decide you can live without it…BINGO! … you’ve just saved yourself some money!
- Delayed gratification. Yeah, this is one that’s a little tougher, but it’s a great skill to learn and to teach to your kids. First, the longer you wait, the more excited you’ll be when you finally get it. Think Heinz ketchup….anticipation. You’ll also gain a life skill – patience. Waiting it out makes you strong, and a good shopper as you price it out over time. I believe that teaching our children that it takes patience and hard work to get “things” is a valuable life lesson for our current entitled generation.
And so my friends, you see that living on a shoestring budget IS possible. Remember to always keep the big picture in mind. Step back, take a big, cleansing deep breath and start saving. Use a jar, envelope or your bank. However it works for your personal goals. You’ll get there, and you’ll be happy when you do.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕