Financial Short List

Nowt that I have a Spending Plan, it’s time to trim the fat from my expenses. Similar to the Short List that helps me free up my time, this will allow me to spend more money on the things that I really enjoy.

Focus

By determining what you really want to spend money on, and what doesn’t matter to you, it is possible to save money while getting to spend more on what you love. This is not more frugality advice: “Stop getting a daily coffee and save $4 a day (approx. $100 a month).” Instead, this process will help focus on the actions that have the greatest impact: “If you don’t care where you live and only use your apartment for storage and sleeping, move to a smaller place and save $300 a month. Then you can spend $200 more a month in your guilt-free category while still investing $100 more.”

The key is to cut ruthlessly from any category that you don’t care about so you can spend extravagantly on things that truly interest you.

Finding your focus

There are two main approaches to figuring out where to cut and where you should spend.

  • List areas that you love and don’t mind spending on.
  • List areas you don’t care about and prefer not to spend money on.

I find that a combination of these two work best. While it is easy to list things that you enjoy doing and things that you will never spend money on, the middle ground is often where you can have the greatest impact.

Paying attention to your reactions will help you identify areas where you can cut back. It’s easy to fall into keeping up with the Joneses and spending money on things you otherwise wouldn’t. Here are some areas you may wish to examine:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Clothes
  • Dining Out
  • Partying
  • Entertainment
  • Traveling
  • Hobbies

My favorite way to look at these is with the help of a friend. I pretend that they are telling me about a new purchase they are making in each of the categories and note my reaction. If it is negative, then I can generally cut my spending in that category. Positive? I have found one of my focus areas.

Some Examples

  • My eyes glaze over when fashion and the latest shopping spree are discussed. I buy timeless clothing that will last so that I can spend a minimum on my wardrobe.
  • I will talk to anyone about any motorcycle, enthusiastically. However, while I love Ms. Peeps, I love the experience of motorcycling, no matter what brand. Thus, I need any motorcycle that is reliable and within my budget. Newest, fanciest, and fastes doesn’t interest me.
  • Whenever a friend tells me of a trip they are going on, I wish that i could go. Travel is definitely a focus for me.
  • I always wonder what people do with all the room they have in big houses. My two bedroom apartment sometimes seems extravagant to me. As long as my basic shelter requirements are met, I am happy.
  • Any time a friend discusses a new restaurant I make sure to find out where it is. I love the experience of dining out.

The results

I only buy new clothes when I absolutely need them, intentionally keep my rent as low as possible, and don’t spend on accessories for my vehicles. This allows me to travel and go out to eat more often.

Recently, I have begun paying more attention to my reactions to spending. As I gain a better understanding of my financial reactions I will be able to create my Financial Short List. With this focus I will be able to spend more money on the things that I love and live a fuller life because of that freedom.

What are some items on your Financial Short List?

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