Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Talk Is Cheap

I have been thinking and writing a lot about frugality, early retirement, conscious spending and the like.  The problem is…well, I’m full of shit. 

Sure, I am much better about spending than the average American citizen, but is that really anything to brag about? 

I don’t spend on luxuries.  I don’t have high-end clothes, cars, or liquor.  Because of fairly cheap tastes and decent income, I am able to save a respectable amount each month.  That being said, I am not really challenging myself.  I buy tons of books, many of which are still waiting on the shelf to be read.  I eat out often.  A lot of the eating-out expense comes from buying coffee and inexpensive meals at the cafes that I work from.  (This message is coming to you from the neighborhood Starbucks) This really starts to add up.  I could easily make my meals at home and then go to the library to work.  This satisfies my need to get out of the house while also allowing me to save the hundreds of dollars each month that I spend in this category.

There are some categories of spending that I am content with, even though they are far above the norm.  I spend a lot of money for my boxing gym membership, but the value that I receive is worth every penny.  This really gets to the heart of where I want to be with my version of frugality.  I want to consciously spend my money on the things that I get real value from.  I do not get any value out of buying meals out of convenience at the local coffee shop.  This should be an obvious place to cut spending.  Likewise for books; if I am working at the library anyway, renting reading material will be even easier than going to the store to buy a new book that I may or may not read.

The goal is to get to the point where 90-95% of all purchases are planned in advance.  This really is the only way where I can be sure that my money is going to the things and activities that I personally care about.  If the purchase is not planned, then I open myself up too easily to frivolous and reactionary spending. 

The bottom line is that I am fortunate in terms of income and in terms of freedom.  If I buckle down, I can really make in-roads into changing my life.  I can do this without huge sacrifices, but I do need to make some.  If I live every day in line with my values, and my spending reflects those values, I will be successful.  If I do not, then I am just another blowhard with a blog.  Talk is cheap, actions are what matter.

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