What are the rules or mantras that you use to stop yourself from spending money?

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  • #95864 Reply

      I am feeling so discouraged by our spending habits. I discovered FI and Mr. Money Mustache about six years ago and immediately overhauled our life to allow us to save 70% of our income. But it took so much time and mental energy to watch every penny, budget in YNAB, etc. so I loosened the reins, and now our spending feels out of control and I don’t know how to stop it. I am so tired of my job and want to quit so badly, but our progress seems so slow.

      We are in our early 40’s with cash and investments just over $1 million. Our basic necessities cost around $3,500 per month, but we habitually spend around $8,000 to $9,000 a month on luxuries and nonsense and I don’t even know what. Hair products, theater tickets, restaurants, clothes, activities for the kids. Our income is around $350,000, so we are still able to save a good amount. However, I feel so much shame that we fritter away $5,000 to $6,000 a month that we could be investing to allow me to quit my job sooner. 

      I know my “why”. I have tried imposing a waiting period before all purchases. I have tried giving every dollar a job in YNAB. I just can’t seem to stop spending. What has worked for you?

      #95865 Reply

        Sounds like you’re doing a great job in life!

        #95866 Reply

          Picture yourself in your 70s with not much money and suffering health wise not being able to afford medicines.

          You will have your perspective.

          The above will happen to 90% of the people currently in 40s.

          #95867 Reply

            Life is short. You can pull back when you decide you want to…

            Don’t shame yourself. Your spending has afforded you memories and joy – and it appears your bills and future are still taken care of.

            #95868 Reply

              I’d focus on savings rate goals not shaming yourself for your spending. Your spending is not unreasonable with your level of income.

              #95869 Reply

                It requires a change to your habits, behaviors and day to day. It’s called discipline. Very easy to overlook your long term goals when you have plenty now.

                If it was me I’d self limit by doing a 0 based budget and putting that big chunk in savings or investments each month BEFORE you spend it. I.e. set up a direct deposit to savings so your actual take home is much lower. Limit yourself in that way can make a big difference. You know what you need to do, stop making excuses and do it.

                The alternative? Accept what you allow for yourself and keep working.

                #95870 Reply

                  Sounds like you cut too deep. You went so hard that you starved yourself. I’ve never been able to do one of those track every dollar types of budgets. What worked better for us is to introduce artificial scarcity.

                  We decided how much we wanted to spend per year and I automatically transfer that amount divided by 52 into our checking every week. (We tried monthly at first but that didn’t work out)

                  Psychologically that is the only money that exists. The rest is saved and invested. Seeing the spend account go down helps to introduce a somewhat artificial guard rail which just works as a warning that spending is high.

                  Related: How to teach my sister financial responsibility despite her tendency to overspend?

                  #95871 Reply

                    Sounds like you’re enjoying life. You are doing fine with over 1mil. Life is short.

                    #95872 Reply

                      1) No guilt! You aren’t wasting money, you’re spending it on creating memories with your kids. That time is something you’ll never get back, even if it costs you a few extra years of work.

                      2) It sounds like you guys are doing well & still saving a good amount. If you’re worried about overspending on hair products; restaurants, & clothes, maybe make some swaps! Like make a family dinner night out once a week so it becomes a family night to look forward to together, or do family night IN & order takeout instead. I’m not going to say swap hair products bc as a curly girl myself, I know the value of quality hair products, but maybe see if you can find a drug store swap (many expensive brands have a sister drug store brand, same same but without the luxury label). With clothes- you could look for secondhand stuff, especially since kids rotate clothes so much as they grow, and sell things on marketplace or other secondhand apps as you make room for new items, to off put a little bit of the cost.

                      Anyway, sounds like you’re doing great! Don’t stress, just align your spending a bit more purposefully with your values & you’ll feel better about it

                      #95873 Reply

                        Save what you intend to save first and then spend the rest. But your budget sounds completely unrealistic given your actual lifestyle. Go download Ramit Sethi’s conscious spending plan thingy and see if that helps you set your priorities.

                        #95874 Reply

                          Waiting worked really well for me. I know you mentioned that already.

                          Another thing I did was if I was going to buy anything that was a luxury or a splurge I would make myself invest that equal amount. $200 sunglasses? That’s cool you can afford them, but $200 hundred dollars in the brokerage account on the same day. When everything is 2X the price it’s easier to pass up.

                          Proposed: Despite chasing FIRE, what is one thing you will ALWAYS spend money on?

                          #95875 Reply

                            We struggle with this too and it sounds like you are doing great. One thing that helps me is when I walk through stores or consider purchases now, I repeat this phrase in my head: “there is nothing in the world I want more than my own freedom.”

                            #95876 Reply

                              First try to remove the shame. You’re doing a LOT of things right. Maybe look at your emotions and mindset around spending and tags a more psychological approach. Like I grew up poor with hand me downs so I had to look at that mindset around over spending on clothing and “things”.

                              Second give yourself a nice healthy fun money budget that you can use on anything and know you’re still saving/investing and making progress. That might help you feel less guilty too.

                              Good luck and know you are doing so much better than most!!

                              #95877 Reply

                                Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Ecker is a great book. It sounds like the previous methodology you were following was too austere, so now you are overcorrecting in the other direction. You just need to find a balance.

                                #95878 Reply

                                  Automated investments are the only way I can be successful. Also, being realistic about your budget for fun things in life. Don’t be so strict that you’re miserable. As the kids get older, have them pay for some of their expenses, otherwise they’ll spend foolishly.

                                  #95879 Reply

                                    You have to figure out what you actually value. My basic needs are about 6500 a month, but my actual spending is closer to 8500.

                                    I don’t value having a nice car, so I drive my 12-year-old minivan. I do value experiences and travel with my children, so that’s pretty much where the extra $2000 a month goes. if things got tight, I could cut that out for a little while and save the money, but my savings rate is pretty high, and I’m at coast FI right now at 44 years old. Could I save more? Sure, but why? Figure out what you value, and spend there.

                                    Cut out the things you don’t value and save there.

                                    #95880 Reply

                                      The concepts in the book “Die with Zero” might help in feeling less guilty about having fun experiences especially with your kids.

                                      I also do “no spend” months, it helps.

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