There has been a lot written recently about the idea of a spending fast. You take a break from all non-essential spending (you still have to pay your bills and buy groceries, after all) in order to break the habit of mindlessly spending money.
While I don’t think I would want to participate in a spending fast, I do see the value in saying no to spending more money on occasion. Indeed, I’d rather prioritize my spending so that I am paying for the things that I enjoy and want, rather than watching the money trickle away because I’m mindlessly spending money on things I don’t particularly care about.
When to Say No to Spending More Money
In order to decide when to say no, you first have to look at the realities of your financial situation. The most basic question that needs to be asked is, “Can I afford this?” If you don’t have the money for something, the obvious – but sometimes hard to follow through with – solution is to say no and avoid spending the money. When evaluating something for affordability, it’s important to make sure that the essentials are covered first. Your bills, your groceries (but not snacks), other actual necessities, and preparation for the future should be covered before anything else.
Once you have determined that you can afford something, you still need to decide whether or not to say no to spending the money. Just because you can afford to spend doesn’t always mean that you should. Think about why you are buying something. Do you want to impress someone else? Do you think it would be “ok” to have it? Are you wondering if you might want or need it someday? These likely aren’t strong enough reasons to spend money on something. You might actually be happier not spending the money, and then using it later on something that you find more important.
Saying Yes to Spending Money
I like spending money. I don’t, however, like to just toss it away on things that aren’t very important to me. In the past, I used to buy a book because I thought the expense was manageable, and I didn’t want to wait to borrow the book from the library. Now, though, I’ve rethought my spending philosophy. Instead of buying any book just to have them, I now only purchase books I’m really certain of enjoying.
The same consideration goes into my other purchases. I recently bought a new car. I spent a little extra, because I wanted to get exactly what I wished, rather than settling. We have a “small” TV because we don’t want to spend the money it would take to buy a larger TV – it’s just not important to us. On the other hand, we are willing to say yes to spending more money at a nicer restaurant because both my husband and I enjoy eating out. The money we save by saying no to some purchases allows us to have the money to say yes to the things that we consider particularly enjoyable.
How about you? How do you decide whether or not to say no to spending money?