I’ve talked to a number of people since I first posted my take on one of the many schemes to eliminate debt in a relatively short time frame. Some are doing it, while others, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to motivate themselves to do it just yet.
I have an unorthodox suggestion: Buy something.
I know the experts will jump all over me on this one–the best way to save money, after all, is to buy less. But I think some disciplined buying can help in the long run to make you save money.
Five years ago, on a typical day I spent $7 on lunch. I was also spending about $1 on breakfast. At least I wasn’t overpaying for coffee; coffee was free at the office. Still, I was spending $8 a day on eating out, and at the end of the week, I didn’t have a lot to show for it. To my credit, at least I was eating healthy–I could have been spending the money on Big Macs and have higher cholesterol to show for it, I guess.
I justified it to myself by reminding myself how much time I was saving.
When I found myself drawn into an expensive hobby and I started wondering how to pay for it when I was already trying to pay for a car and a house, I realized what I was spending on breakfast and lunch. By taking those meals to work instead of paying lots of other people to make them for me, I figured I’d save somewhere between $25 and $35 a week. Compared to what some people spend on this hobby, that’s nothing, but I was pretty happy with what I could buy for that kind of money.
But something funny happened along the way. As I get closer and closer to paying my car off three years early, I find myself wanting to dump extra money into my car payment. I guess realizing my $10,000 balance was costing me about $1.75 a day in interest woke me up. Sure, I’m happy enough on a budget of $30 a week, but what could I do if I had $42.25 a week to work with? The sooner I cut my average back, and the more I cut that average back, the sooner I’ll have that $42.25 a week to work with…
Having that tangible reminder of something I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t saving is a motivator that works for me.
What it is and what it costs probably doesn’t matter all that much, as long as it’s something you’ll see and use on a fairly regular basis.
Just save the money first. That way, you don’t buy it, then find yourself making excuses for how you pay for it.