I need some new tights and socks. I’m down to my last 2 pairs of everyday socks as I’ve worn through holes in 3 pairs in as many months. Same with the tights, holes popping up all over the place. Why am I telling you this, dear reader? Well, this example I’ve come to realise, says a lot about me. More specifically, it says a lot about my spending habits (ergo my saving habits). Almost six weeks has passed since I conceded to myself that I should probably get myself along to Marks and Spencer to buy some new hosiery and yet I can’t bring myself to do it. Around and around the voice in my head goes, “must pop to the shops at the weekend to get some new socks and tights”, only to be countered by “it’s finnnnneee, you’ve still got some perfectly wearable socks and tights, no need to spend money on more.”
Now, this could just signal that I’m a tight cow who needs to lighten up and buy the damn tights and no doubt many of you probably concur. It’s fine (I think I’m a little bit tight too). But what I actually realised is the perpetual saver in me is always there, just under the surface – the all seeing, all tightening of the purse strings variety. Conversely, this doesn’t mean I never spend any money either. I just dropped £80 on a ticket to see the Spice Girls next June with my best friends and another £150 on tickets to two of the Cricket World Cup matches. I spend money. But I’ve come to understand (without really acknowledging it until now) that I have an unconscious internal framework that I put every potential spend up against to see if it passes muster. An internal checklist of desirable qualities for spending said money if you will.
So what is this internal framework/checklist/habit of my perpetual savings habit?
understanding money gives you options
This is the underlying philosophy I live by and the guiding principle that is keeping us on the straight and narrow towards financial independence. The more money you have, the more options you have, it’s as simple as that. If we spend to our means every month, we would live an extremely comfortable life but we simply don’t want to be tied to our desks until we’re 65. We’ve had a taste of freedom when we travelled for an extended period in 2017 and it was glorious. We want to do so much more with our lives than be desk slaves – we want to train puppies to become service dogs, we want to be more involved in our communities, we want to explore more of this wonderful planet of ours. If we constantly spend, spend, spend then we won’t achieve any of our goals. And it’s for this simple reason, I’m more than happy to keep my spending in check.
a dislike of things
I have always been a bit of a minimalist (waaaayyyy before The Minimalists documentary dropped on Netflix). Even as a teenager, I’d do normal teenage things like buy clothes, shoes, books, CDs and DVDs only to have a mass clear-out every six months or so and get rid of everything (I wish I could tell my 15 year old self to just not bother buying in the first place). I like a tidy, uncluttered house and am constantly assessing our possessions to see what we can do without. I’ve finally got my family on board with not buying me birthday and Christmas presents and feel comfortable(ish) with our level of ‘stuff’. I just genuinely don’t like stuff and I think plays a big part in being able to pull the trigger when I need to buy something.
value based spending
This is where you could argue I am a hypocrite for all that I’ve said about not wanting to spend £20 on some bloody tights and socks because I do drop a lot of money on things I deem worthy. Some examples:
- I spent £260 a Mulberry purse when I needed a new one earlier this year.
- We spent almost £4,000 on business class flights to Australia.
- I bought a £400 winter coat from Reiss.
I don’t deny those are big numbers. In fact, I acknowledge that they are really big numbers and that I am incredibly fortunate to even entertain those things as options in the first place. Yes, I like nice things and my coat and purse are beautiful and I love them but I will also have them for many, many years. They were an investment, not purchases that will last me a season. That is the crux of my value based spending for items like that – it’s my internal checklist of believing it’s a false economy to buy cheap (you buy cheap, you buy twice) and being comfortable with expensive items because I am not someone who needs to buy things seasonally. Value based spending gives me a framework with which to check my purchases against.
last but by no means least… really big numbers
I get joy from logging onto my investment and savings accounts and looking at the amount we have saved. And if I spend less, that’s more money I can shovel into my savings. Maybe that makes me a weirdo but I don’t really care.
Everyone is unique and we all live to our own moral framework. This is me and whilst I’m not perfect, the drive in me to save a large proportion of our income is already reaping benefits as we’re moving closer to 3 years into our financial independence. You do you. And I’ll do me. And maybe soon I’ll finally get my tight arse into gear and finally buy those tights and socks (probably not).