Have you ever found yourself buying something for the life you plan to have (or the life you hope to have) instead of the life you’re actually living? Many of us would give a knee-jerk, “No, of course not!” response to this question without really thinking about it; but the simple fact is that many of us are guilty because there are so many ways this can happen.
This is not the same thing as dressing for the job you want instead of the job you have, for example. Springing for work-appropriate clothing is a must for people in many lines of work to make the right impression in meetings and interviews. What I’m talking about is buying the nicest guitar you can get your hands on because you’ve always wanted to learn how to play. And then it sits in your closet for weeks, untouched. Or constantly buying up a rainbow of high heels when all you wear to work every day is flats. Or shelling out for Groupons to restaurants so you can go out for meals that never actually happen.
Whether you’ve got a closet full of clothes you never wear, a shelf full of books you’re no longer interested in reading, or enough discarded hobbies to fill a basement, this is a problem. It’s a problem because you’re spending money on things you don’t need or want! What a sad waste of your hard-earned money. It’s easy to make this mistake, because it’s sometimes difficult to spot such a purchase as you’re making it. So here are some tips on making the most of what you buy for your future life.
Recognize a Passing Interest
You need to recognize for yourself when your interest in something is probably a passing one, intense as it might be in the current moment; or realize that it isn’t feasible. My husband, for example, was very interested in building a canoe a few months ago! But this makes absolutely no sense in our current living situation or location, so the desire passed.
That doesn’t mean he ignored it: he read up on the idea online and checked out some cool books from the library. He had fun even doing only that. When the time is right, maybe he’ll renew that interest and maybe he won’t. But until then, we don’t have stacks of books, wood, and sealants sitting around our apartment, a fact for which we’re both grateful.
Recognize Future Needs vs. Future Wants
When you are buying for a new interest, hobby, or even career, you have to take baby steps in your investment. If you liked biking as a kid, for example, and would like to start biking to work and maybe recreationally, all you need is a decent bicycle. Pick one up from a friend, on Craigslist, or from a garage sale. What you don’t need yet is an expensive mountain bike with fancy custom suspension. If you’re beginning a new career in a business field, you may need a few quality, versatile items of work clothing that mix and match well. You don’t need a whole new wardrobe, at least not yet.
Keep Spending in Order
Even a great idea can be not-so-great if it comes at the wrong time in your life. Realize that not all investments or purchases are right for every person at every point. So just because you’ve heard great things about high term deposit rates doesn’t mean that that’s the best place for your money; if, for example, you’re wallowing in thousands of dollars of credit card debt, you’d be better off paying down that high interest debt.
Saving and planning for your future are at the heart of any solid personal financial plan. Just be sure, before you take any big plunges, that the future you’re investing in is the one you’re really headed for.
This article is by Sabrina Matheson, who blogs to share money saving tips on comparing everything from term deposit rates to private health insurance.