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Thursday, 9 March 2017

She's making a list...

I used to keep a big list of everything I wanted to buy. Every time I had a passing whim to buy something I would throw it on the list. At the end of the week while I was tallying up my budget I would write in an extra $5 next to each item. Things stayed on the list until I had enough money set aside to buy them. It seemed like a great system until I had over 100 items on the list, and almost $3,000 'held' for things I was never going to buy.

Since my March goal is to keep my Other / Miscellaneous spending as low as possible, it seems like a good time to revive the list.

In the last twelve months I've been spending an average of  $540 a month on miscellaneous stuff. This is pretty heavily influenced by paying through the nose to get an ACL reconstruction in a private hospital. My mental health was suffering from being restricted by my physical health so I chose to skip the queue and pay for the surgery ASAP. By the way, I have hospital insurance now, hindsight is great.

But even without looking at that one giant bill, over the last three months I've blown my $250 budget completely out of the water. Not just that, my overall spend for each month since I started this budget has been over budget. So I'm going to revive the list, using a google spreadsheet so I have it on me at all times, no temptation to cheat!.

The list rules

Rule #1: Hey look, a Thing I want! 

If I want something, it goes on the list. If I spot it on the list and think 'why the hell is that there' it comes off the list. If I think I want something and I find that it's already on the list, I'm going to keep a tally of how many times I've thought "wouldn't it be nice to have a life size lion statue" (hint.. never, I even had trouble putting that sentence together).

Rule #2: How much can I put to the Thing right now?

Any time that I review the list I'm going to ask myself how much I could put towards that Thing right now. If some money fairy was going to come spirit my money away, how much would I give him to save for that Thing ?

And to keep myself from going too crazy, nothing more than $10 a week. These are going to be fun purchases for the most part, although I may have to be flexible with things like 'Bathroom renovation'. Or be super inventive on doing the renovation on a teeny little budget!

Rule #3: If I had the money, would I actually buy this Thing?

This might seem like a repeat of step 1 and 2, but with my old list I would often have the money. Sometimes double the money. But I wouldn't go out and buy the thing I had saved for. Some of the magic of this list is that it seems really super duper important that I buy that Thing right now. Then I go and save for it for a while and realise I really don't want to spend $400 on a life-sized lion statue, I'd rather be that much close to retiring

Unlike my last list, I won't be looking at this once a week and pushing money into it. That would put me right back in my old dilemma of having thousands of dollars put aside. Instead I'll review this list as I think of it, keeping in mind Rule #2 above, not more than $10 an item a week.

This ingenious savings technique I have come up with has a name, it's been around for a while. It's called waiting. Mind. Blown! Did you know you could save money merely by waiting?! Amazing! Back when I was a teeny tiny child my brother and I wanted to by GameBoy Colours and the first Pokemon game. I got Red, he got Blue (not Fire Red, or Leaf Green, cast your minds way back to the late 90's). It felt like we were saving forever. Our parents bought us a 'money tree' - a kind of plastic money box that fit 100 gold coins in a tidy stack. As your filled it it had little markers on the side to tell you how far you'd gotten.

My brother and I hustled hard back in the day. We vacuumed the house, washed cars, learned basic remedial massage (my Dad had terrible shoulder muscles). My brother also 'lent' me his toys for a fee - took me a bit to catch on that he never accepted any of my toys back. Sneaky sibling got about $20 ahead of me doing this at one point.

When we finally hit $100 each we got our games. A quick google search tells me the release price for the GameBoy Colour was $69.99, and the game was $29.95 (oh how times have changed!) which comes out to $100. I know for a fact that my parents got them cheaper because I remember getting to keep some money in my tree. So by waiting we saved a little bit of money, but we also really appreciated those games.

I always thought I hadn't succumbed to Lifestyle Inflation. After all I didn't have more toys than when I was younger. In fact I might even have less, I used to buy a LOT of books and video games. But this difference is how quickly I would buy things. I used to saved for 2-3 months before I bought a game. Now if I decide I want it, I have the money to buy it immediately, and sometimes I will. I have a frustrating number of games in my Steam library with less than 10 hours play time. The issue isn't that I bought these things, it's that I bought them immediately, without really thinking through the purchase. By stopping, waiting, and thinking about how much I want something I will inevitably find I don't actually want most of them.

I recently used this 'Waiting' technique to great success with a set of weights. I've been making noises about wanting a decent set of weights for about six months now. While I haven't had it I've been doing body weight exercises, but I was really starting to get to a point where I needed some more resistance. A friend piped up with a set of weights that had been gathering dust (and cobwebs) for a couple of years. Retail value should have been somewhere $150-200, he handed them to us for $50. Winning!

Leave a comment and let me know what you've gotten for cheap by waiting? What have you paid a premium for just to have right now?


  1. I guess the problem is you never know if things will get cheaper by waiting. Hopefully houses will get cheaper as we wait!

    We often wait to buy things at the supermarket before buying and eventually things go half price, or 30% off. That's a good feeling!


    1. Hey, thanks for dropping by! I've already got two toes in houses so I'd rather they didn't get cheaper :)

      I've found that most things on my to-buy list never get bought. So I might not find them on sale, but I do end up saving 100%, haha


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