Have you ever tried to fill up a bucket or other container, only to find that there are holes in it, out of which are pouring much of what you’ve poured in?
That’s often how I feel when I get a little extra income: I’m excited to have more to add to the bucket, but a lot of it is leaking out through the holes in my financial “container.” VERY frustrating!
So, what are some things we can do to “plug the holes” in our finances so we can keep more of what we work so hard to get? Here are three thoughts:
1. Find cheaper alternatives
- Instead of taking the family out to the movies, make it a Blockbuster night. Make lots of buttered popcorn, fill up big plastic cups with drinks of your choice, and crank up the sound, as you watch from the comfort of your own home. Most DVD’s even come with previews, so you’re not missing out on anything! Except maybe the girl two rows down texting with her friends during the movie.
- Instead of staying at a posh beachside resort for a week, go to the beach for a long weekend, and stay at a nice hotel that’s close to a public beach, but not right on it. You can still make great family memories, but pay a lot less than half the cost.
- Instead of the BMW, go with the Infiniti. Unless it’s a pre-owned BMW, and you can’t find a pre-owned Infiniti.
2. Keep indulgences special
- Instead of buying a pair of shoes every week, go shoe shopping once every six weeks, and treat yourself to two or three pairs. It feels more special when you’ve had the anticipation longer, and you feel like you’re indulging by buying more pairs than you usually would.
- Instead of getting Starbucks every day, get it once or twice a week, and treat yourself to whatever size and flavor you want when you do get it.
- Instead of going out to eat three times a week, go out once a week, and make it an event. Talk about it during the week and build up the anticipation!
3. Don’t swallow camels
One day Jesus was fussing at some hypocritical religious leaders. Referring to their obsession with the smallest details of the law while ignoring more important stuff, he said, “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24) We tend to obsess about the relatively little holes in our bucket:
- saving pennies on gasoline (of which I am guilty)
- saving the cost of a stamp (again, guilty)
- not buying a bottled water, even when really thirsty and there are no water fountains around (ok, YES, guilty!)
In so doing, we can miss things that are more important:
- getting a good deal when negotiating to purchase a house
- buying a vehicle that’s affordable AND reliable
- cultivating the knowledge and skills to invest wisely
Take the time to get a better perspective, and invest your time, energies, and efforts where you’ll get the best return on that investment.
How about you? How have you plugged holes in your financial bucket recently?