What would your bank account look like if you only spent money on those items that you definitely used? If you bought the exact amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you’d eat in a week, if you bought only those books you’d actually read, if you bought only those clothing items you’d actually wear regularly? The truth is, we often overbuy and end up with things that we’ll never use or which go bad before we have the chance to use them. Every time you throw something away unused or leave it hanging around your house with tags intact, you’re wasting money. Worse than that, you’re throwing away the potential those dollars had because they can’t grow in your savings account or help you reduce your debt and interest if you’ve wasted them.
Take a quick peek around your house and find all the items that:
- are still in unopened packages;
- still have price tags affixed;
- haven’t been used since you bought them;
- aren’t going to be finished before they go bad.
Using a rough estimate (or exact numbers if you have them), add up how much all of these items cost. Then, do a second assessment; this time look for things that you purchased and used only minimally or those that you could have either gone without, purchased used, or borrowed from a friend or family member. As you did in the previous exercise, assign an estimated price to each of these items.
When you add the dollar amounts from both of those exercises together, what do you see? Do you see an extra payment you could’ve made on your credit cards? Do you see an extra payment you could’ve made on your mortgage? Do you see some extra funds that would’ve helped your emergency account grow even faster?
Preventing Waste, Lowering Expenses
When you notice a pattern in the types of items you tend to overbuy, adjust your shopping methods to prevent future overexpenditures. Throughout the year, continue to hold yourself accountable by assessing your level of waste from time to time and adjusting your shopping habits accordingly.