I drive a 2008 Kia … something… I can’t even tell you the model, because I don’t know off the top of my head. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s a 2008 model. I bought it from my mum for a discount.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to have a nicer car; but of all the things in life right now, it’s just not a priority.
We still have our Samsung TV that we bought in 2007. It’s getting so old that it takes 14 seconds for the picture to come up after switching it on.
Waiting for the TV picture to show up after turning it on
I’d like to have a newer, bigger, crisper TV; but it’s just not a priority.
Our DVD player, which we bought at the same time as the TV, finally carked it 6 months ago. Well, actually, it was on the brink for two years prior to that, but every time a DVD from the video store skipped, we would look at each other and curse the Blockbuster employee for not cleaning it properly – both knowing full well that our beloved DVD player was on its last legs, yet living in denial of needing to say goodbye.
My pent-up anger towards Blockbuster over the years hit a tipping point when I was forced to drop our loyal DVD player into the green bin, along with dirty nappies and the left-overs from the fridge that we always think we will eat. It just didn’t seem fair.
This drove us into the arms of Netflix, so that our movies would never skip again.
However, while still in mourning, I trod off to JB Hi-Fi to buy another DVD player, just in case we felt the urge to give Blockbuster another shot.
I bought the cheapest DVD player on the shelf. They all do the same sh *t, right?
Unbeknown to me, over the 10 years of watching TV and movies through our beloved Samsung devices, “Smart TVs” and “Smart DVDs” had become ‘a thing’.
Unfortunately for us, we needed a “Smart” device to be able watch Netflix on the TV. And our new DVD player was the only one on the shelf that was “Unsmart” – just like its dumb new owner – hence the cheap price tag.
So now we sit on the floor to watch Netflix from my desktop computer. Not exactly what I had envisioned when we went cold-turkey on hiring DVDs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to have the wisest of all the Smart TVs; but of all the things in life right now, it’s just not a priority.
Same goes for my phone. My previous phone plan began 4 years ago, but 2 years ago it met the little fishies at the bottom of the lake when I thought it would be a good idea to ride a stand-up paddle board home from a friend’s house after a Sunday barbeque and a couple of beverages.
To punish myself, I bought an even older phone from a friend in exchange for a carton of beer and used that for two years.
Actually, I bought the phone from the same friend who held the barbeque. Hmmm, maybe it was a setup?
After feeling as though my sentence had been served, I finally indulged in a new phone plan just recently. But even my new phone doesn’t rank in the Top 10 on the market.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to have a phone with a bigger screen on a faster network; but it’s just not a priority.
What about cable TV? We did have that a few years ago, but when we moved into a new home we made a decision to not have it installed. The upside is that I’m off the couch more and spend more time outside.
Do I miss it? Of course I frickin’ do. I love sports and docos and all that; but it’s just not a priority.
It’s not as if we can’t afford a nicer car, a bigger TV, a smarter DVD player, a faster phone and have cable installed. Heck, anyone can these days with credit flowing freely, payment plans, interest free periods, blah, blah, blah.
But the problem is that your lifestyle becomes a slave to these devices and your decisions.
It seems that so many people buy certain things or pay for certain services because that’s just what people who live where they live and earn what they earn do with their money, without deeply considering whether it’s what they actually want – whether it actually provides value to their lives. I still do it too. In fact, I make this mistake every week in some form or another.
However, what I believe we need to do is to continue to improve on making more conscious decisions with our money and prioritise how we spend it.
How To Save Money Effectively
We all work very hard for our money. We make sacrifices every single day for money. And, for the very large majority of us, the only way we earn money is to spend time away from our families, away from our friends and away from doing the things closest to our hearts; whether it be for a few hours a day, or a every waking hour, it is all taking us away from places that we should really be.
Do you realise that, if you made a few more conscious decisions with your money, you could reduce the hours you work each week by 5-10 hours.
Imagine that, another 10 hours each week to spend with your family and friends or engaging in a hobby or project that truly fulfils you. I know what I’d spend more time doing.
Me, engaging in my favourite pastime (kidding – I wouldn’t even know how to turn it on)
10 hours each week over a 30-year working life equates to over 7 years less work! 7 years!
Imagine what you could accomplish!
On the surface of it, my friends consider me a cheapskate because I drive around in my older-style used car.
They squint while watching my TV, because it’s only 48 inches, wondering why on earth I don’t by a bigger one.
They call me tight because I don’t have every sporting event streaming live throughout a surround sound living room.
And (up until recently) they said I was a scrooge because I ran a phone that was more than 4 years old and had to charge it through my computer because I left the charger in a hotel room and Apple simply don’t make those chargers anymore.
But my friends are wrong.
I don’t do these things to be tight or cheap or a scrooge.
My wife and I don’t put money aside for the sake of putting money aside.
We simply plan a little bit more and prioritise how we spend the money we earn. It’s as simple as that. I promise, figuring out your goals for the future will inherently help you find great ways to save money, because your goals will be the driving force behind your everyday spending.
We spend more time thinking about the things that make our family happy and the things that are important to us – not what society tells us is important.
I’m not suggesting everyone should drive around town in a sh*tbox, or have a brick as a phone; because different things are important to different people. We like to have a nice house for example, go on more holidays, go out for nice dinners with each other, or friends, and we’re willing to sacrifice some of the other things in life for these things, without needing to put things on credit every day and spend the following months paying it off.
We also plan on paying off the mortgage in half the term and have the ability to stop working at age 48. We make sacrifices every day, so that these things can be achieved. I’m not special. I’m not any smarter than you. You and I probably earn similar incomes. All it takes it putting in place a really basic plan so that you can achieve more with your money.
Your priorities may be different. You may prefer to have a nicer car but go out less, or grow your own veggies so that you can spend more on clothes, or have the latest iPhone, but rarely go on holidays. The way I choose to spend money isn’t right or wrong, just like the way you spend money isn’t right or wrong. It’s just different; which is fine. As long as it’s consistent with what’s important to us.
Everything is a balancing act.
But we all need to make sure we’re working towards balancing our own act – not the act we think we’re meant to be balancing.
Think deeply about your goals, your family’s goals and what’s important to you. Then, put in place a plan to achieve it.
This is exactly how I manage our family budget and I find it’s the best way to begin saving money fast and effectively.
Just recently, I launched a goals-based budgeting and savings plan course (BuildAFamilyBudget.com), which shows you precisely how to build your own household family budget, using these exact principles – teaching you how to determine what’s important to you and how to prioritise effectively. Believe me, it’s got nothing to do with being a cheapskate. The best part is that it’s all step-by-step, 100% online and you can go at your own pace. Throughout the course, I build a budget alongside you as you go – screen sharing and all – so that you can see exactly what I do.
Grab my 6-Step Budget Cheat Sheet to get started and then I’ll be in touch about details on the course.
After you grab my 6-Step Budget Cheat Sheet, watch the Dave Ramsey video below. It’s a very refreshing view on what ‘normal’ is these days in relation to family finances (hint: start watching at 1min55 – it’s just crap up until then, but gets better as it keeps going)
Author: Chris Strano
After playing a vital role in the creation of his two sons, Chris Strano gave up his former-life as a financial adviser to dedicate his time to providing everyday families with basic money management advice. Drawing on his years of education and experience, he has also developed an affordable 100% digital course showing young families how to build their own custom household budget and savings plan to work towards their goals, using financial planning strategies (without the cost of a financial adviser). You too can get started by grabbing his free 6-Step Budget Cheat Sheet at Build A Family Budget and follow him on Facebook and Instagram @SmartFamilyBudget.