I often think we spend too much time focused on money. I know that sounds like a pretty simplistic thing to say. And it sounds kind of funny coming from someone writing a blog about personal finance. Just hear me out for a moment though.
Of course we need money to pay for our necessities. And we need money to sometimes indulge ourselves in the things we want. But do we need to be so focused on consumption? People in many parts of the world would be happy to have a roof over their heads and enough food to eat. Yet many of us focus on having the best houses on the street. And these houses have to have new furniture and the nicest cars in the driveway.
That’s why I suggest that people occasionally take a spending vacation.
So, What is a Spending Vacation Anyway?
Taking a spending vacation simply means that you don’t spend money on anything besides necessary bills. Necessary bills would include rent/mortgage, utilities and gas. If you have a full enough fridge/pantry, you can even include food in your spending vacation.
You can take as long of a spending vacation as you’d like. I’d suggest you start with at least a few days and work your way up from there.
This means you won’t stop and buy a Vitamin Water from the convenience store. Or a coffee from Dunkin Donuts. You won’t get a new blender or package of socks from Target. And you won’t get a new video game or that new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting from Nordstrom’s.
Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t ever buy these items. It just means you won’t buy them during your spending vacation. You’ll often find that when you postpone a purchase long enough, you don’t even want it anymore.
Why Would I Want to Take a Spending Vacation?
There are actually lots of benefits to taking a break from spending money. Here are a few:
- Saving money. This will be the top benefit for many of my readers. If you’ve never sat down and figured out how much you spend on small, seemingly inconsequential purchases, you could be in for a shock. Seeing how much there is leftover when you don’t make these purchases is startling. You might decide to cut these items out of your budget altogether.Spending just $4 a day on a drink from Starbucks adds up to $120 per month and more than $1,400 per year. If you don’t have an emergency or retirement fund, $1,400 could be a great start for you. Or if you have a charity you support, $1,400 could make a big difference.
- Learning to appreciate what you have. Once again, I realize this point may sound trite. But, often when you stop spending so much, you’ll realize how much you already have. Spending time with friends and family doesn’t cost anything. It’s usually free to bike to a local park or beach. Reading, writing, drawing and dancing are all free and are enjoyable activities for lots of people.
I’m aware that many people are forced into a spending vacation…because they don’t have money to buy anything. But if you can manage to take a spending vacation when you don’t have to, I think you’ll find it pretty rewarding.