If I asked you to list your dreams, what would you answer?
Travel to a specific place or places? Start a business? Improve your health?
Off-hand, some of mine are complete an ultra-marathon, thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and publish a fantasy novel.
Each of mine requires a much greater significance in terms of training, preparation and execution than reliance on particular possessions. In fact, in terms of possessions I own everything necessary to accomplish all three of those right now, even while owning less than 100 things.
Are your dreams the same way?
Do they only require commitment and perseverance? Or do they require new clothes every week and a BMW in your garage?
With every dollar we spend on something not related to our dreams, we choose to delay them.
In college I spent (lots of) money on things I didn’t need and gained no benefit from owning. CDs, DVDs, video games, comics, etc. In fact, I doubt there is anything that I bought in college that I still own. Looking at my list of possessions I literally can’t even find one single item.
Every single dollar I spent on those items was wasted.
Sure I spent a lot on spring break trips, hanging out with friends and various road trips too. But I cherish the memories and pictures that resulted from all of that and don’t regret it for a minute.
Which leads me to my minimalist spending criteria.
Before spending money on something, ask yourself three simple questions.
- Is this spending contributing to my shelter, security or health? Bills, rent or mortgage, healthy groceries, etc all qualify for this. Think bottom levels of the hierarchy of human needs. This is what should compromise the vast majority of spending each month.
- Does this item contribute to my dreams? Random DVDs that might get watched once or twice, books that will only sit on my shelves and fancy gadgets don’t qualify for this. For me personally, even something like buying new running clothes doesn’t qualify because I already own more than enough to enable me to train effectively.
- Will this purchase result in a memory I cherish? Spending money on going out to eat on a semi-weekly basis is a prime example of this. Grabbing a burger from a fast food joint to rush through during a lunch break is not resulting in a cherished memory, and it barely qualifies as contributing towards your health. Most times when we got out to eat, it isn’t a special occasion or even quality food. Skip going out to eat and prepare a meal at home. If it is the socialization aspect you want, invite friends over for a pot-luck dinner. Or just show off and cook up something healthy and tasty for them.
How much of your daily spending qualifies as a yes to these answers?
Any spending that doesn’t yield an affirmative to these questions means you are delaying your dreams. And fulfilling your dreams will be way more satisfying than buying another meaningless widget.