Keeping my money safe from myself? Hmm… I’m not stealing my money, am I?
What if I tell you you’re in fact stealing money from yourself?
Because every penny you spend today disappears from your life for good: you will not see it again.
You might think that’s not the same as stealing. You gain something in return.
Besides, your daily $10 lunch doesn’t seem much: it’s only a tenner (so you think).
But when you add it all up, it’s over $200 a month.
If you invest the amount in index funds at a modest return of 5% over 35 years, you can turn it into $222,595.80.
That’s the money you’re stealing from your future self who dreams of living a life with freedom.
Below are a few suggestions on how to keep money safe from yourself so you can put them into a pot and see it grow instead of watching it evaporate, leaving your future self to deal with it later in life.
Go with A Bare-Bones Budget
A bare-bones budget makes it sound like turning your life into survival mode.
Essentially, that’s what a bare-bones budget means.
You strip off all expenses to where you “survive” with the absolute bare minimum.
But everything is a matter of perception, including bare-bones budget.
You’re adopting this budget method to keep money safe from yourself, meaning you want to fix your bad money habits.
You’ve been spending as every penny you earn as you wish.
The only way to stop mindless spending habits is forcing yourself to stop it. And bare-bones budget will do that for you.
A bare-bones budget will probably sound too extreme and an impossible thing to do.
But trust me.
It will not cause you hardship to the extent you might think now.
If you don’t believe me, consider what this finest Russian novelist had to say about us, a human being.
Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything, and I think that is the best definition of him.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky
If you’re unsure whether you want to go that extreme, ask yourself two rhetorical questions:
Do I want to keep throwing away money because I can’t control my bad spending habits?
Is it time to accumulate wealth and prepare for my future?
Chances are you’ll choose the latter.
Below are a few things to consider helping you with your bare bone budget.
Minimalism isn’t about a white room with a blank canvas.
Rather, imagine your decluttered mind and space where you no longer find useless stuff but what really matters.
Minimalism is sorting through messy non-essentials stuff, ditch them and simplify your life with a few important things.
As a newly adopted minimalist, I have a long way to go to declutter space, e.g. my spare bedroom and desk drawers.
But what it did wonders for me is it has helped me simplify my finances and, as a result, the way I spend my money.
That’s where a bare-bones budget comes in.
When you adopt it along with minimalism, you learn that it’s not a matter of survival.
And it breaks off the control material possessions have over you.
One reason people think a bare-bones budget isn’t sustainable is because they don’t allow themselves to have fun.
Does it defeat the purpose of a bare-bones budget?
I don’t think so.
I consider minimum fun money as part of a bare-bones budget.
So put fun money aside. It doesn’t have to be for extravaganza.
For example, buying a book comes from fun money for me.
Leave Cards at Home
Not using cards may seem challenging at the beginning.
It’s all because you’re used to it. A new habit always causes a little discomfort.
If you allow yourself to get past the initial adopting period, you’ll soon learn that with careful planning, not using cards all the time can make your life simpler.
For example, if you have a packed lunch and use public transport to work for which you paid for a month, you’ll likely spend the whole day without spending a penny.
And without cards at hand, there’s no temptation for impulse buy, either.
Every Sunday, plan for a week. Get your bearings to last the week. You’ll no longer need to think about buying “stuff” out of habit.
Use Cash Only
Along with the above, challenge yourself to use cash only for a set period.
Look at the past month’s spending, work out how much you’ll need, withdraw the amount, be strict with yourself and stick to the cash you have.
I’ve experienced spending cash only for 30 days and it has helped me streamline my already lean spending even more.
Using cash only is an excellent way of reviewing spending habits and controlling spending urge.
Remove All Your Card from Online Shopping
As we adapt to our new lifestyle, our goal is making spending money as hard as we can.
This way, we can finally stop us from stealing money from ourselves.
Removing all your cards from online retail shops is an absolute must for this.
I remember when surfing Amazon in my bedroom upstairs.
Out of old habits, I was about to buy an item.
The transaction didn’t go through because I had removed my card (and forgot about it). And I couldn’t trouble myself to go downstairs and grab my purse.
Removing your cards from retail online shops works!
Think About for a Few Days
If you feel you really need a particular item, give yourself a few days to think through.
Write the pros and cons of having the item.
Don’t forget to write your opportunity cost of investing it!
When I do this now, almost always I change my mind about it.
Ultimately, few items ever pass my self-assessment question:
Will I suffer without it?
Although I didn’t realise I’d already adopted a minimalist lifestyle long before knowing what minimalism is, it has helped me put things into perspective.
So much so, it’s become a huge part of my life in every aspect.
If you are a victim of consumerism and have a difficulty of controlling your spending habits, I thoroughly recommend you give a bare-bones budget a try.
See it as an efficient tool to stop you from stealing money from yourself and start looking after your future self.
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