Keeping my money safe from myself? Hmm… I’m not stealing my money, am I?
What if I told you that you’re actually stealing money from yourself?
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 like 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 of freedom.
Below are a few suggestions on how to keep money safe from yourself so you can put it in a 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 you’re turning your life into survival mode.
Essentially, that’s what a bare-bones budget means.
You strip off all expenses to the point where you can “survive” with the absolute bare minimum.
But everything is a matter of perception, including a 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 every penny you earn as you wish.
The only way to stop mindless spending habits is by forcing yourself to stop them. A bare-bones budget will do that for you.
A bare-bones budget will probably sound too extreme and like 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, human beings.
Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything, and I think that is the best definition of him.
If you’re unsure whether you want to go that far, 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 to help you with your bare-bones budget.
Minimalism isn’t about having a white space with a blank canvas.
It is about having decluttered thoughts and space, where you no longer find superfluous items but only those that are truly important.
Minimalism is sorting through messy, non-essential stuff, ditching it, and simplifying 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.
Even so, it has done wonders for me in terms of simplifying 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 that 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 to be part of a bare-bones budget.
So put fun money aside. It doesn’t have to be an 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 adoption 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 buying, either.
Every Sunday, plan for a week. Get your bearings for 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 the urge to spend.
Remove All Your Cards from Online Shopping
As we adapt to our new lifestyle, our goal is to make spending money as difficult as possible.
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 I was 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 forgotten 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 It for a Few Days
If you feel you really need a particular item, give yourself a few days to think it through.
Write the pros and cons of having the item.
Don’t forget to write down the opportunity cost of investing it!
When I do this now, I almost always 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 difficulty 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 to start looking after your future self.
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