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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: COEE on December 02, 2018, 11:43:55 AM

Title: Spending more
Post by: COEE on December 02, 2018, 11:43:55 AM
TL;DR: I'm cheap - how do you get around the mental block of spending more?

I've been notoriously cheap over the last few years.  It was an important stage in my life.  I was getting out of debt while in a house I had overbought.  I was also unemployed for a period of time.  During this period of my life I would spend very little.  I did all of my own vehicle repairs, watched finances like a hawk, spent as little as possible, rarely did anything during my time off.  It was an incredibly important period in my life - but things are changing.

I'm now finding that I'm cheap.  Fucking cheap.  I still want to do my own vehicle repairs -- although I hate repairing them.  Even this week, my fridge broke.  I would rather spend the time with my head in my fridge than paying someone $150-$200 to come fix it for me.  I've probably spent about 6 hours working on the repair.  I hate doing this shit.  Last week I spent a couple days working on the printer trying to get it to work better - I failed on that one.

Today I have a computer that's not working great, need a new printer, a cracked phone, three old cars in the driveway that don't run well enough to drive, a bicycle in the garage torn apart, and a TV with several pixels not working and long past its normal life.  Stuff around the house that needs repaired also (lots siding, eaves, fencing, concrete, and more spiders and yellow jackets than I should have).

I'm financially at a point where all tax deductible accounts are maxed, I'm starting to save in taxable, EF is 10 mo, and ER is a foregone conclusion - it's just a matter of time.  In fact, saving more doesn't move the needle to when I retire all that much maybe a year or two. 

Yet, I live like a pauper and can't spend the money to get these repairs taken care of.  It's silly - I know.  Without question my time is better spent improving my own skills than doing repairs on things I don't know much about.

I've also been thinking about giving more to charity, but can't seem to pull the trigger there either.

I keep thinking about "Your Money or Your Life's" "enough" graph (  It seems that I'm on the left side of "enough" for me.

Hopefully this hasn't come across as braggy, just thought some of the situational facts were important.  Has anyone else been in the same situation?  How have you powered through and changed your mentality?  Any tools on changing of your mentality or thought process, etc?

I've tried taking baby steps - it doesn't seem to help.  In fact, I had someone replace part of the fence this summer.  It took more effort to find someone I wanted to do the work than if I had just done the work myself.  I will admit that they did a better job than I would have though.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Boofinator on December 02, 2018, 02:15:33 PM
One person's cheap is another person's frugal. All of the activities you described as qualifying for "cheap" status I find fairly enjoyable.

That being said, FIRE is not worth it if you are miserable. Find things you enjoy doing that don't cost a lot of money, and outsource the necessities that you truly hate doing. Just make sure you hate work less than those activities that you've paid someone else to do.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Penn42 on December 02, 2018, 02:26:02 PM
You wouldn't have to fix a printer if you didn't own one!  I don't print that much so the inconvenience of finding one when I do need to print something is bearable, but that could of course be different for you depending on your printing needs.

You also wouldn't have to worry about fixing three old beaters if you didn't have them.  Do you have a reliable car that fits your needs that isn't one of those three?  If so I'd get rid of them.  If not I'd probably get rid of two of them.  Especially if tinkering on cars isn't something you enjoy. 

The fridge you're just gonna have to repair or have repaired.  Or maybe you could dig out a cellar underneath your house.  /sarcasm.

I enjoy working and fixing on things, even in areas that are not my forte (appliances and interior finish), but I don't think I would enjoy it as much if I had as large of a pile as you're describing.  As I've been advocating this whole post I'd start removing the less essential projects from the heap.  Could perhaps make the list feel less suffocating and you could make some headway on the things that matter more without having to worry about the things that don't.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: GuitarStv on December 02, 2018, 02:47:01 PM
There's only a problem if you're unhappy because of your level of spending.

Personally, I'd find it really annoying to have three junk cars in my driveway . . . so I'd figure out if it's worth spending money to fix them (if looking to sell or drive), or just have them towed away.  Dead pixels on a TV I can live with, so I'd let that one ride until there's a major problem with the set.

Some stuff you're mentioning (spiders/yellowjackets) aren't even problems.  Ignoring eves and siding problems can end up costing you more in the end (you don't want water damage).

Basically break your problems down into:
- Need to address, could be costly to wait
- Need to address, making me unhappy
- Don't need to worry about

Then for the first two categories break things down into:
- Something I can easily learn to do on my own that will be a handy skill for the rest of my life (fixing a bike, home repairs might fall here).  Spend a little time learning and doing this on your own.
- Something that really makes me super miserable (fridge repair sounds like it's in this category for you).  Hire this one out.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Cassie on December 02, 2018, 02:53:25 PM
My last printer was 39 so for things like that I would just replace them. 3 junk cars. Have one reliable car instead.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: terran on December 02, 2018, 04:13:02 PM
I wonder if perhaps you're not cut out for the DIY life. Perhaps you'd be happier living in a small (as cheap as possible given your location) apartment with walking, biking, or public transit distance of work and doing whatever limited printing you need at the library, staples, or work (if allowed). That gets rid of the house, printer, cars, and fridge. You still might have to fix the bike or buy a new one though. How does that sound compared to your current life? What would you miss? How would your expenses compare? Design your life as you want to live it.

I know I'm sounding a little flippant here. I still struggle with many of these same decisions (currently renting, but not sure if I want to own again -- although I know I don't want to own an old house like I did before). It's not easy, but it's worth remembering you're not stuck. You can change all of these things if they're not giving you the life you want.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: COEE on December 02, 2018, 04:14:07 PM
I sincerely appreciate the thoughts.  However, I'm not so much asking for how to do things or what to do, but am more asking for ideas how to change my mentality towards these types of things.  How do I shift from being cheap to having "enough"?

Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: terran on December 02, 2018, 04:28:17 PM
I sincerely appreciate the thoughts.  However, I'm not so much asking for how to do things or what to do, but am more asking for ideas how to change my mentality towards these types of things.  How do I shift from being cheap to having "enough"?


Fair enough. How about a slight adjustment to what I said. We'll assume owning a house is a well thought out design of your best life, but that the inherent maintenance is not. Try to develop the mindset that paying for the maintenance so you don't have to do it is part of the cost of living that best life. If I ever do own a house again I know it would cost more than than renting (at least when I live now), so if I do it that will be a lifestyle decision I'm making with the full knowledge that it's a consumption decision that will slow the pace at which I'm able to save. Does thinking about it as a "cost of doing business" for the life you've chosen to live help at all? If not, why aren't you eating beans and ramen every night (unless you are, it which case stop that)? It would be cheaper, but you've made the decision that it's not part of your best life.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: seemsright on December 02, 2018, 07:15:11 PM
I myself have had to work on this mentality. For me it was I got rid of everything that I 'should' be doing. I got rid of all of the projects that should have been done but were not high enough on the priority list to get them done.

What project and or things that I needed to be done I paid to have it done. My house needed to be painted. I could have spent many weekends to do it or I could write a check and have it done in 3 days. I chose to write the check.

I could spend my time fixing a car or waiting for it to be in the shop. I bought a brand new one back in '12.

I am not trying to save so we can FIRE to waste my time on things that are I do not want to do or 'should' be doing.

Sure I could spend my time and maybe Fire sooner but I want to enjoy life now and not later. Painting a house or fixing a car is not me enjoying life now. So I choose to pay for those type of things.

My advice is to get rid of all of the 'should' be doings. List your project in a must need done order. And buy yourself some time and have some of the projects done by others.

It took me a very long time to get to this point. The fact that you are asking these questions says to me that you are about to go to the other side. Get rid of all of your should and see if that helps you.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: dhc on December 02, 2018, 09:27:00 PM
I sincerely appreciate the thoughts.  However, I'm not so much asking for how to do things or what to do, but am more asking for ideas how to change my mentality towards these types of things.  How do I shift from being cheap to having "enough"?


Why change at all? Sounds to me like you're frugal in a lot of useful ways. I agree with the earlier poster on getting rid of things that don't work and then just not replacing them.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Villanelle on December 02, 2018, 11:26:50 PM
I sincerely appreciate the thoughts.  However, I'm not so much asking for how to do things or what to do, but am more asking for ideas how to change my mentality towards these types of things.  How do I shift from being cheap to having "enough"?


Do you have a monthly budget?  If so, add a line item or two to give yourself permission to spend.  "Outsourcing--$100".  They allows you to have someone else do a car repair or fix your printer because you have designated the money for it.  "Laziness--$40".  That could be buying a prepared meal after an exhausting day or getting a new printer instead of investing time trying to repair the old one.    Some people find that having the money mentally allocated makes them feel okay about spending it, and avoids the fear of spiraling into uncontrolled spending and wastefulness.   And it clearly shows you that you are still putting away $x/mo toward your future, so that might ease the anxiety and angst.

It sounds like you aren't especially happy with the current lifestyle, or I assume you wouldn't be asking how to adjust it.  Finding a way to make that car repair expense feel more or less like not eating the 100% cheapest meal you can find 100% of the time might help.  If that's because you have a $200 grocery budget and are fine as long as you stay under that amount, have a budget for these things that are negatives in your life might help.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Taran Wanderer on December 03, 2018, 12:13:41 AM
Iíd suggest the budget track also. You know how some people create a budget to put limits on their spending?  Maybe you could use a budget to give yourself permission to spend on must-do things that donít make your heart sing, or even optional things that do make your heart sing.

Example:  right out of college, I wanted to get off on the right foot financially. This meant a savings rate of around 50% of gross income for me, and while I was heading in the right direction with my accounts, I was being so cheap that I was unhappy. I would not go out for a beer with friends because I didnít want to spend the 5 bucks (this was a while ago).  Finally I just made room in my budget for some miscellaneous cash each month. I didnít have to spend it, but if I did, I no longer felt guilty about it. Give yourself permission to spend and help your heart sing.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: Khaetra on December 03, 2018, 05:58:02 AM
+3 on the budgeting for 'oh crap' things.  You have quite a few important things you need to do as far your home goes and I would make those priority number one.  Forget the printer and TV, get someone to fix the fridge and take care of some of the other issues with the house you're having.

The bigger issues I see is that in your quest to not spend money is one, you're miserable and two, you've let things pile up so now it seems all overwhelming.  Take a step back, deep breath and make a list.  What can you reasonably handle yourself and is the easiest?  Start working on ONE of those things (not all the things at once, baby steps!).  When that's accomplished, cross it off.  Then work on something else that you can handle. 

For everything else that will cause you frustration/you hate doing/you will mess up, hire those out.  Don't so a half-assed job on something you hate to just get it done, otherwise you will either have to redo it, it won't work properly or you'll end up having to hire it out to be done right anyway.  Skip the first two and pay someone.  It's hard, I know, BTDT but look at as paying someone to do something you really hate to do so you have time to do something you really want to do.

Get rid of the cars (are all three insured and how much are you paying for them to sit there not running?) and get something more reliable.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: DoNorth on December 03, 2018, 08:02:19 AM
Call your local Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army and see if they will do a pick up on some of this stuff.  Before we moved 6 months ago, we donated thousands of dollars worth of electronics, clothes, and building supplies.  I built our house and was constantly reluctant to "dispose" of building materials because I thought I'll probably need them later some day.  The truth is, the mess and clutter were getting in my way of getting things done and sometimes the most efficient and cost effective thing you can do is to recycle, donate, or throw things away.  The intrinsic value for you perhaps is not having the mental anguish of the prospect of trying to fix some of these things.  Besides, printers are purposely cheap--its the ink that costs a lot of money.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: trollwithamustache on December 03, 2018, 08:05:42 AM
A lot of the efficiency MMM is preaching is like running your personal life like a business.

So, you would want to pay for preventative maintenance on your car to avoid future problems/expenses.
Same with house stuff... you may be ok living with somewhateverproblem, but step back and look at the value of the asset. Spend to enhance it. (ie, if you are going to sell the car, paperwork from a local shop that did the "tune up" is proof of good maintenance.)  You won't nail every choice with 100% efficiency, but you just keep trying for improvement.

Same thing can apply with well made products. buying well made things and taking care of them can dramatically reduce the total pounds of stuff you buy/go through/throw out.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: justchristine on December 03, 2018, 11:51:56 AM
When I bought my old house by myself years ago, I felt the same way about all the chores and maintenance.  It really wore me down.  I knew I was capable of doing most of it but the volume of it was exhausting for me.  I eventually sold the house and rented for a number of years because the work just made homeownership miserable for me.  Fast forward a few years and I moved in with my boyfriend who had his own house.  Because of the way we decided to split expenses, there is a special savings account with the money for repairs and maintenance.  Now when something breaks and I don't have the time or energy for diy I just take money from the account and pay someone to fix the problem.  I still do some diy stuff but knowing that I've already set aside money to spend on fixes takes the stress off and somehow gave me permission to not feel like I have to diy everything.
Title: Re: Spending more
Post by: frugaliknowit on December 03, 2018, 02:00:58 PM
You simply need to set up an outsourcing budget.  Stop trying to do EVERYTHING yourself.