Author Topic: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"  (Read 5884 times)

drachma

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Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« on: December 18, 2013, 10:53:16 AM »
I'm a recent college grad.

[finance details not really necessary for the post but if someone wants to critique i can provide a budget outline]

I live on my own and would go homeless for a while before I moved back in with the rents. Not that we have a bad relationship; I just consider that option nuclear. I really value independence and don't want to burden them. Anyway

Basically, I have student loans and bought a new car and got into a new apartment before I realized, no, an engineering salary really doesn't get you all that fancy stuff that easily. And that I don't really want it anyway - I want FI.

I have/had an awful spending habit on amazon. it's like being addicted to food - you can't just stop eating, like I cant just stop buying toothpaste.

Every purchase I make it is justified in my head with "this will solve a problem in my life. It is worth $20." I know this thought pattern is FacePunchable and I've learned to identify it and come up with ways to adjust my habits to solve the problem instead. Phew.

Just some dumb examples - Rather than use my existing protein bottle and just make a good habit of washing it on the reg, i bought a new water bottle just for water at work. i had no electrical tape and needed to fix a fixture, so i bought 6 rolls. it's not like it'll go bad. and i use a lot of electrical tape. these are but two silly examples.

But the list of stuff I want is even bigger - pressure cooker, bicycle, sharpening stones... I'm very DIY and like to buy quality things and maintain them - but getting "set up" to DIY/maintain is expensive!

help me break the habit, or get better at evaluating which things are worth it. My kitchen knives are getting dull and im about to pull the trigger on a set of stones (that'll totally last me 20+ years, make my kitchen cutting experience sublime... right?)

aglassman

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2013, 11:13:13 AM »
You are in the wrong mindset!  Yes, a set of stones will make your knives slice through that tomato like hot butter, but will it get you closer to FI?  NO!  You need to replace "is it worth it", with "do I actually need this".   Will getting the stones actually save you money over the next 10 years?  Probably not. 

Interestingly enough, I had the exact same decision to make a few months back.  My nice set of Calphalon Japanease Steel knives (wedding gift) were starting to dull, and the "sharpening rod" was a POS.  I saw that I could use some stones to get these babies razor sharp again.... but I could just not bring myself to spend the 60+ bucks on a nice set of stones.  So I went out and bought something similar to this:

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/wusthof/4-stage-precision-knife-sharpener-p120329?gclid=CK2636GvursCFclaMgodzQYAdQ

Mine is only 2 stage, and was much cheaper than the one above.  It doesn't get them as sharp as original, but it is much sharper than your average kitchen knife.  It also is super quick and easy to use.

NOW, the main point of this exercise isn't to save 50 bucks on a sharpener.  The point is to get into this mindset with all decisions.  Do I really need a new bass guitar?  NO!  Can I get by using this old bicycle pump vs a fancy new one with a built in PSI gauge?  Sure!  All these little decisions will add up over the long run. 

MissStache

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2013, 11:20:30 AM »
This is all about the frugality muscle!  It is soooo easy to buy stuff from Amazon, so make it a little harder at first:  turn off one-click shopping, delete all your saved cards, and sign out.  Now if you want to buy something you have to actually make a (tiny) effort instead of using their brilliant and dangerous system where you literally press one button and POOF you have your widget.  Freeze your credit card in a block of ice so you have to wait for it to defrost to use it.  That's bought you a few hours of thinking time. 

Then, enforce a time limit on yourself.  Make yourself wait a month before you buy something you want.  Think about it hard during that month.  Will this make your life truly better or easier?  Are you badass enough to do without it?  If the month ends and you still feel like you need it, then you can buy it.  IF it fits within your budgeted spending, that is...

Now you are working out your frugality muscle, and it get stronger every day. 

When I first found MMM I was an impulsive spender like you are.  Six monts later and I can barely spend my $100 monthly allowance for incidentals.  Once you start denying yourself it just gets easier and easier.  You realize how you DON'T need all that junk to make your life better, you just have to be smarter about it.


Rural

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2013, 11:22:54 AM »
Here's a quick if not easy way to break bad habits like the ones you're describing: For 30 days, don't buy anything except for food, fuel if you need it to get to work, and medical care. Start now. It's okay to make an exception for toilet paper, but only if you run out!

Next month, you'll be out of the habit, and you'll find it's much easier to weigh wants against needs.

melalvai

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2013, 11:26:37 AM »
Another strategy is only buy used. (Except food of course.)

The Clash had a song about that: Food to rent/ food to borrow/ deposit required/ I'll return it by tomorrow

Anyway say "yes" to the bicycle-- but haunt the used bike store or craigslist or whatever for a beater bike that fits you. It's ok to take it to a bike shop to get it fixed up, and that might run you up a little bill. But it's cheaper than your car payment and cheaper than any car repair.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2013, 11:26:48 AM »
One of the biggest things to start working on is shopping used. Craigslist, thrift stores, garage sales... they have gently used and brand name stuff, and usually it's priced well below what you'd pay retail. Or learn to borrow when it's something that you won't use but every once in a while. Things like crockpots I see all the time in Goodwill for $5-7. Super bikes on Craigslist if you keep an eye out... borrow a knife sharpener from someone that has one...

Having a shopping addiction is a real issue - if you don't have an immediate need for it, then don't buy it. If it's something that is on super sale that you use regularly (food staples/household goods) then stock up if you have the room, but only if you have both the room and the money and it is definitely a need instead of a want...

I can't imagine blowing $60 on a sharpening stone, but then I have a perfectly good sharpening rod that came with my knife set that I spend maybe $15 on back in the 80s. I think maybe you're caught up in the "I must have the top of the line/best of quality since I'm worth it" mentality without understanding that paying lots more money for things doesn't guarantee quality every time, and that "good enough" is well, good enough. You do your research, you shop around, and you find alternatives and most of all, you take care of stuff so it lasts a REALLY LONG TIME.


senecando

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 11:33:39 AM »
I live on my own and would go homeless for a while before I moved back in with the rents. Not that we have a bad relationship; I just consider that option nuclear.


Hey yo!

CanuckExpat

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2013, 12:43:07 PM »
Drachma,

Good luck. I have similar foibles to you, especially with online shopping so I hope some of the response you get here help.
Just be patient, practice, ask  yourself do I need this, and consider if you had to move out of your aparment tomorrow, would you want the hassle of taking it all with you?

Funny, I've had my eye on a knife sharpener for a few months too, but have put it off with do I need it (I probably do, my knife is dull..)
As an aside, the rod that comes with most knives is for honing, not sharpening. A few people have referred to the sharpening rod that comes with their knife set.. not quite the same.

Also, it depends somewhat on absolute numbers. If your shopping vice is a $20 sharpener or equivalent every few months that you find yourself actually using, I wouldn't worry about it. If it is multiple purchases ever week, it adds up, and you end up with junk you don't need.

schimt

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2013, 01:53:19 PM »
one strategy i try to implement for things i think i "need" is i will put it on my wish list on amazon, and come back to it 2 or 4 weeks later and see if i still "need" this, and half of the time i end up changing my mind and not purchasing the things i actually take time to consider.

anastrophe

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2013, 02:16:03 PM »
I have this same problem with impulse "quality" purchases. What happens with me is that I become momentarily obsessed with perfecting some aspect of my life (cooking, exercise, whatever) and then start shopping for upgrades to my current system. And often these actually are good purchases--I adore my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker and use it every day, and my new handlebars are more comfortable than the ones I had on my bike before, etc. But I don't need them all and much of the time the improvement is minimal. I made food just fine before the pressure cooker, and I don't ride my bike any more now than I did before. These things are luxuries, and luxuries are nice of course, but are they nicer than getting out of debt/saving?

What I did:

1. Wish list with 90 day waiting period. By the end of three months, I've often moved on to a different fascination (they seem to be seasonal).
2. Budgeting. This is what it's for. I get $10 a month for whatevers, so if I want a $40 thing, I have to wait 4 months. See #1 above.

galliver

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 03:07:37 PM »
As someone recently/still in the same position, I have some suggestions...

1) First of all, I don't think the 'for a lifetime' mindset is helping you right now. You didn't mention an SO in the picture...what if you meet someone and you guys move in together and have 2x everything you buy yourself now? What if you get a fantastic job offer across the country (moving stuff is expensive!). What if you get a fantastic offer OUTSIDE the country? I think it's good to have stuff you enjoy using (sharp knives, good pots are priceless in the kitchen!) but you should also be willing to part with these items if amazing opportunities come along. I would look for items that you will like and that will last the 5 year range, and wait to buy 'lifetime' things until you buy a house and really settle more. So no more than $20 on that knife sharpener/stone.
2) To keep yourself from getting carried away with 'set up,' sit down right now and figure out what you think you need/want for a happy, complete, Mustachian life. Cooking utensils? Appliances? Tupperware? Tools? Sports equipment? Bedding? A pet? Put it ALL down, in the abstract (i.e. on paper or spreadsheet, not Amazon) Then go through that list and prioritize. Also figure out, at least mentally, what you would need to spend on these things. Critically consider if you really NEED the top of the line to be happy with it, or if you can be perfectly content with a $20 or secondhand version. Anyway, here's where the magic happens: I didn't get probably 3/4 of the list I came up with my first year in grad school. And probably a bunch of other stuff I might have. Because every time I thought about buying it, I asked 'is it really more important/urgent than #5 on the list?'
3) Put some of the less expensive, less time-sensitive things you want on a gift list. Give it to people who ask/care, if that is something you and your family/friends do.
4) Find a counter argument for 'it solves a problem.' Delayed FI can be one, but for smaller things, 'where will I put it?' 'when will I use it?' (at least several specific instances), or 'but I have ___ that works just fine' can be more effective
5) Don't rely on stuff to make you do things. I'm not allowed to buy craft supplies because I have like 5 projects in various stages of planning/completion right now. If I finish those, I can try some new things, but not before. If you have a closetful of fitness gear you never use, you won't use the latest gadget either. Taking a day or two to think about purchases helps realize these things.

Finally, taking a spending fast for a month or so to realize how good you've got it can be helpful, for sure. :)

annaraven

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2013, 05:21:16 PM »
I think folks have commented appropriately already.

A lot of DIY can save you money in the long run as long as you use it. I consider my pressure canner a huge cost savings - but I use it regularly to can things and saved myself money and have better quality on those. You will want to get a good knife sharpener, but it doesn't have to be a "great" one. Put the "great" one on a wishlist if you want and let others know that's where to look when they want to buy you gifts.

Good luck and nice to see you have such a good mindset already.


JohnGalt

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2013, 05:23:44 PM »
It's great that you're working on getting into the habit of analyzing your purchases to make sure that they fall in line with your long term goals and it definitely sounds like you need to keep yourself in check.  However - you don't need to go to the extreme of not buying any "set up" items.  The sharpening stones in particular stood out.  If the $20 sharpening stone will keep you from spending $50 on new knives and sharper knives make you more likely to cook at home rather than eat out - that could be a solid investment.  Sometimes being smart with your money means you do actually spend more up front for the high quality version of an item that will last forever rather than the cheap version that you'll be looking to replace again next year.  There's nothing wrong with that mentality - so long as you're being realistic with it and not using it as an excuse to buy a bunch of stuff that won't help you work towards your goals. 

I think Anastrophe's advice is really a good way to approach it.

You might get something out of the ERE forums.  Lot of DIY loving engineers over there - it might be worth searching that forum before making any purchases.  There's probably a decent chance someone over there grappled with the same decision and either decided not to buy it or they figured out the best long-term frugality option. 

annaraven

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2013, 05:29:40 PM »

You might get something out of the ERE forums.  Lot of DIY loving engineers over there - it might be worth searching that forum before making any purchases.  There's probably a decent chance someone over there grappled with the same decision and either decided not to buy it or they figured out the best long-term frugality option.

What's an ERE forum?

shamelessHedon

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2013, 05:36:11 PM »
Remember, all the stuff you buy now will be the stuff you will be trying to downsize in 15 years!!

olivia

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2013, 05:42:34 PM »
I completely agree that a 30 day no spending challenge will break your shopping habit.  I did this in August of this year and it seriously curtailed my shopping.  I've purchased 3 articles of clothing since August and the only things I've ordered from Amazon are gifts for people for Xmas or actual needs, like hair clippers for my husband's haircuts since our old clippers crapped out.  Previously I was probably purchasing 5+ clothing items a month and ordering something from Amazon once or twice a week.

JohnGalt

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2013, 06:19:49 PM »

You might get something out of the ERE forums.  Lot of DIY loving engineers over there - it might be worth searching that forum before making any purchases.  There's probably a decent chance someone over there grappled with the same decision and either decided not to buy it or they figured out the best long-term frugality option.

What's an ERE forum?

Early Retirement Extreme.  Similar mindset community (though a bit more "extreme" as the name suggests).  When Jacob (author of the blog) "retired" from the blog, he endorsed MMM to carry the early retirement torch him. 
http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/


Snow White

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Re: Spending too much money getting "Set Up"
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2013, 06:33:19 PM »
one strategy i try to implement for things i think i "need" is i will put it on my wish list on amazon, and come back to it 2 or 4 weeks later and see if i still "need" this, and half of the time i end up changing my mind and not purchasing the things i actually take time to consider.

I do the same thing with any on-line vendor.  I either put the object of my current obsession in the shopping cart or on a wish list but then don't buy for awhile.  Sometimes I set a time frame and tell myself to cool off for two weeks or a week before buying.  It is remarkable how almost always I delete the item without buying when I enforce a cooling off period.

Tonight after work I stopped at the mall to get a very specific gift from one store but I passed by my favorite shoe store (Clark's). A pair of flats in my favorite color called my name and I went in to find they were 50% off! Of course I would buy them; after all they were a perfect style, price and color for me.  Frugal me kicked in though and suggested that I go find the item that I came for and think about the shoes.  They would still be there in 30 minutes.  By the time I finished my errand I chilled enough to recall that currently in my closet were perfectly good shoes in almost the same style and color.  I left without buying them and for me, the key to control impulsive buying is creating some time and space before buying.