If your income is in the middle and lower class, then frugality is the first step to financial independence. When you are frugal, you can live below your means and invest the savings to improve your long term finances. Increasing your income is also very important, but it is impossible to become financially independent if you don’t know how to live below your means. However, we all have our weakness when it comes to spending money. Sometime, you just can’t say no to a frivolous purchase. Do you have a frugal kryptonite?
My 2015 Amazon purchases
Let’s take a look at my purchases from Amazon in 2015. That’s the easiest way to check what I spent money on. Locally, I mostly buy groceries, home repairs, and replacement items. I’m sure there were some frivolous purchases locally, but it’s just too much work to dig through the receipts. Why can’t the credit card company keep track of my purchases like Amazon?
- $9.97 LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Fighter – RB40Jr’s birthday gift.
- $9.97 LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon – RB40Jr’s birthday gift.
- $8.48 Easy Flex Heart 24-Cavity Silicone Mold – Valentine ’s Day gift for the missus (which she hasn’t used yet.)
- $41 H&R Block Premium – Ugh! It is tax time again.
- $69 Fire HD 6 – Frivolous purchase detected!
- $19.98 Atika Men’s sport sandals – I love these sandals. I got it to replace my old torn up sandals.
- $9.99 Universal Gate Door Flip Latch – This replaced the broken gate latch at the rental.
- $7.95 Panasonic Lithium Battery – Our car keys were running low on battery.
- $69.99 Garmin Vivofit 2 – This fitness tracker is perfect for me. I wear it 24/7 and it doesn’t have to be charged. This was a Christmas gift to myself. I’m trying to be lead a more healthy lifestyle this year.
- $8.75 Plastic Ninja Chopsticks 12 pcs – This was a Christmas gift to Jr and other kids.
- $29.97 Oral-B electric toothbrush – Christmas gift to my mom.
That’s not a lot of purchases, but we can see that my weakness is buying gifts. The only one that is really difficult to buy for is Mrs. RB40. I gave her cash to buy her own gift for her birthday last year and that worked out very well. It’s just easier for everybody. The other frivolous purchase was the Fire HD tablet. We don’t really need it, but it came in very handy during our Costa Rica trip. I left my laptop at home and was able to work minimally with the tablet. RB40Jr also loves reading/listening to stories on the Fire HD.
Another habit that continues to be my kryptonite is my tendency to go cheap. If there are two similar products, the deciding factor is usually the price for me. I could have purchased a better tablet (Google Nexus) for around $110, but I went with the Fire HD. It works fine for us, but the Nexus is nicer.
I’m still not sure which is better in the long term – going cheap or buying quality. The good thing about buying cheap is you don’t spend as much money right away. On the other hand, quality lasts longer and you get to enjoy higher quality products. However, if I invest the savings, I’m sure going cheap would come out ahead financially.
Mrs. RB40’s weakness is shoes. I guess this is a common weakness among women. She goes shoe shopping every few months or so. That’s not very often, but it’s more than any other kind of shopping she does. Luckily, she is extremely picky so she rarely finds the perfect pair. I think she purchases about 1 pair of shoes per year. She used to buy purses too, but she stopped a while back. We have less disposable income now so she can’t afford those ridiculously expensive bags anymore. Well, she could, but we’re prioritizing saving and investing now.
I used to buy all sorts of stuff when I was younger. I still have a bunch of CDs, books, and toys from the old days. I cut out most of my frivolous purchases out since I started my journey to financial independence and life is still good. These days, I borrow books and CDs from the library and I don’t need to store them. Our condo is pretty small and it’s full already. It makes sense for us to only buy replacement items. Mrs. RB40’s strategy is really good, too. You can be extremely picky and just buy the perfect thing. That will put off purchases because it can be quite difficult to find the perfect item.
What about you? Do you have a weakness for certain items? What is your frugal kryptonite?
Image credit: by Howard Dickins
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.