Frugal Living: Money Saving Tips
How to live like a millionaire
The book The Millionaire Next Door is a thoroughly researched book about the lives of actual multi-millionaires. The insights of the book are astounding. By and large, millionaires live more like the rest of us and less like the billionaires we see in Forbes. Becoming a billionaire takes extraordinary risk combined with extraordinary luck—and some would add talent to that equation. Becoming a millionaire requires principally patience and discipline.
The following are some observations from The Millionaire Next Door:
1. Millionaires are frugal. Of course there are exceptions, but most millionaires are frugal. They accumulated their wealth by not spending the money they earned rather than by earning vastly more than other people.
2. Millionaires drive frugally. Most millionaires drive cars for a long time. A very long time in some cases. Though they don’t necessarily scrimp on the cars they drive, they don’t typically buy a new car every year or two. More commonly, they drive their cars for ten years or more.
3. Millionaires live frugally. Typical millionaires live in homes that represent less than ten percent of their net worth. Most do not live in homes that would be described as luxury homes. By living in modest homes, they put themselves in a position to compare their spending to people who generally have much less money and thus feel less social pressure to spend extravagantly on their clothes, cars and vacations.
4. Millionaires save. Millionaires tend to have a discipline to save unusual amounts of their earned income, sometimes as much as 40 percent. Most Americans save less than 4 percent of their earned income.
5. Millionaires aren’t lawyers. Surely there are lawyers who are millionaires, but not many millionaires are lawyers or other professionals who work in shiny, tall buildings in major city centers. Such people, the book found, often feel so much pressure to consume their lavish incomes that they fail to accumulate significant wealth. Simply not working with or around high consuming people helps people to save and invest rather than consume.
6. Millionaires are entrepreneurs. Most millionaires own a business. They may not derive huge incomes from their businesses, but the business itself becomes a valuable asset over time. When millionaires retire, they not only have the benefit of savings invested like most of the rest of us, but also have valuable businesses that can be sold to help fund their retirements.
So, if you already live frugally, you already live like a millionaire. If you are young and you are consistently saving and investing your earned income, you can accumulate $1 million or more by the time you retire. Don’t fool yourself, however; you can’t easily turn a measly $1,000 savings account into $1 million even over forty years. Accumulating wealth, as the wealthy have shown us, requires discipline, living frugally and saving consistently.
I Earn More But Have Less; What’s Going On?
It is almost never hard to spend money. The more you make, the easier it may get to spend money with the result that you have less money now than you did when you made less money each month. Here are some tips to help you build a plan for your family to save more money each month.
2. Prioritize your spending. Spend your money in order of priority. Saving should be at or near the top of your spending priorities. Entertainment should be at the bottom. Spend only what is left over on those items you really don’t need.
3. Keep your savings out of reach. By contributing to a 401k, you make your money harder to reach—it is practically difficult to get it and if you do, it is subject to penalties until you are retirement age. IRAs and 529 College Savings Plans have similar features that make it easy to put money in and hard to get it out.
4. Limit credit card use. Don’t use your credit cards to make purchases you can’t afford. Use credit cards as a convenient and easy way to track your spending. Stop using the cards when you stop having money in the bank to pay for the purchases.
5. Prepare a budget. You don’t have to call it a budget, but you need one of those things that will keep you from spending too much money every month. Write down how much you’ll spend for each discretionary category, like dining out, groceries, entertainment, clothing, etc. Note that some of these categories are not optional—you can’t skip eating and the law requires you to have clothes—but you have huge influence over how much you spend—even on groceries
6. Follow the budget. The budget is only as valuable as your self-discipline in following it. Hold yourself to account. Remember, the goal isn’t to make you miserable because you can’t splurge on a smoothie while you’re at the mall, it is to empower you to be able to do the big things you want in life, like have a nice home with a mortgage you can afford and car that isn’t always in the shop. Remind yourself of your goals.
7. Keep a rainy day fund. You should seek one day to have a year’s worth of spending in a rainy day savings account. That will be hard to do. If you can get $500 and then a few thousand dollars in the account, however, you’ll find that these funds go a long way to preventing small disasters from becoming major ones.
By following these simple guidelines, you can empower your family’s finances with goals and vision that will translate into everyday decisions. Money will never buy happiness, but managing your money well can provide the peace of mind that will allow you to focus your family on what matters most.
It seems obvious that if you don’t have the money to buy things you want, you shouldn’t go shopping. The world seems full of people, however, who have charged purchases they can’t afford. If you are a self-described shopaholic, here are some tips to help you avoid buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have.
1. Don’t go to the mall when you don’t have money for shopping. Don’t go to the food court “just for lunch.” Don’t take your dry cleaning to a shop in the mall. Don’t pick up your prescriptions at a drug store in the mall. Just stay away until you have money to spend.
2. Don’t watch QVC or HSN as a way to get your window shopping fix. It is infinitely more difficult to talk yourself out of buying a specific thing at a specific price when there are only 16 left and they’re going fast than it is to talk yourself out of not watching the channels at all.
3. Watch only recorded television where you can fast forward through the commercials. The budgets spent on television advertising are huge. Ginormous, in fact. Advertisers wouldn’t be advertising if it didn’t work. The easiest way to not let Madison Avenue talk you into buying stuff you don’t need is not to listen to Madison Avenue at all!
4. Do not ever visit your favorite shopping web site, Amazon.com or whatever it may be, unless you have the money to buy something specific. Then buy what you need and leave. Fast.
5. Don’t research your purchase before you’re ready to buy. If you plan to replace your car in three years, it is dangerous to have a subscription to Car and Driver, or to spend hours on the internet reading reviews and checking prices and deals on cars. The same goes for washers and dryers, refrigerators and every other major purchase. There will be plenty of time to do the research when the time to make a purchase comes.
6. Throw the catalogs away before they even get into the house. When you pull a catalog out of the mail box, drop it immediately in the recycling bin. Don’t keep it around, with its imploring cover, begging you to peruse its special prices, new colors and fabulous designs. It is much easier to say “no” to the catalog than it is to say “no” to the cute top on page 44 that would look so good with your favorite shoes. You’ll find that if you completely remove the reminders of shopping from your life, you’ll not only spend less time shopping, you’ll spend less money. Before you know it, you can shake the shopping habit.
Are you a spendthrift? Three Tips to overcome bad spending habits!
If you love to spend money, you are not alone. Many people get a little buzz from spending money. That feeling you get when you make a purchase may be slowly driving you into the poor house. Here are some tips to overcoming your spendthrift ways.
The book The Power of Habit explains the nature of a habit in three steps, the cue, the routine and the reward. Whenever we develop a habit, according to the book, it follows that pattern. A cue acts as a trigger. My phone beeps. We respond with the routine—the habit itself. I check my email, Facebook and Twitter and return to my work ten minutes later. We then receive a reward. I feel loved because someone interacted with me.
The same simple pattern is at work with spending. If we’re in a store, we’re surrounding with signals to buy. For the worst spendthrifts the biggest temptations are deep discounts. Big discounts justify our guilty pleasure of spending money. Is the reward, really having the new thing? Maybe not. The reward may be the little buzz we get from spending money. How to break the habit?
1. Look at the cue. If you love to window-shop but tend to go from looking to buying, start by not looking. Find something else to do that won’t put you in harm’s way. If you are on a limited budget, window-shopping may be pure torture.
2. Focus on the routine. Identify those times when you actually spend your money on things that you really don’t need. What could you do instead? If clothes are your real problem, make a deal with yourself that when you don’t buy clothes that you were considering, you’ll do something else you love instead—that isn’t so costly. It could simply be buying a soda or an ice cream at the food court instead of that cute new top. Change the routine.
3. Check the reward. If when you change the routine, you don’t feel as good or better afterward, you may not be satisfying the craving. Try a different substitute. Try going to a movie or renting a DVD, anything else, to see if you can get the same pleasure with less money. Very quickly you’ll change the habit and save some money! Remember that when you buy something on sale that you don’t need, you’ve still spent money you didn’t need to spend. One way to find out if you have a problem is to inventory your closet. If you find lots of clothes you didn’t even remember you had, you can benefit from a little bit of habit therapy. Read The Power of Habit.
Spend Too Much On Things You Don’t Need? You Can Change!
Virtually everyone splurges once in a while, spending too much on something that they don’t need. If you’re like most people, this pattern doesn’t represent a financial problem or even much of an opportunity. You probably cut back on spending naturally for a few days—or weeks if needed—to offset the splurge and everything falls into balance. If you have a real problem, a habitual pattern of splurging, however, you may be dooming your financial future.
First, let’s try a financial diagnosis to see if you have a problem. Do you have credit card debt right now that exceeds all of your available cash? In other words, if you had to pay it all off today, could you do it? If not, you may have a problem. Now, consider whether you have purchased things in the last 60 days that you haven’t yet used. If there is one thing or even two, it’s not a big deal. If you can walk around the house and open closets and cupboards and find jackets you’ve never worn, shoes that have never been out of the house, kitchen gadgets that have never been in the dishwasher, tops or skirts that still have tags on them, camping gear that’s never seen dirt, home decorations that are stuck in closets and have never actually decorated anything or apps on your phone that you’ve never even used, you’ve got a problem. Keep reading!
Now, let’s consider why you’re buying things you don’t need. (I’m not a psychologist; I’m someone who loves to spend money.) Buying something is satisfying a need, perhaps for power or control, which should be coming from something else in your life. Give some thought to your biggest problems—apart from the spending. Give particular thought to things that make you feel like you want to go shopping. It may be the way your boss makes you feel. Anything that makes you feel powerless, anxious, or unappreciated, could be contributing to the problem. If you can identify the problem, you may be able to identify an alternative to shopping.
If not having enough money makes you anxious when bills come—and they come often —you could be shopping with your credit cards as a (futile) way to regain control over your finances. If your boss belittles you at the office, mocking your contributions, spending may give you a sense of power that helps compensate. If your spouse or children have been taking you for granted and you don’t feel appreciated, splurging on yourself may be a way to soothe your hurt feelings.
If you can identify the trigger, the pain point that most drives you to want to shop, you may be able to identify another behavior that would reduce the impact of the trigger. Just understanding that you shop because your boss yells at you could help you resist the temptation to shop. Even more constructively, you could speak with your boss about the problem. If that doesn’t work, you could even look for a new job. By trying to solve the problem at the root of your problem, you may be able to take control of your life again.
It may take some time, but each time you feel the urge to splurge, ask yourself the question, “why?” When you find the answer, you may be able to solve two problems at once: you may be able change or get away from an unhealthy situation and enable yourself to quit spending money you don’t have.
What Can You Live Without? Four Rules To Help You Decide
For everyone who’d like to spend a little less and save a little more, deciding what you can live without often becomes a key question. Thankfully, very few people in America —though not none—are faced with this question in a literal sense. For most, the application of the question, “Can I live without this?” usually involves an item much more like a Prada bag or an iPhone than food or medicine. So how do you really decide what you can “live” without?
1. Utility and productivity: If your washing machine breaks and you have four kids, it could quickly become a real problem to not have a functioning washing machine. The utility and productivity of the washing machine would easily justify the purchase in most homes with children. On the other hand, it may be difficult to identify the utility of a cute new top. Unless you don’t have any, chances are the top is functionally interchangeable with half a dozen others at home. You can probably live without that.
2. Affordability: If you’re out running errands and you find yourself dead tired, stopping at Starbucks for a scone and a cold beverage won’t likely ruin your budget for the month (if you don’t do it every day) and it may just get you through a busy day to take a moment for yourself. Stopping at Nordstrom for a new pair of pumps for $300 as a reward, on the other hand, may blow the budget and undo weeks of progress.
3. Personal v. communal: The last time your husband spent $350 on himself without talking to you first, you likely wanted to break his new putter over your knee. On the other hand, if he walked in to suggest a long weekend in a cabin with the whole family that would cost about $350, you’d probably celebrate. Finding a way to really share the joy in an occasional splurge will make it easier for everyone to swallow any setback to the budget.
4. Budget: If you’re fortunate enough to have a budget that allows for you to purchase a new Dolce & Gabbana handbag, more power to you. If, on the other hand, a new handbag from the Gap isn’t in the budget, it may not really matter in your household that it is 1/20th the price of the D&G bag, you still can’t afford it. You’ll likely notice that there isn’t a rule for how much cooler it is than the thing it would replace. It really isn’t a fair question to ask whether the new iPhone is 18% lighter or 10% bigger. It certainly doesn’t matter than some shallow-minded spendthrift is convinced that you just can’t be cool without the latest iteration of some new technology. Subject your iPhone purchase to the rules above and if it works, great—otherwise wait!
Finding Cheaper Hobbies or Cheaper Ways to Enjoy Your Hobbies
Hobbies and sports are important parts of a balanced life, but some can get expensive in a real hurry. Consider how expensive golf can be, with special equipment (clubs, an expensive bag to hold the clubs, and a variety of little gadgets to go in all the pockets), supplies (balls and tees), clothes (special shoes, hats, shirts and pants), lessons, practice at the driving range and then finally green fees and a cart. Golf can become very expensive.
If you don’t golf and your spouse does, I suspect you’ve known that golfing can be very expensive for a long time! Many sports and hobbies get expensive quickly. Here are some ideas to help cut down on the costs:
1. Running is a less expensive sport than cycling. If you are interested in getting in shape, try running (you may need to try walking first, I know I did) rather than cycling. Not only is the bike expensive, but the carriers for the bike on the car, the special shoes and clothes all add up to make cycling more expensive than running.
2. Golf on a cheaper course. Presuming you’ve already picked up golf as a sport, consider looking for cheaper courses to play or playing just nine holes rather than 18.
3. Make handicrafts pay for themselves. If you like crafting and want to make some money from your hobby—at least enough to pay for the hobby—be careful not to over invest. Before you spend thousands of dollars on a quilting machine, borrow one to see if you like using it and if you can sell what you made.
4. Restore it, then sell it. If you love to restore old things like cars or furniture, you should be able to get all of your money back—and then some—when you sell the things you restore. It may not be possible to earn a living with your hobby, but you can at least pay for all the resources required for it.
5. Try genealogy. You may be shocked to discover how little you know about your grandparents and may know nothing at all about your great grandparents. Tremendous amounts of information are available for free from FamilySearch. Not only is genealogy easy and cheap to start, it will give you and your family a greater sense of who you are.
6. Get it at the library. Get your books at the library rather than at the bookstore. You can even check out digital books at the library now! People, even parents, all need a little time to play, to challenge themselves and to learn new things. Don’t be afraid to have a hobby—be afraid not to have one. If your budget is tight, try things that are virtually free, like genealogy, walking, and reading. A hobby doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyed; a hobby you can enjoy with your spouse and kids—at least some of the time—may be the best of all.
How to save money on the things you absolutely have to buy
The easiest way to save money on a purchase is not to make it! When you absolutely have to make the purchase for food, clothes, shelter and transportation, you need to get the best deal you can. Here’s how:
1. Visit CouponMom.com today to learn how to minimize your food bill using coupons in combination with in store specials, using the online resources there that will help you never to miss a good deal you need. The site features in depth training to maximize your savings!
2. Find the great thrift stores in your town where you can buy used goods, especially clothes for a fraction of the new price. Remember, it will be used as soon as you wear it once anyone—why not pay $4 for a shirt instead of $20.
3. Shop garage sales on the weekends for the things you need. Don’t be drawn in by the opportunity to buy someone else’s junk, just because you can buy it for 75 cents. On the other hand, if you need a student desk for your kids, you may be amazed at what you can get at garage sales for $5 or $10.
4. When buying a car, look for a used car being sold by an individual. If you can afford a relatively new car that is still under factory warranty that is especially safe. Be sure to visit CarFax.com to check the status of the title. A “salvage” title means that the car was once totaled and someone salvaged and, you hope, restored the car. A salvage title does not mean the car’s warranty is voided, but it does mean the car will be worth less as a trade in or when you go to sell it.
5. Get to know Craigslist and eBay. Craigslist is like a giant, ongoing garage sale. When you need something, before you buy a new one, check for a used one in good condition on Craigslist. eBay is especially good for things that can be shipped efficiently—relative to price. I’ve bought and sold several cars on eBay, some which had to be shipped across the country. (Once you’re comfortable buying on the sites, you’ll learn how to sell there, too—but that’s another topic.)
6. Craigslist and other sites also feature homes for sale by owner, which sometimes sell for a bit less than homes sold by brokers—if only because everyone involved in the transaction knows there is no broker. If you try that, you may want to hire an agent or an attorney to help you with the transaction—for less than the standard commission.
7. Zillow.com will give you an objective, scientific estimate for the value of virtually any home, which can help you avoid overpaying for your next home.
8. Whenever you buy something on-line, you’ll often notice a little box for a discount code. Before you surrender your credit card, do a quick Google search for the thing you’re buying at the store you’re buying it with the words “discount code” added to the search. Dozens of sites track and share codes—many of which quickly expire—but can save you big bucks when you check out.
Whenever you must buy something—or simply choose to buy something because you can afford it—take an extra few minutes—or a few hours for big purchases like homes and cars—to get educated, find the discounts and the opportunities so you never overpay. But don’t ever forget, you’re not saving money if you’re spending it!
Tips To Help You Eat Out Less And Save Money When You Do
Americans eat 20% of their meals in commercial establishments, meaning that on average folks are eating out more than four times per week. If you are among the 50% or so of Americans who eat out that much or more, consider the following tips to cut back on eating out.
1. Special occasions: save dining out for special occasions.
2. Buy frozen dinners: many frozen dinners offer the convenience of a meal out at lower prices and with the added benefit that you can do your meal planning for good health. It’s harder to eat healthy in a restaurant; even if the calories are posted, most of the nutritional information is still lacking.
3. Learn to cook the foods you love to eat: if you find that you don’t enjoy the food you cook at home as much as you enjoy the food you eat out, take a class and learn to cook the food you really love. Most people grow up eating and learning to cook what their parents eat. Many Americans over the last generation learned to love Mexican food eating out but don’t know how to cook it at home. If you love Mexican food, Indian food, Chinese food, you can learn to cook it at home.
4. Invest modestly in the kitchen: it would be easy to blow a lot more money on the kitchen than you spend eating out, but buying a few handy items for the kitchen to make food preparation easier and faster could be money well spent. The most used appliance (apart from the fridge) in our kitchen is a $50 mixer that gets used virtually every day. No more smoothies at the mall!
5. Have a meal marathon: prepare dishes that can be frozen for future meals on the weekend, then pull them out of the freezer and eat them during the weeks that follow.
6. Daily deals: sign up for Groupon and LivingSocial to get the daily deals they offer. Be disciplined about it. Buy only the deals for the places where you’d eat anyway so that you are using the coupons to save money, not to try fancy new restaurants.
7. Check the restaurant web site: if you have a favorite restaurant, check the web site for an opportunity to sign up for special deals, coupons, etc.
8. Water vs. soda: soda you buy in the grocery store may cost as little as 1/10 of the price in a restaurant. Drink soda at home and drink water in a restaurant.
9. Specials: there are two sorts of specials in restaurants—good ones and bad ones. The good ones are often regular menu items discounted (the good ones). The bad ones are dishes the chef thought it would be nice to try that are often more expensive than other menu options. Watch out for those when you’re dining on a budget. 10. Pass the valet: whenever possible, pass the valet and park your car yourself. Save your money for the food!
By dining out less often and with a keen eye on the budget, you can still enjoy the experience without burning so much money each month.
How Spending Cash Can Save You Money!
One easy way to control spending on discretionary, personal items is to give yourself an allowance, just like a twelve-year-old, in cash. Then, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
The following guidelines will help make this principle effective for controlling spending.
1. Define what the money is for and what it does and doesn’t cover. For instance, you may decide that your allowance covers lunch but not dinner or snacks at the movies but not the theater tickets. Presumably, you’ll use a debit card or credit card (or write a check —does anyone still do that?) for expenses not covered by your allowance. You have to be honest with yourself about this and with your spouse! You don’t want to have a fight mid-month when the cash runs out over what you spent it on.
2. Define uses of cash narrowly. If you decide to use cash for a variety of purposes, you’ll have a much more difficult time tracking where your money goes. Credit cards seem to offer the best electronic tracking of purchases and are typically reported in real time. If you try to keep track of your cash, you’ll find your wallet fills up with receipts in a big hurry.
3. Define the time period that the cash covers. Depending on the convenience of getting to the ATM (and whether you have to pay a fee there) you’ll want to decide how often you’ll go pull out some cash for your allowance. Your rule should be easy to use, for instance, once each month on the same day, twice monthly on the 1st and 16th, or every Monday morning. Design a rule that will work for you.
4. Strictly avoid using cash for things it was not intended to cover. If you’ve decided your allowance money doesn’t cover dinners with your spouse, when you’re out with him for dinner, use your card to pay for dinner. If something comes up where you are forced to use some of your precious cash for something outside the plan, keep the receipt and pull out some extra money for that purpose.
5. Be sure to inventory your cash periodically. If you are on a monthly plan, you’d hate to have your allowance all gone before the end of the month. Check to see what’s left!
6. When you run out, stop spending. If that means taking a sack lunch to work for a few days at the end of a month, so be it. Allow yourself to suffer the natural consequences of over spending.
7. Feel free to treat yourself with the surplus at the end of the month. If you do a good job and have money left over, reward your discipline with a treat, whether that is an ice cream cone or a new top at the Gap, enjoy your just reward.
Finding ways to limit spending and to develop self-discipline will empower you to save more and build a future for yourself that is safe and secure.
I Wanna Get Rich Quick. How Do I?
The art of getting rick quick can be summarized with one word: luck. The key to getting rich quick is, in many cases, to do the opposite of what you should do if your goal is to retire at 65 or 70 with plans to golf three days each week. To get rich quick, you need to start by ignoring your family, your community and your faith and instead focus entirely on yourself. Ready?
Here are the surefire ways to get rich quick:
1. Quit your job today. If you stay at your job it may take the rest of your career to accumulate a million dollars—if you ever do. Start your quest for instant wealth by walking out the door. Never mind the bridges you’ll burn, you’re going to be rich, quick! Whatever you do, don’t stay at your job for the next 30 years contributing to your 401k— that surefire way to wealth will take too long.
2. Go to Vegas and bet it all. If you are serious about getting rich fast, head to the nearest casino and gamble until you have achieved wealth. Of course, you understand that it is almost certain that you’ll lose all of your money, but if you don’t bet it all right now, you can’t get rich quick. Whatever you do, don’t put the gambling money in the bank where it will earn interest at a lower rate than 1%.
3. Bet all of your money on one stock. If you don’t want to go to Vegas to gamble, you can put all of your money on one risky stock. Perhaps it will rise tenfold this year. It’s happened before. Of course, it’s equally likely to go bankrupt as to rise so much. The most likely thing is that it will go up or down a little and you won’t be rich quickly at all. You absolutely don’t want to diversify your portfolio with a dozen or more stocks to eliminate the risk of one filing bankruptcy because that eliminates the benefit of one going up tenfold. More than anything, you don’t want to invest in well-researched collection of mutual funds run by professional managers. The way they work, it could take 30 years of prudent saving and investing to get rich. That’s clearly not for you.
4. Forgets stocks, invest in options. If you are serious about getting rich quickly, you can use the leverage of options to make your gains even bigger. Options give you the right, but not the obligation to buy (or sell) the underlying stock (or bond, or commodity contract). With a few thousand dollars you can buy options potentially worth a million dollars if just the right, highly unlikely thing occurs. Of course, that means that almost certainly you’ll have lost all of your money on your first investment. But it will have been lots of fun. Of course, you would never want to build your investment portfolio of plain old ordinary mutual funds that can reasonably be expected to appreciate in value consistently over the next thirty years. You don’t have the patience for that.
5. Not a financier, try entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are heroes. They’re cool. They’re sexy. Take all of your money, call yourself an entrepreneur and then think of a business. It’s easy. Never mind that most businesses fail. Ignore the fact that businesses built around the simple premise of making money quickly fail faster than average. The last thing you’d want to do if your goal is to get rich quick, would be to carefully build a team around you that includes people who are generally smarter, older and more experienced who could help you launch a business. Whatever you do, if you want to get rich quick, don’t start a business that you actually care about, where you’d want to work for the next
30 years. That sounds an awful lot like having a job, working hard and waiting a long time to actually become rich.
If none of these strategies sound good to you, perhaps it’s because you don’t really want to get rich quick. Maybe what you really want is to put your family first, to build a career based on integrity, to buy a home where you can raise your children, and to partner with your spouse in the greatest effort in life: to plan to spend quality time with your grandchildren.
Don’t Walk On The Heels Of Your Shoes And Seven Other Tips For Taking Care Of Your Stuff
Long ago I remember hearing some great counsel: don’t walk on the heels of your shoes. It was not only a specific direction for how to make sure your shoes last for a long time, but it was (and was intended to be) a metaphor suggesting the need to care for all of our stuff.
Stuff isn’t as important as people or our relationships with people, but if we care for and respect our stuff, we’ll have to replace it less often, which is both good for the environment and for our wallets. So here are some other tips in the spirit of not walking on the backs of your shoes.
1. Wash your car regularly. By washing your car, you’ll be more comfortable in it, making it seem more appropriate to get it serviced and cared for in a timely way. By making your car last a long time, you empower yourself to really save.
2. Keep your yard neatly trimmed and clean. Not only will your neighbors thank you, but you are likely to identify potential problems with bug infestations, sprinkler problems, even problems with the exterior of the house if you are out in the yard regularly mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes.
3. Teach the kids to care for their toys. Not only are bicycles and skateboards left in the front yard an eye-sore, they are a mighty temptation for the neighborhood punks who might somehow find it amusing to ride a six-year-old girl’s bike into the nearest river or watch it bounce down a nearby hillside.
4. Repurpose and repair clothes. When one child grows out of something, with any luck there is a sibling who can get some use from it. When buttons fall off, replace them. When a dress shirt gets a stain or the cuffs become too warn for the office, a yard-work and painting shirt has been born.
5. Keep your house clean. Having a few things out of place is a great reminder that a family lives in the house and that’s what makes it a home. On the other hand, if you can’t find the vacuum and there is stuff growing in the fridge and the shower, you are wasting money. Everything in your home will last longer if it is clean, not only because the dirt, mold and mildew will ruin it, but you and the other people in the home will not respect the things that are dirty.
6. Give away the stuff you don’t need. If you haven’t worn that sweater in two years, chances are you won’t. Give it away. There are great charitable thrift stores in virtually every city in America. Periodically purge your closets, basement and garage to ensure that you aren’t accumulating things that you don’t need and use. Having unused “junk” laying around the house will create an atmosphere that disrespects and cheapens your belongings.