Is It Valuable to Me?

RangerSir and I would like  to retire sooner than the system is rigged to allow.   With that goal in mind one must be a saver and frugal as well.    That said we  are like everyone else and like to spend money.  This should be a built in daily struggle, but most of the time it isn’t for us, because we ask “Is it valuable to me?”

Long ago when I worked in the corporate fast lane I attended a week-long  seminar about women in business and leadership positions.   It was a great seminar because at that time women in management were few and far between.   There were not women to emulate and the rules were still being written for women.   One of the topics they talked about was corporate dress of women leaders.   The leader talked about how men bought a few  good suits had them tailored and wore them over and over.    She said that women did not do the same. We tended not have our clothes tailored and bought many more clothes and wore some of then just a few times. We were  not trained to look for classic well fitting clothes.    A man’s suit could cost hundreds of dollars, lets say $500.   If the man wore it once it cost $500.   If he wore it once a week, then it cost him $10 a wear.   If he wore it a second year it cost him $5 a wear.  Then she translated it into the hours you worked if you made $25 an hour you had to work 20 hours for that suit.      That meant after wearing the suit four days you were in clear.   It mean in year two you should probably be sending the manufacture money each time you wore the suit as it had more than paid for itself.   On the other hand if you had a green Saint Patrick’s day sport coat that you paid $100 for that you only wore once a year.   It would not have paid for itself until year four.    That idea of translating things in to work hours to determine value became a measurement stick that would stick with me for years.

One of our favorite things to do is eat out, but we seldom do it because we often ask ourselves is that dining experience worth working three or four hours to have.   Is the food that good?   Is the service and ambiance worth it?   Sometimes the answer is yes, but if we think the food is just so-so then we skip it.   I love to be creative.   I ask myself before I buy something is this one use or can I use it multiple ways.   If it is just once odds are it stays on the store shelf.   If I can see three ways it is getting close to my cart,  if I can see six it is likely in my cart.

This whole post is inspired by a blog I follow where the writer talked about how much a $15 monthly bank charge came to a year, $170.   $15 a month doesn’t sound like that much but if you look at it as groceries for a week, or the fact that one hour each month you work just to pay the bank for your checking account it sounds outrageous.    So think about what you make in an hour and the next time you want to go grab a quick lunch from work think about how long you had to work for that lunch.   It may be right for you that day, but do you want to work 30 minutes of every day to pay for your lunch, that is 2.5 hours a week and 10 hours a month….working more than one day just to eat out.   Would your rather spend what you earned working those eight hours  on a new shirt, a new sketch pad, a movie, a book, or saving for a vacation  make you happier?   I don’t know for your circumstances or interests.     For each of us it is different.   I am sure that if each of us ask ourselves “Is this valuable to me?” before we spent we might spend our discretionary income differently and likely be more happy with how we spend it.

Want vs Need

I redid my kitchen last year because my cupboards were falling apart.  Since that time I wanted a new refrigerator.   I have convinced myself that it is a necessity.   My existing one is very small, by today’s standards it would be in an efficiency apartment, not in the family home.     I can list all the reasons I think I need to replace it.   I have been shopping online and in the stores.  I have figured out what features I want; those I can live and can live without.   I know what options I can get and those I must compromise on.

I was nearly ready to make that purchase.   Then there was a reminder that these economic times are uncertain for so many of us.  It reminded me to think carefully when purchasing wants.   I am not suggesting we should not make discretionary expense purchases.  What I am saying is think carefully before spending money you don’t have to spend.

I have thought about what is upcoming that we need to spend money on that is non-negotiable.   I have thought about other things that may fall into discretionary spending I might want in the upcoming months.   I blogged about it here with you all, as I worked this through.   I knew when I started this blog what the outcome was, but my desire by writing about this all is to put this wish to sleep for awhile.   I will be getting a new refrigerator, but I will be put that decision back on hold until next year at this time.

Thanks for your patience with me as I worked my way through this.   May it provide you with inspiration when you have to pick and choose what you will do now and what you will defer until later.