Buying Shiny New Things Without The Guilt
Around four months ago, I declared I wanted to buy a new computer without spending a cent.
Sure, the title was meant to be catchy and a little playful (were you not entertained?), but I had an actual system behind the hype. The idea was to save up all of my alternative income and use that money to save for a new computer. I wouldn't use any money from my paycheck or my savings. (See also: 5 Money Making Activities You Can Do Today)
In other words, I'd pay for the new computer with money I'd never miss.
The other rule I set for myself is that I wouldn't pull the trigger until I had enough money banked — no itchy trigger for me here. I had to wait until the money was there.
Setting this goal for myself was great because it gave me a purpose. I started selling a bunch of my old books knowing that all that money would be going towards my new PC. Every time I wrote a new post on my blog, I knew the income I made from the site would go into my computer fund.
Setting a goal gave me something to work toward instead of just saving for the sake of saving, which was great.
What's This About Guilt?
I'm guessing other Wise Bread readers share this affliction with me: ponying up large amounts of money to buy stuff isn't easy. Parting with money is super tough for frugal people like ourselves, so whenever I have to (or want to) make a big purchase, I get very uneasy.
I feel guilty for spending my hard-earned money. Shouldn't I be investing it? Saving it? Doing anything but spending it?
Sure, but we also have to live our lives, and that's what money is for, right? To help us get what we want? To enjoy it?
Easier said than done, and this budgeting trick has helped me overcome the guilt.
NMG: No More Guilt
When I got close to my goal, I told my wife that maybe it was all a bad idea. Maybe I didn't really need a new machine and that I could probably cope with my five-year-old laptop for another couple years.
The guilt had crept into my foolproof system.
But she was having none of it. She wouldn't let me. After all the hard work I had been putting in toward boosting my alternative income selling books and blogging, she said I HAD to buy the new computer. That was the plan and that was the purpose.
So I did.
And guess what? It feels awesome.
My new machine should be here by the end of the week and I haven't felt guilty at all. Our budget is on track, our savings are on track—it's like I never spend the money.
And the best part is that now I have a system in place whenever I get the itch to buy something else. Until then, I'll go back to being the responsible, frugal (some would say boring), person I am: the side money I make will go into my high-yield savings account, where I'll let it accumulate.
I won't be buying anything else anytime soon...I'll be too busy toying around with my brand-spanking new computer.