Tuesday, April 24, 2012

YMOYL Book Club: Minimizing Spending (Step 6)

This is week six of the Your Money or Your Life Online Book Club, where we are tackling the nine steps of the YMOYL program. Get more background info. and a complete list of the steps here. 

There's currently a lull between blooms in my garden.
Only the ixiolirion pallasii are in bloom now. 

Step 6: Valuing Your Life Energy: Minimizing Spending

Step six is something that it sounds like the participants of this book club have already been working on, and some have them down to a science. This step advises us to lower monthly expenses by valuing life energy and increasing consciousness in spending. Choose quality of life over standard of living.

Chapter six is filled with advice on using your life energy wisely. Again, the included tips are probably old news to anyone reading this blog, but even so it's always good to read a reminder, right?

Ways to Save Money

  1. Don't go shopping
  2. Live within your means
  3. Take care of what you have
  4. Wear it out
  5. Do it yourself
  6. Anticipate your needs
  7. Research value, quality, durability, multiple use and price
  8. Buy it for less
  9. Meet your needs differently
  10. Follow the nine steps of the YMOYL program
Both the Financial Integrity Guide and YMOYL have more tips, but this one in the guide is worth repeating: "Do NOT approach this like a diet, depriving yourself of what brings you joy or satisfaction." Wise words, although I would add that it's worth it to try something new first. Often I find that things I thought I wasn't willing to live without at first, weren't such a big deal once I broke the old habit.

Do you learn any new tips in this chapter? Have any of your own to add?


  1. I don't have any of my own to add, but I am trying a few new ones:

    1. Don't go shopping - When I'm bored and want to get out of the house, the only things in easy walking distance are shops and a library. I'm going to try to focus on cleaning, maintaining, or fixing something I already have instead of going out in these situations. Running a soapy rag across my car (and re-applying the Rain-X) gets me out of the house just as well as walking over to Target or the thrift store. I really like the idea of shopping only for things you already know you want instead of just browsing, though I'm pretty good at not making impulse purchases that I regret later.

    2. Take care of what I have - I don't know how to do this very well. I'll be using owner's manuals and the internet to help me.

    3. Do it yourself - I want to learn how to do more things myself. I've been starting with more recipes (like making my own chocolate syrup with shade-grown [organic] cocoa powder) and mending textiles (especially socks and pockets with holes in them, a good activity while watching TV). I just waxed my car for the first time this weekend. (Sad, but true.)

    4. Research value, quality, durability and multiple use - I'm not so great at this either. I recently replaced my cordless phones that had stopped working well because the batteries were old. My new phones turn out to have standard easy-to-replace batteries. Score!! But who knew such a thing even existed? I was shopping for good sound quality, reliability, at least three handsets, and ideally no answering machine, and just lucked out. I had even looked up consumer reviews of cordless phones, but did not notice information on batteries. Later research showed my that my old batteries were easily replaceable, too. Doh!

    5. 1,001 sure ways to save money--evaluating my purchases. I like the idea of focusing on trying to learn better ways to fulfill the objectives that I am actually currently fulfilling with purchases. I'm not very good at this at all though. Mostly I look at my purchases and think, "Yes, I'm glad I bought that."

    In general, I'm just trying to expand my knowledge of what all my alternatives are for fulfilling my goals so that I can make better choices.

    1. Chuckling to myself about waxing the car. My car is 22 years old, and it's never even been washed!

    2. My car has definitely been washed before. But then I bought it used, so I know the dealer washed it.

      I think I have washed a car before. I definitely helped as a kid. But I'm not totally sure I've washed my own car before. And I've owned cars for 24 years, so that's really sad.

  2. Well... let's see here. I fear I have gotten totally out of whack with the chapters. This is probably because I did't have a copy of the actual book for this little exercise. So forgive me if my comments have jumped around a bit.

    Anyhow... a few things came to mind as I read over the synopsis for this chapter.

    One was something I actually read in a different book on simple living. It's a subtle mental shift. Instead of asking "What can I buy to do xyz thing?" ask "How can I solve xyz problem?" I think that as a society, we are programmed from a very early age to think that solving a problem means buying something, or hiring someone, or somehow spending money. But so often it's just a matter of thinking outside the box.

    The other thing that made a huge difference for me was dealing with my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out.) FOMO is similar to the whole "keeping up with the Jonses" thing... but it's much more subtle. It's the nagging fear that "everybody else" is experiencing some wonderful thing... and if you're not careful you'll be filled with regret for missing it. And the giant marketing machine exploits FOMO at every turn!

    This sort of fear used to compel me to do all sorts of things that I really didn't want to do... just because "everybody else" was doing it. I mean things like going out with "the gang" or having xyz service or item or home, or even having an "important" job. It took me years to realize that "everybody else" was just acting out the same sort of stuff that I was, and none of it really made them happy. The funny part is that I really WAS missing out on something... I was missing out on the opportunity to spend quiet time at home with CatMan, and to not be so stressed etc.

    The final thought I had was that SOOOO much money can be saved if you're simply willing to "live in the past" a bit. I think about my life as a child in the 1970's... no internet, no VCR, no answering machine, no cell phone, no microwave, etc, etc, etc. And life wasn't miserable then... in fact in many ways it was vastly superior to the way things are now. But "living in the past" doesn't have to mean becoming a Luddite, you can simply wait for movies to arrive on Netflix rather than going to the theater as soon as they come out. You can buy used cars rather than new, and refrain from the "latest greatest" in all things. I sometimes have fun asking myself "What would Grandma do?"

    I guess I'm sort of painting with a broad brush here, but those are the "big picture" ways that I minimized my spending.

  3. Living the dream on a shoe string is a life style I (think) I love. At the moment I have the safety of having a regular healthy income so it doesn’t feel 100% real. However I do know that I am healthier, happier, more relaxed and fulfilled when living a slower more down to earth life style and am closer to nature and natural rhythms. I am much more comfortable with big picture ideas but really need to tighten up on the smaller details in my life particularly finances. I think we have done all right by living within our means but we have also lost opportunities to save and make do at times and I’m determined now to save enough to jump out of working for the man to manage on my own. I am stumbling along with the program still and have successfully tracked my spending for this month to date and have been shocked by how much I spend on groceries and craft materials. Compared to my friends and colleagues its low but definitely more money that I thought or have budgeted for so I need to reduce this. I have also worked out my income from savings and am very impressed! : ) I hope I have worked it our right (they are in itzy bitzy term deposits ranging from 5.8% to 6.00% interest over different periods)- I’m making $214 aus dollars a month!!! Forcing myself to break a life time habit of a broad stroke approach to money is definitely helping me see the areas I could concentrate on pruning. I’m converting to life hours but finding this doest really work for me as I’m not a numbers person and they just don’t make an impact on me. I have also addressed a weekly habit of taking daughter and grandchildren out for lunch. Something I started as a way of giving us all a break when first grandchild arrived a couple years ago and is usually the only time I eat out other than work do’s or naughty occasional take away food or more often coffee & cake (which is less now honest). I have been putting effort into making nice picnic food and we have gone and sat in a park the last few weeks. It has been really lovely, healthier far less expensive and more relaxed for the children. I have started a blog as a journal for tracking my life style changes- being more self reliant and learning to do it myself is what I am trying to achieve (if anyone knows how to allow comment on a blog I would be grateful. I’m thick at IT : ( I am with blogger. There is a comments section and a friend tried to leave comment and apparently it just said it was illegal characters?).
    Like Deb & Ecocat asking how I can do this differently or in another way is one of the questions I ask myself. I also ask myself do I really need it, can I get it for free.

    I could read about frugal living all day so loved this chapter and wished it was longer and more Australian specific. I don’t want to just read and dream though and being self disciplined to maintain a frugal lifestyle when there are so many temptations I can find challenging. I know I’m rambling and not making much sense so will just shut up! Lots to say and lots of thoughts running around my head but no time to sit down and reflect and process coherently! Thanks for listening: ) Ruth in WA x

  4. The big thing for me was meeting my needs differently. I wrote about it on my blog, but basically it was eye-opening to think more about Why I love travel and spas, and trying to be creative about finding other ways to fulfill that need w/o incurring the cost. This is a big mental shift for me.

    I'm also working on taking care of things that I already own (esp. clothes and shoes). I really want to get away from our disposable culture, but this is a tough one as I'm not crafty or handy, and have limited time.


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