I never knew someone could use the word “why” so many times in one day until my son became a toddler…
“Car parked on road why?”
“Guy running why?”
“Dada tired why?”
I could go on…why?
That is when it hit me, ok a toy hit me but you get the idea, Mini Donut was asking the right questions. Why you ask…exactly! … I’ll elaborate.
What your toddler can teach you
You have your budget and you have your financial goals, hopefully, but are you questioning any of it?
When you are in the store and picking up an item to set in the cart are you asking ”why am I buying this?” Does it serve a purpose, will I get use out of it? Are you buying it because you convinced yourself you needed it or even tried to justify putting it in your cart to begin with? Maybe you put it in and you weren’t even sure why.
This is that middle ground between Minimalism and frugality. Keeping only the items that serve a purpose and spending money on the items that matter. The tricky part is determining what items you find are necessary to have in your life. If you do find yourself needing this item just make sure you have budgeted for it first.
Question All the Things!
A great thing to do is ask yourself why the next time you pay that bill. Why am I paying so much for electricity? I could switch to CFL or LED bulbs. Why am I paying $200+ for cable and only watching 4 different channels? I could call and negotiate a better price or see if I can stream the shows I really care to watch. (Cord-cutters of the world unite!) Why am I really buying this item? Is it because I want it or because I think I want it.
Look around your house and start asking those why questions. You may find you could donate a lot to charity and never even miss it. After watching “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” movie on Netflix Ms. Blue Ribbon and myself went room by room clearing out anything that didn’t serve a purpose. (I lost count on how many trips to Goodwill we went on). This process not only cleared out a lot of space in our house but also made us realize you don’t miss what you aren’t using. Although it isn’t what you have in your home, but what you bring in it.
Nobody is Perfect
There will be times where you will think back on past purchases and wish you would have asked why. Adults like to think they are so smart but they really aren’t. It wasn’t smart when Ms. Blue Ribbon and I bought a brand new car (that’s why when we replaced mine we bought used). We were stupid when we picked up a home equity loan to buy solar panels (we can’t return those so have to look on the bright side ?). If only we had asked enough why questions. Kids have a big advantage by not knowing so they can make unbiased decisions (unless it involves sugar).
Planning Ahead to Buy Less
How do we keep ourselves in check? I don’t want to go to the store and stare at a box of Cheerios contemplating the impact on my life, happiness and budget (I already talk to myself sometimes. I don’t want to look crazier). No, how it works for us is on Saturday Ms. Blue Ribbon and I plan our meals for the next week including which days we will make food and which days we will have leftovers. From there we compile a list of ingredients we need and any other house-related items, then when we get to the store it is heads down buy the list. You will find using this method you buy impulsively far less. We have also noticed that we tend to buy less when it is only one of us doing the shopping. This tends to lower the temptation of buying unnecessary items at least for our family it does. It also means the shopping is done quicker because our focus is on purchasing items solely found on our shopping list.
Groceries are one thing but what about all the rest? That’s when you do have to contemplate “the answer to life, the universe, and everything.”
Are there any purchases that you have had where you wished you would have asked yourself why? Do you have any process in place to build the “why” in?