My mother was a freaking saint. Not only did she hold down the fort solo-dolo after my parents’ divorce and raise my sister and I when shit hit the fan, she was also incredibly smart, resilient, and empowering. That woman could also stretch a dollar farther than Michael Jordan stretched his arm in Space Jam. While her Jamaican-ness certainly contributed to her money saving mentality, she instilled a little bit of a cheap gene in me as well.
I guess I have a bit of a confession to make… I’m not all that broke. I’m just cheap. I’m not cheap because I’m a cheapskate though (she kind of was now that I’m musing about my childhood, but alas). I’m cheap because I am stubbornly frugal and choose to spend my money on things that will benefit me in the long run, while results in me saving a LOT. The one thing my mom taught me with money is the difference between “wanting” something and “needing” something, and that’s how you end up looking at your bank account like the heart-eye emoji, and how you end up hearing the Sunday Service Choir each time you check your account balance. Halleluyerrr.
We all want things, it’s a basic part of being human. We want the latest iPhone, we want new clothes and shoes, we want what other people have. It’s just how we’re wired, and especially with the advent of social media, the “want” lifestyle has entirely taken over. However, especially in these times, needing to pay your rent, needing prescriptions for anything you may be battling, needing water and food, is far more important than yet another pair of shoes.
Do I splurge or impulse buy things? Every so often, and I instantly feel bad about it because of the way I was raised. We were lower-middle class at best, and not poor by any means. But when you’re in a survival mode mindset growing up, it’s a little hard to shake, and I’m vehemently trying each day to instill within myself that it’s not a bad thing to buy something that you want… you just cannot make it a habit, and you have to be smart.
Here are some helpful tips on how to differentiate wanting and needing something
-Actually write down and separate what you want from what you need: Physically put the needs above the wants on this list, which can be written right into the Notes section of your phone. Currently, I “need” new clothes and a new razor, and I don’t “want” anything. Needs can be wants at times, and it’s generally easy to tell when it’s a want or a need. Food is a want and a need, clothing is a want and a need (depending on where you’re getting it from… because designer brands are not a need). Once you can separate the two, you’re golden.
–Ask questions: I make sure to save up on paying for things that I need before spending money on things that I want. Then, when it comes to paying for things that I “want,” I weigh the pros and cons. Am I in a financial position to buy this right now? Will this make me happy? Will this make someone else happy? After seeing if its worth it (and it usually is at least for me, because I know how to save money), then I go ahead and buy, because I’ve gotten rid of my guilt associated with buying something I wanted rather than something I needed. I mostly “want” buy clothing, I plan trips for me and/or my friends (but mostly meeeeee) and then buy plane tickets, Airbnbs and more.
–Sacrifice spending to save: In order to save up enough money to buy something you really, really wanted, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices today. Don’t jump whenever someone says how high: don’t go out every weekend and come up with some cheaper alternatives, or just say no. There’s no time like right now to practice this particular step specifically. Right now, all I’m spending money on is essential toiletries, food, rent and my loans. Luckily, minding my business is free, and I’ve been doing that all along.
–Pay your credit card bill in FULL: This is not a game. You don’t want more issues in the future because you can’t properly save or spend money today. Don’t be dumb.
For me, a lot of my “want” buying is online. I can’t remember the last time I “want” bought anything at a store, because I am not impulsive enough and my guilt complex creeps in at the worst time. However, if I was to “want” buy at a store, I usually make sure I have paper money with me, that way, I’m able to gauge how much I can spend on a want. Say I went to Urban Outfitters and wanted to buy a pair of socks (the cheapest thing in that bitch). If I had $20 in my wallet and wanted those printed socks with the cat faces on them, which happened to be $20, then yep… I’d go ahead and buy the cat socks.
While these are just things that I’ve adopted in my own life, I really hope you can read this and adopt it into your own. I want all my people to win, and it’s way easier to win when you’re financially stable.