My wife and I were walking towards the Eaton Centre to meet up with some friends, and we passed by Best Buy. They had just finished renovating so I wanted to check it out. For the last little while, I've been "in the market" but not really "in the market" for a memory card, external hard drive, sound bar, and a bread toaster. But we walked out empty handed as usual.
It's all thanks to one of my best Jedi mind tricks. It actually works best against myself. It goes something like this:
Inner Jon: You don't need that toaster, You've lived up to now without it. You hardly eat bread anyways. (waving hand)
Outer Jon: I don't need that toaster, I've lived up to now without it. I hardly eat bread anyways. (proceed to walk out the door)
It's A Game Of Inches
If you have every watch professional sports, you would know that there is a fine line between those that win and those that lose. In tennis, it could be a couple of points that decide the winner of a set and eventually the match. There are times when a player is just 1 or 2 points from winning the match but ends up losing it. This happens all the time. In hockey and soccer, games are won or lost by a single goal in more instances than any other score differential.
But what does this have to do with window shopping?
The same concept of fine margins holds true for window shopping as it does for sports. The difference between me buying a toaster or not buying a toaster is my ability to continually use my Jedi mind trick to influence myself into not needing it. Every time my powers of influence fail me I end up buying a toaster. If I am successful 8 out of 10 times, instead of 9 out of 10 times, then I end up with twice as many toasters and much less savings.
Guess How Long It Took For Us To Buy A Vitamix?
Trick question. For the last 3, maybe 4 years, we've been thoroughly convinced by our friends, The Bay advertisings, Costco advertisings, and YouTube, that Vitamix is the best thing since sliced bread and hot showers. But until this Spring we had been successful in convincing ourselves we didn't need it. We had been perfectly happy with our little single serve Magic Bullet, which still works after 4 years and only cost $35.
So the truth is, we never bought a Vitamix, but the closest thing to buying it was redeeming Aeroplan reward points for it. We ended up spending 70,000 points, enough for almost 3 round trips to Vancouver from Toronto. We resisted the urge for nearly 4 years and lived a perfectly satisfying life without it for 4 years. We didn't spend any cash money for it, but gave up the equivalent of maybe $1000+ in flight redemptions. In the end, it's no doubt a great appliance, but not sure I would dish out the cash if I didn't have the points.
What's The Longest You Have Delayed Gratification?
Getting to retirement is a practice in delayed gratification. Most people work 35-45 years before they retire. That's about 10 times longer than I waited to get my Vitamix. That's longer than I have been alive.
I'm a very patient person especially when it comes to buying things. It certainly helps my money work for me longer. It lets my investments continue to pay me dividends and interest for months or years longer than they would otherwise if I just spent the money.
But when it comes to retirement I'm impatient. I don't want to wait. I believe in the theory that "life is short". I believe that "I shouldn't waste my life doing things that don't make me happy". I want me and my wife to comfortably Retire Early from the day to day lifestyle that some call the "rat race".
Fortunately being patient with spending and impatient with getting to retirement (saving) are supportive actions. Spending Less = Saving More = Early Retirement
Make Spending Feel Like A Chore
For me, thinking about saving has become a habit. An excessive habit some would say. It takes no willpower because it has become so familiar, so normal, so natural, that spending money actually feels like a chore.
Try it this week. Starting Tomorrow.
Whenever you get the urge to open up Amazon or see flyers in the mail or go window shopping, tell your inner self that:
"You don't need that toaster, You've lived up to now without it. You hardly eat bread anyways."
See how many times you can stop yourself from spending when you really want to save.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.