Recently, while visiting with a friend of mine, she told me how her husband had won some money at the racetrack. Now, this isn’t a guy with a gambling problem or anything. In fact, he was actually entertaining clients there, he put down a couple of bucks on a pony and won a couple hundred dollars. “Wow, that’s great”, I said. She thought so too. Her husband came home and gave his wife two crisp hundred dollar bills and insisted she use it to “splurge” a little and just buy something for herself. Nice guy. She wanted my help in deciding what to spend this “found money” on. I was polite, but I don’t think I provided the assistance she was looking for.
This story is a small illustration of the lifestyle inflation that permeates our society. For most people, as their income increases so does their consumption. This is why we so often hear things like “I just can’t seem to get ahead” or “No matter how much I make, I can’t seem to save any money”. We are programmed to always be looking to get that bigger house, or that newer car, or finally take those family ski vacations (we deserve it!). We are programmed to strive for the status symbols that all boils down to “keeping up with the Joneses”. The problem with this is there is always something else to reach for and we are constantly reminded of it due to the lifestyles of the rich and famous streaming through our cable TV.
If you are able to resist the urge to spend the increases in your income that come your way, you will be able to save more of your money towards the goals that are important to you. Maybe you’d rather work less and have more of your time available to do what interests you or to spend time with loved ones. If you always spend that extra income on the latest shiny new Snazz-L-Zoo (the new ones have that cool Swirl-A-Mahoo!) then you are missing out on the opportunity to have your money start working for you.
Pre-programmed lifestyle inflation is what prompted my friend to ask me what she should spend her “found money” on. For me, found money is:
- paying $10 a month for a cell phone rather than $100 or more
- having Netflix for $8 a month rather than paying $100 a month for cable
- paying $5 a month for a landline phone instead of $50
- numerous other ways I simpliduce monthly expenses.
The best part is that this is extra money in my pocket that I keep “finding” month after month. And it will only continue to shore up my Green Money Stream, promoting smooth sailing ahead.
What is your philosophy on “found money”? Is it an opportunity to splurge or something to be set aside for loftier goals?