This guest post is from Jacob McMillen. He likes to write about topics for men and teach people how using Save1 Eastbay coupons can help feed starving children around the world.
More often than not, the best way to save a dollar is to not spend it in the first place. There is no shortage of tips, tricks and methods available for saving $5 here and 35¢ there. Doing a quick web search for “saving money” will overwhelm you with far more content than you could ever hope to read.
I've found, however, that sometimes the best way to save money is actually to spend it. Obviously, I'm referring to investment, but probably not in the same way you've considered investment before. The goal here is not to make money, it's to save money. And I'm not thinking long-term; I'm still thinking of short-term savings in this approach. I've found that I can actually spend money right now in order to save a good deal of money tomorrow, over the next week or even throughout the next year. How is this possible?
The key for this approach is the ability to identify trends in your own spending habits. If you can plot out future expenses, you can often identify preventive measures that might require you to spend money today, but will save you a far greater amount of cash in the immediate future. Tracking your spending habits and using a budget are essential parts of bolstering your finances and provide a baseline for sustainable wealth increase. If you've never used a budget, start today.
A simple pair of shoes
For me, it all started with a pair of bowling shoes. I really liked bowling, but it was one of those activities I only enjoyed on occasion. One day, I had the urge to start bowling more often. I decided to see how much it would cost to just go in and play two or three games by myself on any given day. I quickly discovered why bowling had always been an occasional activity for me: it cost way more money than I was willing to spend on 45 minutes of fun. The problem was the shoes. Every time I wanted to bowl, I had to pay $5 to rent shoes. It didn't matter if I only planned on playing a single game: $5 went down the drain every time I stepped in that alley.
I wanted to bowl, but I didn't want to pay the $5 every time I bowled. After a moment or two of consideration, I thought, “Hey, why don't I just buy some crappy, old bowling shoes for cheap, and I'll never have to pay the rental fees again?” While my size 15 feet made it difficult to find any “crappy, old shoes” lying about, I did manage to find and purchase a pair of new bowling shoes for $30 on eBay. I figured that as long as I visited the bowling lane a minimum of six times, I would completely recover my initial cost. Additionally, any further trips would save me $5 per visit. Since that time, I have bowled around 30 times, bringing my total savings to $120.
Of course, the argument could be made that I would not have visited the bowling alley quite so many times if I had not purchased those shoes, eliminating the benefit of my savings as it relates to the net effect of bowling on my total finances. While this might be true, I would counter that recreational activities are a part of life and a primary goal of wealth acquisition. I would have spent those dollars on an enjoyable experience of some nature, so the savings are indeed relevant.
A shift in perspective
The point, of course, is not about bowling, but rather, a mind-set that does not limit savings to the refusal to spend a dollar. After the incident with the shoes, I decided I was paying too much on insurance and gas, so I sold my Jeep and bought a motorcycle. I lost $300 up front, but my insurance costs went from $1,200 a year to $400, and my gas expenses were cut in half. I may or may not have paid for this decision with a few massive scars, but that's a different story for another time.
This mind-set translates to every area of life. It can be as simple as buying a tray of muffins at the grocery store to avoid double at Starbucks every morning. It could be purchasing a brand-name pair of shoes that will last you several years instead of skimping for something you'll replace in a month. It could be as extreme as taking a risk to purchase a home instead of renting.
Always think ahead. You should definitely spend less where appropriate, but remember that sometimes it takes a little money down to save a lot of money down the road.