By Brad Beckstrom
What if every time you thought of buying something, you decided to know something instead? You’d probably build up a pretty good “store” of knowledge. You’d constantly be refreshing that knowledge whether you’re in a grocery store, online or shopping for a large purchase. I’ve used this strategy on large and small purchases. Something simple like “that health bar has more calories than 2 whole eggplants.” Now whenever you look at those 240 calorie health bars you’ll think about the equivalent of eating two entire eggplants.
Knowing things can impact larger purchases.
I’ve been putting off replacing our old car. We probably should’ve sold it a year ago but that time has not been wasted. Since then we’ve been learning about:
- Making 30% more by selling a used car on craigslist instead of to a dealer.
- How new cars lose 20% of their value just 6 months after you drive them off the lot.
- You can find some really great cars using an app like Carvana once you know what you’re looking for.
- Whether an electric car or a hybrid car is a better fit for our daily driving.
- All of the benefits of having a car that’s paid for and skipping the commute.
You can even apply this thinking to investments. When you pay high annual fees on your investments, your spending money. Years ago I used to sell off underperforming mutual funds and search for up and comers. I stopped doing this and took a few years to completely revamp my investing strategy. I learned that many funds I had been buying had high fees of around 1% per year. I also came across a study that Fidelity had done about the most successful individual investment accounts. The winners were investors who were dead or had not touched their retirement accounts for years. After some research I decided to buy and hold ultra low-cost index funds with fees less than 0.060% and exchange them only when I needed to rebalance my portfolio. This one change has saved me thousands of dollars every year, and will continue as long as I hold these index funds.
Often when I’m interested in something, I decide to research it and by doing that I delay the purchase. I believe that delaying purchases is one of the best ways to cut your spending. Even a delay of one or two days to do a bit more research (learn something) can make you rethink that impulse purchase. I also have a simple rule of not replacing something until it is completely worn out or, in the case of perishables, gone. When you run out of something and stay out of it for a few days sometimes you realize you don’t really need it. If it was really amazing you’ll remember to replace it. (sorry kale snacks)
Here are some tried-and-true ways of knowing things instead of buying things. Read more…