By Josh Del Pino
Show me the money! Well, you have a great job and a great salary with benefits. What do you want to do? Buy, buy, buy, like there’s no tomorrow? You could do that and then live off of Cup O’ Noodles for the last week before payday. Or you could hoard your money and re-create your own Demi Moore on a bed of money scene like in Indecent Proposal. Or you can do something a little different. Here are some things to consider when you get your monthly paycheck.
1. Everything in moderation. I like restaurants because I don’t have to cook, wash dishes, and often the food tastes better than my own cooking. However the cost of meals adds up. Real fast. Once a week? Twice a month? What works for you? If you have a car, you can make it a routine to use your car for only the schools that are far away and choose to walk or bike to schools and stores near your home. What’s my hobby, you ask? My hobby is taking pictures. I would love to buy a brand new Cannon 1DX camera, and I could buy it, but it would set me back about 8,000 US dollars. So instead I’ll buy a used one and much cheaper lens. Japanese consumers are just too awesome at saving money! And many of us are just too awesome at spending money! Both extremes have negative consequences. Buyer beware!
2. GOOOOOAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL! Not that kind of goal, but set goals for saving and goals for spending. That’s right. All work and no play leads to… something grumpy. If you have student loans, make a goal to pay them off or a percentage of them while in Japan. If you want to buy a new jacket or travel to a new country, start setting aside money for it months in advance. And it’s OK to reward yourself after you accomplish a goal.
3. MTV Cribs meets the Green Movement. If you weatherproof your home, unplug appliances when you are asleep or away, and buy used items, you’ll save a lot of money in just one year. And it’s worth an investment to get energy efficient LED lights. How do I know? I keep records.
Personally, I have been successful in saving money (actually paying off student loans) by cooking at home, being a strategic shopper, riding a bike (thus not spending money on fuel or insurance) and being conscientious of energy consumption at home. If you are curious as to the details, I can share with you how over a conversation and a nice glass of free tap water. I have made sacrifices and I hope to be debt free soon. As some people from my country like to say, “freedom isn’t free.”
Bottom line is, if you aren’t part of the 1%, if you aren’t royalty, and if you’re not a Kennedy or a Gates or a Rockefeller, then try asking yourself these three questions before your next purchase: Can I find a product of equal quality for less? Will this be on sale in the future? Is this a need or is this a want?
Cha-ching! And Cheers!