It is extremely hard to calculate how much money you save by not buying something. That is probably why it is so often that we don’t notice it’s effect on our wallets. It is so much easier to remember that you saved $5 on a $50 dollar sweater that was 10% off than to remember that you saved $50 by no buying it in the first place.
Of course you can also go wild calculating how many things you could have bought and didn’t. Kudos to me for not buying that book shelf I wanted or that car I was considering. I’m sure you could find a hundred thousand dollars worth of stuff that you want that you haven’t bought. I sure can.
Often financial advisors tell us not to buy stuff, but the action of not buying is inherently abstract. So I’ve come up with a small exercise to make the idea more concrete. When I’m at home I will really look at the things that I own, and then making a list of all the things that I won’t replace when they wear out. These are things that either I won’t miss since I rarely use or perform a function that could be done by something else. While I could sell some of these things they have very low resale value and quite honestly aren’t worth the effort it would take to sell them.
-My kettle – It was a need-to-have in my university dorm, but I rarely use it now and I can just as easily heat water in a pan.
-My nick-nacks – Read my musing here.
-About half of my kitchen utensils – I have a good number of duplicates. I only really need one set of measuring cups, one ladle, one lifter . . .
-My microwave – I’m still musing about this one since it is pretty new still, but I’m thinking most things that I put in it can be done in the microwave oven or on the stovetop.
-Desks – I own three, I really only need one.
I’m sure as I continue to go along this list will keep growing. Paying attention to what I don’t use often, or that can be replaced by another object I own prevents me from running out to replace something when it starts to wear out. Try it. The excess of stuff that you’ve got in your life might just surprise you.