I first heard about Pete Adeney (AKA Mr. Money Mustache), about a year ago, and as with most things that come across as gimmicky, I stayed away. The name alone is absurd, and many of his ideas are presented in a way that are meant to be shocking—living on $25,000 per year, almost exclusively commuting by bike, promoting communal living, etc.
But after listening to an interview with him on the Tim Ferriss Show, I realized that Adeney has an extremely analytical mind and provides some very practical advice. I am not wholesale advocating his cult-like following, but I really liked learning about the process he goes through in decisions to spend money:
It’s the one time procrastination is a good thing. When you are contemplating a purchase, procrastination buys time to talk yourself out of it. Shiny new things often lose their luster before you even buy them. Technology and styles change so much that you may have moved on to the new, new thing, or you just realize that you didn’t want it that badly in the first place.
That’s why Amazon has one-click purchasing—sure it’s convenient, but it also eliminates those extra fifteen seconds you have to change your mind when it’s queued up in the cart. You see that shipping costs a little more than you thought it would and remember you actually bought something similar last week, then without another thought, you hit ‘Cancel.’
Where will it go and what if it breaks?
When you buy something, it physically comes into your life. It’s not just there when you want it—it’s always somewhere in your house, car, or office. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of something without fleshing out the details, so make sure you have space and are willing to give up that space for a purchase.
Secondarily, are you willing to deal with this purchase if and when it breaks? Will you stay on the phone with customer service, take it to the shop, or pay for replacement parts? Some things just aren’t worth the trouble, so it’s better to never spend the money than have a broken toy that you can’t play with.
Is this removing a negative?
Studies have shown that we gain more “happiness” from removing a negative than we do from creating a positive. So placing greater weight on purchases that eliminate an inconvenience will maximize the happiness money can bring. That sounds counterintuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense.
For example, if you cannot find anything in your closet or garage, you will probably gain more happiness from spending the time and money to organize it with new shelves and storage containers than you would buying new clothes or tools. Organizing relieves stress and anxiety from being unable to find the things you already own, which is a greater value than just more stuff.
Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at josh@LeFleurFinancial.com.