Time is our most valuable resource. Money is also a valuable resource. In fact, if we need or want more money and we have time, we can make more money. Yet we sometimes act as if we will live forever, and waste both time and money. I have good examples of both this week.
I decided to clean out my kitchen pantry and ended up throwing away many things that were too much out of date to feel comfortable using them. I am not rigid about “best by” dates, but when things are months out of date, (and in some cases, years!) I toss them. I now have the neatest pantry I think I have ever had! And I know what I have, for I can see the items, and I wasn’t able to when things were crammed in. It feels very cathartic to have a clean and organized pantry. I am bothered, however, about the money I wasted on items I had purchased and not used. Those who know me know that I hate waste and that I freeze small portions of food instead of throwing them away. I also use most of what I have frozen, so it isn’t wasted.
Earlier today I thought I would go out and do a little shopping. For what, you might wonder? Well, for nothing in particular, but just because I was bored! Thankfully I changed my mind, since there was nothing that I needed to buy. And what about need? Need is indeed different than want. While I do know the difference in needs and wants, sometimes I act on wants when I should be acting on needs. For whatever reason, today I was able to resist that.
Today, I recognized that I was bored, and decided to do some straightening up in my closet. There I came face to face with more wasted money, items that I had bought that I have not really used. Clothes that were not a good purchase when I think of the per usage cost. Too many shoes and too many purses. Shoes that I have not worn for years, and therefore likely will not wear, yet fail to give to someone who might need them. I was glad that I had not purchased more shoes when I was shopping with a friend this weekend. I found several pairs of shoes that I liked, that were a good price and almost bought until I realized that I have more shoes than I wear now. I did not need any more shoes, and I did not buy them.
I am reminded of 2006, the year that I did not buy anything for myself or our home the entire year. (Other than a few necessities that I replaced when used.) With Hurricane Katrina my stimulus, I decided that I had a spending addiction, and decided to take a year off from spending. I journaled the journey, and my lessons from that year can be found in my book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic.
My year of no spending changed me in two key areas. One, I am no longer (usually, at least) an impulsive buyer. When I want to make a purchase, I often wait to make the purchase, and often the urge to purchase the item passes. The second area of change is what this article is about, wasting money. While I am more conscious of ways not to waste money, and have made some progress in this area, this is still an area of growth for me. Throwing out food and having shoes and clothes that I do not wear are examples of this.
Most of us have too much, especially in the United States, and do not even know what we have. Yet we too often buy more and fail to even use what we have. We continue to waste time and money.
Back to wasting time for a moment. What can we do today to focus on what is most important to us? Before another summer passes. Before another year passes. 2022 is almost half over. When we get to the end of this year, what will we have to show for it?
Perhaps we can make some decisions in June that will help us focus on those things that we say are most important to us. So when December 31, 2022, arrives, we can look back on 2022 and know that another year was not wasted.
Time, our most valuable resource, is finite. Let’s live like we know that.