Money

How Free Things Can Make You Spend Money

During the holidays, I took advantage of some sales by buying my son some clothing. He was outgrowing his clothes so I was preparing for the next size up. A couple of weeks later, my younger sister gave me her 5 yr old son’s old clothes. It was a lot of clothes up to 3 yr old size. I couldn’t return the clothes I have previously bought because I had already washed them.

As a result of getting the hand me downs, we were inspired to organize the closet in our son’s room. It was still filled with various items that did not belong to him. We decided to fix it up. We bought a closet organizer. The closet looks great after. We are happy with the outcome and feel grateful for the hand me downs. If we were to buy that much amount of clothes, it would surely cost several hundreds easily if bought new. However, the extra expense was not planned for the month.

Sometimes, well intended efforts can lead you to spend money. Unintended expenses can break a budget. Worse yet, it may tempt you to borrow money if you fall prey to instant gratification. I read an example of this behavior in the book The Millionaire Next Door where a well intended rich parent gave her daughter an expensive rug for her house. The daughter and her husband replaced and upgraded the furnitures in their house to match the rug. The gesture from the Mom caused an unplanned expense. One that the daughter’s family would have not incurred had it not been for the rug.

It’s easy to reason to take an extra expense when there is a free component. Our tendency is to think that money is already saved so the extra expense is still a good value. This is not always the case. Here are things to consider when tempted to spend money in this type of situation:

1. Assess the need for the additional expense- do you really need it?
2. Find an alternative way to spending money- in both examples here, redesigning what’s already available would have been an option.
3. Have extra money to account for this type of events

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