The following is a guest post by Penny of shepicksuppennies.com. Penny is a full-time teacher who is on a journey to be more mindful of her spending and to live a more purposeful life. She hopes others will join her. Besides her blog, you can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
My purposeful spending journey started with a closet. If your mind immediately flashed to Cher Horowitz or Carrie Bradshaw, I’ve got two things to say: First, we should probably be friends, and secondly, sorry to disappoint, but I’m actually talking about my linen closet. That’s right. The catalyst that caused me to rethink the direction of my life is a 3’x10’ space that houses our sheets. And the thread count probably isn’t any higher than room temperature. They’re not special sheets.
My husband and I had been married and living in our current residence for about two months when I opened the linen closet and an avalanche occurred. That was the breaking point. It wasn’t that I would have to refold the fitted sheets.* It was the fact that I had been living in a place for two months, and every cabinet, drawer, and closet was bursting at the seams. Maybe this surfeit wouldn’t have been so unfathomable if we were living in a 500-square-foot studio apartment high above a bustling city street, but we live in a three-bedroom, two-floor home. In the suburbs. With a garage. And a basement. We weren’t pressed for space; we simply had too much stuff.
But we were living exactly right, at least according to conventional wisdom. Skip Starbucks? We did that. Clip coupons? You bet. Our taxes were not in escrow, our bills were paid in full every month, and our home was being remodeled one bit at a time with us my husband doing most of the work. We had full-time jobs with pensions, for goodness’ sake. Ten percent of both of our pre-tax salaries was automatically diverted into our retirement funds (see aforementioned pensions), and we still put some extra money in a separate savings account every month when we got paid. But for two people in their twenties with no major debt other than a mortgage, the growth of our savings account was seriously stunted. You see, we were spending our money just as fast as we could make it.
Here’s the problem. Logic dictates don’t spend more than you make. We weren’t. Instead, we would save just a little bit extra each month and then buy all the things. Our spending started with needs and quickly escalated to wants. A bedroom set, a couch, a shed. From there, we snapped up new faucets, fancy mirrors, light fixtures. Then came clothes, purses, shoes. Oh, did I buy the shoes. At one point, I had a side hustle where I earned nearly $1,000 a month tutoring. We spent it all. Every penny went back into our house, with the bulk of it probably landing in my closet.
So you see, my journey into the world of personal finance didn’t start with crippling student loans or mountains of credit card debt. It started with stuff, and way too much of it. Slowly, I’ve embarked on a journey of mindful spending, decluttering, and simplifying. In short, I’ve started to pick up pennies and live a more purposeful life.
*If they existed during his lifetime, I’m certain Dante would have included a circle of hell just for fitted sheets that need folding.