Are you a Spendthrift?

I've met many a spendthrift along the way on my frugal living journey. They can go through more money than any reasonable person should.

There is always something the buy, someone to please, some activity to engage in, or some other "reason" that they have to spend most if not all of their money.

If you find yourself with more month left over at the end of your paycheck, it might just be the time to assess your spending habits and correct some problems.

Let's look at the things that we spend money on. Let's not focus so much on the why, but concentrate of what we find necessary to do with our money.

The Basic List of Expenses

See if there aren't a bunch of things in this basic list of expenses that match your pattern of spending. The idea here is to get out in front of us the volume of things that we feel compelled to spend our wealth on.

  1. transportation
  2. clothes
  3. entertainment
  4. meals
  5. food
  6. gifts
  7. housing
  8. education
  9. children
  10. grooming
  11. taxes
  12. alimony
  13. fines and penalties
  14. lodging
  15. legal fees
  16. real estate
  17. memberships and associations
  18. contract help
  19. professional services
  20. child support
  21. insurance
  22. jewelry
  23. vacations
  24. communications
  25. sport vehicles
  26. subscriptions
  27. health care
  28. investments
  29. tobacco
  30. hobbies
  31. alcohol
  32. shopping
  33. check cashing
  34. drugs
  35. recreation
  36. credit card interest and fees
  37. refreshments and snacks
  38. credit card protection
  39. donations
  40. utilities

It's quite a list, but by no means all-inclusive. These items represent what I can think of right off the top of my head. It looks a bit daunting if you ask me. Thankfully we don't have to spend money on all or most of those things every day.

A Closer Look at Just One Category

We all recognize that the list is by no means comprehensive, but I want you to appreciate just how "thick" this list really is. Just think of the category of entertainment (#3 on the list) and imagine the different types of entertainment that we pay for:

  • theater
  • movies
  • concerts
  • nightclubs
  • sports we play
  • games at a stadium
  • pay per view sports
  • music
  • DVDs
  • comedy shows
  • car races
  • video game console
  • video games
  • video game accessories
  • entertainment arcades

This represents just a handful of more specific types of entertainment. There are plenty more types out there just ready to accept our hard earned cash. Now if you consider each of the categories could be at least this "dense", then you start to appreciate the potential "thickness" of the list.

Associated Spending

We're not finished yet with that category of "entertainment". Now we need to consider this category of spending, with all its potential robustness, also has other types of spending associated with it. Things like:

  • parking
  • snacks
  • beverages
  • cover charges
  • tips
  • proper attire for an event
  • drinks
  • transportation

Now, I think you can see how all this can easily start to add up. And, it's only one of the categories on a list of 40.

The Main Point

You're probably seeing how easy it is to become a spendthrift - there are so many areas of need and interest to spend money on. Each area can be very broad, and there are additional costs associated with each that we might not have even considered.

I liken spending and debt to a snowball rolling down a hill and you trying to stay out in front of it. You can for a while, but with the help of gravity and lots of snow on the ground, it builds in size and gains speed quickly.

If you're in debt, you've started out with a large snowball to begin with. If you're a spendthrift, you're making certain the path of the snowball has lots of good snow to roll over on its way down the hill.

Unwise spending habits can grow quickly like a snowball and overtake you if you don't realize the total costs of an activity you get involved in.

Make careful note of the items on the numbered list, and mentally add to them as you recognize other categories that I just didn't think of. The key idea to walk away with is the large number of things that potentially can consume our wealth, and the depth of financial involvement that each can possibly require.

There is no end to the things you can spend money on, and if you're a spendthrift, that can be a real problem for you and your family. The benefits of frugal living aren't going to materialize until you get excess spending under control.

Done with Spendthrift, take me back to Paying off Debt

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.