• Stephanie Bacak, CFP
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Category Archive: Wealth Rules

Why You Spend Too Much

Sure, there’s the rush of buying, but why?

It boils down to the Diderot Effect.

In 1763 philosopher Denis Diderot was paid a large sum of money for his library by Catherine the Great.

He purchased a luxurious robe which made him feel important.

Then everything else he owned seemed no longer good enough; he wanted more.

Which led to a crazy shopping spree and his being in debt, and even worse, he began to feel there was “no more beauty.”

He went from being in control and owning his possessions, to his possessions ruling him.

This happens all the time. 

You decide it’s time for a new shoes and you leave the shops with shoes, a purse, a wallet, and maybe a new dress.

Or you decide to go on a weekend trip and buy walking shoes, new clothes and matching luggage. 

Both parts of the Diderot Effect just got you – first, as a person that is worth a weekend trip, you are also worthy of new things to wear (plus imagine the pics); and second, once you spend, then you continue spending. 

Like potato chips, you can’t eat just one.

What can you do?

1. Like any addiction, the first step is awareness. Own that it happens to you or it will continue to own you.

2. Avoid shopping as entertainment.

3. Write a shopping list and stick to it. Before you shop, reflect of why you want to buy each item.  Because my son outgrew his pants – great reason. Because deep down, I want people to be impressed with my new stuff – harmful.

4. Stuff doesn’t create happiness in life.  People in impoverished countries experience as much joy as we do.

5. Have a plan for the bigger picture you truly want such as your child’s college education, retirement, the peace of not having debt…

When you focus on the big things you really want, the constant “need to buy” fades.

Budgets are hard for most people to follow, so my clients and I find it more effective to pick a savings number and pay that like any other bill and you will quickly adjust your spending.

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Smart Money Couples Don’t Wait for January

Marriage is about moving toward a common goal, so you better set some.  I strive to help clients grow together and with a happy retirement in mind.  My part is calculating the numbers and using that shoebox full of old statements to create a picture so informed decisions are possible.  The below are things you can do to grow (wealthy) together:
1. Dream together – set big and small goals and start imaging how you want life to be. Ever create a dream board?  Great activity for the family, instead of saying “I want to travel the world” or “have a sailboat”.  Find a picture of a couple drifting into the tangerine sunset on on a catamaran with the sails full of wind.
2. Plan together – once you have goals, work backwards to figure out what that requires today and every day.  Don’t guess, write it down and add it up.  Some goals have to be adjusted and sometimes, I help clients turn the knob a little on what they are committed to doing today or whatever it takes to bring dreams and realities in line with each other.
3. Start from scratch – the best budget planning is when you consider what if I could make this line item zero (0).  True this doesn’t work for everything but go ahead and look at everything you spend money on and ask Why? and Is this worth my life energy?  Or even if it sparks joy in your life.
4. Create rules together – Easier than a monthly budget is to take step #3 to determine what dollar amount of percentage of income is going to debt pay down or retirement or other goals each month. Review monthly to stay on track.
5.Fun money – having cash each month that is each of yours for eating lunch or entertainment or whatever.   This equals things out because you may prefer lunch out while your spouse may bring lunch and get a massage once a month.
6. Plan a vacation – plan way in advance because the most pleasure is from looking forward to the trip.  And get deals!   Rewards within your budget are good for you and your relationship.
7. Sleep tight – make certain your spouse is covered (and not in debt) if something should happen to you.
8. Contribute to retirement – you are going to share the money when you retire, so motivation one another to put it away today.  There is more than one way to save for retirement and you need to be diversified in investments and tax vehicles.
Get ready for your next 12 months and 20 years now!

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