Spend consciously. Know where your money goes.

Need a fancy breakfast sandwich and high-end latte to kick start your day? Go for it. Want a pair of designer shoes that are well made and you’ll wear regularly for years? Bring it on.

Spending consciously is not about being cheap, or denying ourselves life’s pleasures. It’s far from a mindset of lack or scarcity. It’s about awareness and making choices that align with what’s important to us.

Many of us spend beyond our means, not because we can’t afford things, but because we don’t pay attention to where our money goes. No one wants to start their day with interest payments and bank fees, yet those undesirables can add up to be extremely expensive. Worse, they can cause stress, block us from spending on things we actually enjoy and restrict us from some of our life options.

So, those little trinkets or sale items that we buy for ourselves or as gifts? It’s time to stop and ask, do I really want this item, or just have an urge to buy? Was I dreaming of it for days, or did it suddenly pop up in front of me?

If we look around our home at all the stuff that we don’t use – clothes, shoes, books, coffee mugs, tools, decor, old food, etc., we can see what’s been holding us back from a great vacation, or an investment, or time off between jobs.

Take action: Try adding up how much interest and unnecessary fees you pay each year. Include mortgage interest, auto and student loans, bank fees, and what you pay on credit card debt. It could easily add up to $8,000 every year. Next, look around your home and roughly cost out what you spent on all the things you could easily live without. Now that you are more conscious of the monetary trade off, focus on spending only on what’s worthwhile to you.

:: Inspired by Ramit Sethi’s book: I Will Teach You to be Rich.

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