youíre pulling together your budget for 2015 or have
made "spend less" one of your New Yearís
resolutions, consider this tip: Rather than simply cut
back on dinners out or trips to the mall, think instead
about how to spend more meaningfully.
Clements, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal
Sunday, makes that point in his book, "Jonathan
Clements Money Guide 2015," a road map of sorts for
managing your money in the year ahead. He says that to
make our dollars really count, we should look back at
how we spent our discretionary money in 2014. Then ask
the question, were those expenditures satisfying?
the answer is no, you know where to start tightening
good way to get started is to look at a year-end credit
card summary, which some banks provide. The summary
gives you an overview of how much you spent in certain
categories throughout the year, say, transportation and
can also sign up for services such as Mint.com, which
aggregate online financial accounts and track spending
in real time. Mint will also look at past purchases and
calculate how much youíve spent, on average, in any
shows that experiences tend to be more gratifying than
possessions, and Clements suspects that will be the case
for most people when they think about their purchases in
made you most happy was, probably, going out to dinner
with friends or taking a vacation with the family,"
he said. "It wonít be the new refrigerator."
my case, I got a new refrigerator in late December.
still really like it," I said.
a month," Clements said.
because, eventually, things start to lose their luster:
A new car will one day need repairs. A new refrigerator
gets dirty and cramped. Our memory of experiences, on
the other hand, tends to grow fonder over time.
broken-down car just sits in the driveway, taunting
you," Clements said.
youíve gotten your priorities set, you can make
spending decisions that give you more bang for the buck
and free up dollars for other goals, such as paying off
debt or building up savings.
Flaherty, 30, graduated from law school in 2009 with
more than $100,000 in student loan debt. She works in
the nonprofit sector in Brunswick, Maine, and isnít
making the high salary she expected to earn when she was
in school. To chip away at her sizable debt load, she
doesnít buy as many new clothes and other items.
some things were just too important to cut.
kept the day-to-day things, like getting coffee,"
Flaherty said. "I canít make good coffee myself.
Iíve tried, and no one wants to work with me if I
havenít been caffeinated."
also allows herself to go out with co-workers for a
sandwich once a week.
didnít want to miss that social aspect at work,"
she said. "That was important to me."
2012, Kelsey Folmar decided that she and husband, Kendan,
should pay off his remaining $17,000 in student loan
debt. Using Mint.com to scour their finances, she
discovered they had spending leaks, including
convenience store purchases, which alone averaged $130
plugging those leaks ó and renting a room in a family
memberís home for only $400 per month for nearly a
year ó the couple, both 27 and living in Houston, paid
off the debt last April. But all the while, they allowed
themselves some indulgences.
had a budget for going out to eat," Kelsey said.
"Itís just something my husband and I have always
enjoyed. It was the one thing we splurged on."