My Thoughts On Mindful Spending

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I was swimming laps today and it dawned on me that the pull buoy I use (for soloing out the upper body), has been with me since 1984. I bought it when I was at the peak of my competitive swimming “career”. It’s just as good as the day I first started using it. As a matter of fact, I have not needed to add more air to it since 1984.

I always work out but I do switch up my routine so there are periods where this thing sits idle but I keep in my car for when a swim work out is in order and it has always been faithful to serve its purpose.

Recognizing that I’ve had this pull buoy for 34 years got me thinking about mindful spending.

Tested and Tried

I’ve had my car since 2008 also pictured here which currently has 184k miles on it. It seems to run just fine as long as I keep up with the maintenance. Sure some things have worn out and I’ve needed to replace them but so far I’ve spent under my car’s Kelly Blue Value this year for repairs (my rule of thumb).

I also had the same mountain bike (Single Trek 930) from 1995 through 2018. It would still be going strong if it had not been recently stolen 🙁

Picture Sent to The Police. Bike Not Recovered.

Mindful Spending

I’ve recently heard a lot about mindful spending whether it be from podcasts or forums. It seems to be a hot topic in the Financial Independence (FI) community right now. Recently Cait Flanders was interviewed on the ChooseFI podcast. I am currently #23 on the list at my library for her book, The Year of Less.  It sounds like she found more fulfillment in learning to live on less. From my experience, it’s easy to fill the void with crap and guess what? The crap doesn’t bring fulfillment.

Then there is Vicki Robin who wrote Your Money or Your Life with Joe Dominquez which was originally published in 1992. However, the fourth edition was just released and I am #30 on the list at my library. Not surprisingly she was also interviewed on the ChoosFI podcast recently.

Vicki writes and talks about this concept of your enough point where she says there are four components:

  1. Accountability – know how much money is flowing in & out of your life
  2. An Internal Yardstick For Fulfillment – measure by your own standards
  3. A Purpose In Life – figure it out!
  4. Responsibility – how does your life affect the world around you?

I love the concept that there is a point at which enough is enough and any more won’t make my life better.

I cannot give a review of either book yet, but my fellow GenX blogger, Jenny, who writes over at Good Life Better just wrote a review of Vicki’s book so head on over there if you want a little synopsis.

My Take on Stuff

What I can speak about is my experience with stuff. If you’ve read any of my previous articles about me digging my way out of debt (and addiction), you will have surmised I was not always good with money. I made poor choices and lived on debt. I wouldn’t say I was a shopaholic but certainly, some of the debt I racked up was from buying clothes. We’ll get to my solution for that later but first I want to talk about the quality pieces I have bought, kept and, see no need to replace.

Buy Quality And Take Care of It

Of the three items pictured above, I only spent big money on the mountain bike, comparatively speaking.  It was well worth it as it was my solo transportation for 3 years when I lived in Colorado. It was a great bike. I rode it through our 20+ year relationship and took care of it. It will probably last another 20 years and I bless the next owner with the joy of that. I figure the person who ends up with it will probably not be the person who stole it. Regardless, I bless them.


  1. Sidebar #1: a client said an interesting thing to me about the bike theft. She said, “wouldn’t you have liked to have seen the thief and said, here is some money but just leave my bike.” That is exactly right, I would have paid him/her to not take my bike which I customed to my liking. Alas, the bike is gone and it’s time to purchase another bike to love. I’m currently looking at the used market which is a great way to buy quality for less if you are willing to buy used.
  2. Sidebar #2: when it was stolen I was discouraged and posted in the ChooseFI private FB group. I received a lot of encouragement and advice BUT I also received a private message from someone who wanted to help. Whaat?? While I ended up getting a check from my insurance company, this little act of kindness restored my hope in humanity. 🙂

It’s Worth It

My point with this story is that it can be worth it to buy quality. If it is something you know you are going to use every day and get value out of it, then spending a little more money to get a higher quality can actually save you money. Here are my reasons to buy quality:

  1. The higher price tag will cause you to pause and think how badly you want this piece of stuff
  2. You’ll have to budget and save which will also cause you to pause
  3. Once you buy it, you’ll need to replace it less frequently
  4. When you invest in something more expensive, you are more likely to take care of it which leads to the last point
  5. Less waste for our landfills

The swim pull buoy was probably more costly compared to other cheaper swim buoys out there. To be honest I don’t know as it was so long ago and my parents bought it for me. Thirty-four years later, I certainly think it has been worth it.

My car was not an expensive car. I bought it because I’ve had good experiences with Saturns (now defunct). With cars, it all comes down to maintenance and as a single woman, I have spent some time researching the best way to do that which you can read about here.


I think it safe to say that most of us, in America, have too many clothes. I’m slowly dwindling down my wardrobe and trying the hanger experiment where you turn all the hangers around and as you wear something you turn it the other way. I will donate any clothing which is on a hanger that has not been turned around by the end of the season.

My boss has decided to wear the same type of pants and shirt every day in order to simplify his life. I am not quite there yet but getting closer. I do like to dress up and have my own style but I’m finding I can do that with less. A less full closet = less time deciding what to wear.

My Mom loves to spoil us children at Christmas and this is when I typically get new clothing. Annually we have a ritual of shopping together and picking out clothes. This is really not about the clothing, though 🙂

Closing Thoughts

We live in a consumerist society and we are the target of some creative marketing. Seth Godin wrote a book called, All Marketers are Liars and it’s available at the library but I’m holding off as I have so many good books to read on my bookshelf currently while I wait for my other library holds to come in.

What brings you fulfillment in life? I find that it is not really stuff that brings me joy, but rather the relationships that I foster. Sure we all need some stuff and for that, I recommend buying quality and taking care of it. In the end, it comes down to being mindful with our spending habits.

Let’s keep this conversation going. Please share your thoughts on mindful spending in the comments.

“Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” ~Henry David Thoreau



19 thoughts on “My Thoughts On Mindful Spending”

  1. “My boss has decided to wear the same type of pants and shirt every day in order to simplify his life. ”

    Haha the Steve Jobs approach. I like it.

    I definitely agree on the buy quality. I like the saying “the poor man pays twice” – they pay twice because first time, they buy something that isn’t high quality, and it breaks, and they finally save up and shell out for the proper item.

    1. It is a smart approach!

      I’ve never heard that say, “the poor man pays twice” but it seems aptly true in this circumstance.

  2. Hi Msfiology.
    definitely agree it’s the positive and nourishing relationship that bring the most joy. I do like high quality stuff though, so I choose to only have a few of them.

    thrifting has opened my eyes into how most things are crappily made these days. vintage stuff if you can find them to suit your taste is the way to go… or you need to go with small scale producers…

    Your car, bike etc all look like classics to me. sorry about the loss of your bike.

    1. Hi Coco! Vintage stuff is definitely the way to go for a great many things, I agree.

      Funny story on my Saturn – this model was only made for 1 or 2 years in Belgium before Saturn went out of business. I had a mechanic work on it who told me it has a Mercedes Benz chassis. That is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Mercedes! Anyways, it is a well built car that I plan to drive into the ground. Thanks for your condolences on my bike loss.

  3. Does your library offer audiobooks? I’ve found a lot of audiobooks on Hoopla & Overdrive which have been great for “reading” more books while I do small chores etc. It’s surprising how many bigger libraries offer audiobooks through those phone apps (The Year of Less etc. were all available from mine).

    I’ve definitely learned a lot about what brings me happiness in the last year (after my divorce). It blows my mind that I have felt no guilt or remorse on simply ridding myself of all the furniture and memories from that part of life, because I know they were purchases made in compromise (for my ex-husband). I should never have allowed him to persuade me into thinking I liked or needed what I didn’t, etc.

    Now, I’m starting fresh. I make mindful choices and intentional purchases in every part of my life, from what I eat to what kind of furniture I would like in my home to the car that I drive.

    I guess I’m trying to say that for me – it took a life-altering change and bad relationship to see the error of my ways and no longer want to throw money at the emptiness I sometimes feel. It might also parallel with making big career moves and inching closer to age 30. Not to sound morbid, but I do consider my mortality more now than I did 5 years ago.

    1. Hey Liz, yeah my library does offer audio books and I love using Overdrive. For some reason, The Year of Less is only available on Ebook. I could probably request it, though, in audio. Thanks for that idea!

      Those are some profound reflections you shared. It certainly sounds like through unfortunate circumstances you developed a strong sense of self-awareness. I never tire of redemptive stories. I think by facing tough things, we are given the opportunity to develop grit. I just love the definition of grit – courage and resolve; strength of character. From what I read, you got it, girl!

      I think about my mortality too. We’d hardly be self-aware if we didn’t, huh?

  4. State of O FI O

    Stuff has never been my thing and so as a rule I am usually very selective about what I bring into my home/life. Not that I have never fallen prey to the occasional marketing ploy or impulse purchase because I have, but your mentoring has challenged me to stop and reflect . Do I really need this or do I just really want it? Will it bring me value and is that value enough to put off FI? Thank you for helping me find my pause button!

    1. You inspire me with your discipline with money so I’m quite honored that I’m helping you even in a small way 🙂

      It really is all about pausing!

  5. As a contractor, my tools are my livelihood. If I bought the crappy tool because it was cheaper, it’s going to cost me in the long run when I have to run out in the middle of a job to replace a broken piece of junk.
    Quality is absolutely where it’s at, and, coincidentally, this blog seems to have it in spades. I’m new here, but I’m going to come back again for sure!

    1. You are very kind, sir. Thank you! I know you from writing over at ChooseFI and I’ve heard Jonathan mention having you on the show so I look forward to hearing that!

      Yeah, I used to buy cheap stuff cus I was broke. I’m no longer broke, but now I’m frugal. However, because I’m above the line my mentality has changed and I’ve decided to buy quality. It’s so much better and means less shopping, replacing, and frustrations.

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