Smart Financial Decisions: Thinking About Percentages
Those who have read Retiring On My Terms before know I tend to focus on the numbers while charting our course towards financial independence.
I’ve posted in the past about the large impact small decisions can have over time, and we have made several changes to our daily habits since we actively started down our path to FIRE.
As I read posts from others who are more focused on frugality and minimalism, I always learn something new. I can’t honestly say I’ve implemented everything I’ve read, but even ideas that seem outlandish still encourage me to review my own decision-making, and force me to think about things differently.
As my thinking has changed, one thing I’ve started doing is evaluating my consumption in terms of percentages.
I’ve always thought about our future investment returns in percentages. Hopefully over the long run our portfolio will deliver annual returns in the mid to high single digits.
But when I think about our spending in percentage terms, we can easily crush our potential investment returns on a daily basis.
Let me explain.
If I use my disposable razor for eight days, instead of my usual seven, that’s a return of 14%!
Cutting my morning shower to 8 minutes from 10 minutes saves me a tidy 20%!
Getting six breakfasts instead of five from a box of cereal returns 20% – and is probably better for my waistline!
Mowing the lawn three times a month instead of four delivers savings on gasoline of 25%!
And wearing my glasses instead of my daily disposable contact lenses on the weekends? 29%! Booyah!!!
Now I recognize some of these moves may save just pennies at a time. But if you make several smart small decisions a day, over many years those numbers can really add up!
I think some of our parents and grandparents, who often grew up in tougher circumstances, have tried sharing knowledge of common sense frugality over the years, reminding us countless times that:
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Turn off the light when you leave the room.”
“Put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat.”
I acknowledge none of these decisions, in and of themselves, are going to dramatically change most of our financial situations. But if you question everything you do, and try to recognize when you’ve allowed a small decision to turn into a potentially expensive habit, I think there is probably still some low hanging fruit for most of us to harvest on our quests for financial independence.
Trying to find and collect those monster returns several times a day helps me feel like I am getting a little closer to my early retirement and financial independence goals.
Are there any tricks that help you be more frugal in your consumption habits?