What Kind of Spender Are You?

October 12, 2009

When you look around at all the things you own, what story does it tell about the kind of spender you are? Are you a smart, calculated spender that parts with your money only when necessary or do you tend to spend more freely and frivolously?

When I bought myself a green hooded Columbia Sportswear winter jacket over ten years ago I didn’t realize it would come to symoblize the kind of spender that I would become.

As a broke college freshmen combing through the bargain racks in the mall I almost choked on my gum when I found the deal on the coat. I almost felt like I was stealing the jacket it was so heavily discounted. Turns out the coat was a great purchase, it’s kept me warm through many cold winter days over the years.

As I walked into my 10 year college reunion dinner this weekend I realized I was wearing that same winter coat, the one I’d used throughout my college career. Reflecting on why I was the only one sporting a vintage 1990’s jacket I was reminded that I’m a rather miserly spender. I didn’t mention my observation to my wife because she I’m sure would have been embarrased and sworn then and there to buy me a new coat.

Of course you don’t have to keep the same coat for over 10 years to think of yourself as a smart spender. Everyone’s priorities are different, you may feel more strongly about your wardrobe than I do and update it more frequently. But look at the overall trend of your spending to see how you spend money. If you spend freely and often in all areas of your life then you have the potential to save yourself thousands of dollars a year simply by taking the time to think over each purchase for a few seconds and ask yourself whether you’re being a smart spender

For me, my green coat represents the approach of minimalist spending; I try and spend money only when I have to. That approach doesn’t work for everyone but I’ve done a decent job mastering the skill.

What approach do you take to spending? How much money could you save each year if you put a little more thought and discipline into your spending?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Responses to What Kind of Spender Are You?

  • Jerry

    I’m not a metrosexual but I do like having some nice clothes now and again. I do like to spend some of my income on clothing but I never spend beyond my means. My wife and I are extremely frugal which leads to finding all kinds of deals in all sorts of places. Living this way has been insurance for our budget and we’ve been able to pay off our consumer debt by being frugal in all areas that we can.

  • cheryl

    A similar mindset and outerwear experience- we cook great food at home, seldom eat out, love to travel and we both dislike shopping – the experience and wasting money and time. In 1994 a friend told us about some Polartek (fleece) pullovers on clearance – marked down from $50 to $17 – so we bought four- we canoe, kayak, camp, hike and generally stay outside a lot – they are still our ‘go to’ outerwear – we are in North Florida so three or four months of the year we are living in them . Our daughters would even ‘forget’ their coats so they could borrow ours- family favorites. One of the four has mysteriously disappeared but the other three still look new.

  • Jon

    If you talked to my wife and kids, they’d say I’m frugal or thrifty at best (other adjectives may come to mind). However, my actual spending habits are a bit of a mix of extreme frugality and frivolity. For example, I spend the absolute minimum on clothing required to get the things I must have. I shop the clearance racks at Target all the time, and occasionally hit the thrift stores for bargains, too.
    On the other hand, when it comes to food, I don’t pinch pennies too much. I do use coupons and sales to get the best prices I can on things, but I refuse to live on beans and rice. As a “retired” chef, I love to cook tasty, nutritious meals at home, and I use high quality ingredients. Could I survive on a low budget for groceries? Yes. But I absolutely refuse to compromise, when I don’t need to, on that area of my life. My dining out budget, in contrast, is quite low. I see no need to pay inflated prices for things I can prepare more economically and which taste better at home, unless I’ve made a conscious decision to have a special evening out with friends.
    I’m also a miser when it comes to home furnishings. We bought our first new furniture in 14 years this fall. If a piece of furniture ain’t broke, I don’t replace it. Most of the things we have in our house we bought second hand. No need to impress people; if it’s functional and in good repair, we’re happy.
    On the other hand, my wife and I enjoy traveling on our motorcycles. We spend a fair amount of money maintaining them and buying riding gear, and on the travel expenses, as well. We’re paying for the experiences, the memories, and the time with our friends.
    I could go on with more examples, but the point is that I’ve set priorities for what is and is not important to me, and my budget seems to follow them.

  • Linette

    I love finding bargains on stuff I will use for years to come. I too, have a Columbia jacket I found for cheap and it was used. I have no plans on trading it in, although I have bought a few other over coats for other occasions, all for very very cheap.

  • Erik

    I definitely need to keep my spending in check. I am good about not spending small amounts here and there, but I am bad when I go to the grocery store without a plan or to Target without a purpose.


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