Know thyself. It’s easier to say than to do. It’s also a key to saving money.

Let’s take souvenirs for an example. One of my favorite souvenirs is a Les Mis t-shirt from our trip to NY city. (Thanks Daddy!) When I wear it, I remember my first musical and the only one I’ve ever been to except for our college’s plays. I remember standing in line for half-price tickets. I remember the thrill of it all…

That t-shirt is a good souvenir. I think the memories are actually the secondary part of its being a good souvenir. The first part is that it’s a stylish t-shirt (unlike many souvenirs), it looks good on me, and I wear t-shirts.

It’s a good souvenir because I use it.

I also have a beret and a sweatshirt from Paris. They’re not as good souvenirs because I don’t look too good in hats and certain sweatshirts. So they’re nice and I still have them for memory’s sake, but I don’t wear them. (Ok, sometimes I wear the sweatshirt on laundry day.)

Later on, I started wearing hoodies—so my purchase of a college hoodie was a good decision. It already had the reputation on campus of being quite warm and lasting well. And the colors were good again, colors that I look good in and that go with my wardrobe. Sure enough, it served me well all 4 years and is still going strong. Score for me.

I have other random things which have been tossed in the misc drawer or even been thrown away.

On our honeymoon, we decided not to buy anything. Why? Because I didn’t see anything for sale that I thought would both capture the memories of our honeymoon and would be useful/practical/or even pretty (and would be displayed).

However, what’s useful/practical/pretty differs a lot from person to person. If you’re a silver tea spoon collector, then those would be great souvenir buys. If you’re not, then they’re a waste of your money.

A gym membership right now would probably be a waste of time for me. I’d have to get serious about exercising before I did that. Paying for a membership won’t reform me. I had a paid-for gym (free, but it came out of tuition of course) at college and never got in a regular schedule there. Some semesters were better than others. And that gym was within very easy walking distance and almost always available.

Or maybe you’re a crafter and you’ve decided to take on a big project. So you go out and buy a whole bunch of materials. Then you don’t follow-through and they just lie around for years. Perhaps you could have considered what upcoming events might stall your plans or your track record. That might have led you to make different decisions, whether about when to buy the supplies or how to split up the project or whether to postpone it.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know ourselves. We know who we’d like to be. We have idealized visions of how we’ll use this gym membership or how that coffee mug is a good buy even though we have 10 we don’t use at home. That’s ok, it’s good to know how you want to grow.

But we always have ourselves around. So we’re always getting to know ourselves better, if we try at it.

What have you learned about yourself lately? How might this affect your spending in the future?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah February 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I agree. I posted an article on my blog a few days ago about fridge magnets – I’ve decided they’re just a waste of money. I’d rather have an uncluttered fridge front 🙂

Dan February 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Nice article. I must be careful when I go to an electronics store, else I come home with more junk and less money.

RacerX February 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm

UIf you just ask yourself, is this going to feel like a good purchase tomorrw? You’ll be surprised at how much you can save!

Becky@FamilyandFinances February 10, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I have learned that I don’t eat a lot of fruits and veggies, even if they are in the fridge. I used to waste money buying them with the hopes that I’d eat them. A week later, they ended up in the trash.
Obviously, fruits and veggies are good for me and I should eat them. I still buy them, but in small quantities and only one certain fruit or veggie at a time. This way, I don’t waste a lot of food if I don’t eat it, and I can usually find a way to work ONE fruit or vegetable into my week.
Kinda sad, but like you said, you need to know yourself!

Kelly February 11, 2008 at 1:19 am

But we don’t really wear berets in France!!

All kidding aside, I totally agree. Knowing thyself can save you los of money… now I just have to go cancel that gym membership.

CatherineL February 11, 2008 at 3:57 am

Hi Mrs M – I’m not usually into souvenirs too much, but like you, I can’t resist t-shirts and hoodies to remind me of places I’ve enjoyed visiting.

Another thing I’ve learned is that it is pointless to carry on paying gym membership at a gym which is close to my old office!

Also, we should not eat out so often, now that we work from home – there’s just no excuse anymore.

Thank you for making me think about these things.

SavingDiva February 11, 2008 at 10:56 am

I realize that I’m lazy (very lazy) when it comes to cooking and cleaning. I’ve devised the 15 minute cleaning solution to avoid hiring a maid service (I was very close). I’m trying to cook enough to always have leftovers in fridge for the lazy days that I just want to eat pizza and sushi.

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