One of the best ways to save money is also the hardest. You have to cultivate patience. In today’s world that moves so fast and where everything is about having and doing things right now, patience is hard to find and even harder to apply. Every day new things are coming out that we want. There are new games, new books, new movies, new cars, new clothes, and new gadgets. Each one is (supposedly) better, flashier, trendier, cooler, and more useful than the previous models. It’s tempting to run to the store every week or every day to buy all the new things. It gets worse as we head into the fall and the manufacturers start releasing all their new stuff for the holidays. But if you want to save money, you have to step away from this carousel of new stuff and learn to be patient.
If you are patient, the price of the thing you want will almost always come down. Books come out in paperback (or the hardback lands on the clearance rack). Video games, CD’s and DVD’s come down in price or go on deep sales. Movies go to the dollar theater or come out on DVD. Electronic gadgets get cheaper the longer they’re out. (Remember when the Kindle came out and it was $399? Now there’s a model for $139.) Blu-Ray players and discs have all come way down in price in the last year or so. Clothes get clearanced at the end of the season. Those who are patient can reap big savings.
Being patient also means that you don’t get stuck with stuff you don’t like or that is obsolete. How many times have you rushed to the store to get a new video game only to get it home and discover that it’s not fun? Or you ran to the store to get your favorite author’s new book and discovered that she’s lost the magic? It happens frequently. Many people have shelves littered with things they paid too much for only to discover that it wasn’t worth it. If you’re patient you can either acquire these things much cheaper, thus mitigating the financial sting of a dud, or wait for reviews to come out that will tell you it’s not worth it. There are also people who have shelves full of things that did not become mainstream. If you weren’t patient and bought an HD DVD player, you’re sitting on an obsolete piece of junk. Patient people waited to see whether Blu-Ray or HD would win. Of course the same thing happened when Betamax and VHS were duking it out, and LaserDIsc tried to slip in there, too.
Being patient doesn’t necessarily mean doing without. Being patient does not mean that you can’t read the newest book or watch the latest movie. It just means that you either wait to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, or you find free or cheaper ways to get what you want. In the case of books, you can get new releases at the library. New release DVD’s and video games can be rented (and in some lucky locations found at the library). You can borrow books, DVD’s, and games from friends who bought them. Theatrical movies come to DVD so fast now that waiting three months isn’t long at all. If you have to see it in the theater, hit the local dollar theater. Electronic gadgets seem to refresh (and price drop) every six months or so. Wait for the second model and it will be cheaper and less buggy. If you have a birthday coming up and people are hounding you for gift ideas, don’t buy the new stuff and offer it up as a gift suggestion.
One good way to employ patience is to set up a one or two week rule. You won’t buy any new item or see a new movie for at least one or to weeks after it is released. No, the price won’t have come down that much, but plenty of reviews will have come out about the product. Thanks to the Internet, the first buyers post reviews as early as the release date. Give it a week or two and you’ll have a lot of reviews to check out and verify that the item is worth it. You’ll also hear from friends who bought the item. Maybe they love it and maybe they hate it. Let other people find the duds. If, after a week or two, it looks like a great product, then you can decide whether or not to buy it.
Another way to work on your patience is to limit the number of things you’ll buy on release date. Maybe you have an author that you dearly love, or a video game franchise that you can’t get enough of. It’s okay to say, “I’ll buy the work of author X when it’s first released, but all others will come from the library.” Or, “I’ll allow myself to buy the next game in game franchise Y and the next DVD in movie trilogy Z on release date and I’ll rent everything else.” Setting limits allows you to buy those things that are most important to you (thus keeping you from feeling deprived), but keeps the rest of your money in your wallet.
When you wait to buy things until they are either cheaper or proven to be worthwhile, you avoid ending up with piles of disappointing stuff. You save money and aggravation. I know it’s hard to wait when all your buddies have already seen that movie, or bought that gadget. But how many times do you hear them subsequently complaining that it wasn’t worth it? Let the impatient people pay full price while you sit calmly back and wait for the cream to rise to the top and for it to cost less.