I have a friend who is incredibly picky, to the detriment of her finances. She demands certain brands of every food and personal product she buys. Even if another brand is cheaper, she won’t buy it. She demands specific features in her cars. On vacation, her hotel room must have certain views and specific amenities. She will only go to restaurants that serve certain foods prepared in very specific ways. She’ll only dress her kids in specific brands. The list of things she is picky about goes on and on.
She also complains about her finances constantly. There’s never enough money for all her needs, she claims. She can’t get ahead. There’s nothing to save. She and her husband make above average salaries so I suspect that the culprit is, at least in part, this pickiness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting certain things, but if you can’t afford them all you need to choose more carefully.
I encouraged my friend to think about the things she buys and to decide if there aren’t other acceptable alternatives. Does she have to have name brand cleaning supplies, or might the store brand work just as well? Does she have to have a great view when she travels if she isn’t going to be in the room that much? Do the kids really have to wear Baby Gap, or will clothes from Target work? I asked her to think about the things that are most important to her and limit her pickiness to just those things.
She determined that food is very important to her. She wants to eat healthy, so she wasn’t willing to give up organic foods and restaurants that cook with certain ingredients. Fine, that is important to her. But she did agree that she could choose less expensive lodgings when they travel since she doesn’t use the room very much. The savings from one area can pay for the other. She also agreed that the kids could wear less expensive clothes and the savings could go to their college funds. She decided on a few other things that she could be less picky about and will put that money into savings.
My friend is now choosing to pay a premium for the things that matter most to her and saving money by purchasing cheaper alternatives of everything else. I reminded her that this list isn’t set in stone. If her priorities change one day, she can decide to place a premium on other things while choosing others to save on. If her income increases, she can reintroduce her preference for items she’s chosen to save on at this time. Nothing she decides today is permanent. She can still be picky, she just has to make certain that her finances can accommodate her pickiness.
I also reminded her that she may still be able to be picky, as long as she pays less for things. She can have that name brand product if it’s on sale or she has a great coupon that makes it the cheapest option. She can buy those name brand clothes if she waits for the end of season sales (or gets them at a consignment shop).She may be able to afford her special hotel rooms if she travels in the off-season. There are ways to be picky on a budget. I think she’s now motivated to satisfy her pickiness for less.
If you want to save money, you have to stop being so picky about the things you buy and the things you do. Sure, it’s fine to prefer certain things, but if your finances aren’t unlimited you may have to stop being so picky about everything and choose to be picky about only those things that are really important to you. Unless something really matters to you, get over your picky tendencies and pocket the difference.