Personal finance often serve as great resources for those seeking to build wealth and improve their financial standing. The best bloggers offer practical advice and actionable tips while creating a welcoming community for anyone interested in money matters.
Another way bloggers help is by leaving all their details on the table. Money used to be considered a highly taboo subject; now, in the open, highly accessible digital age, we can see real-life examples of the where, what, when, why, and how of other people’s finances.
This is helpful because it provides us with a benchmark. But it can also be a little frustrating, because it’s all too easy to fall into the comparison trap.
It’s easy to get down on yourself and your own finances when you compare your net worth with personal finance bloggers who bare it all — and feel like you’ve come up short. Way short, in some cases.
This is especially frustrating when you feel like you’ve already tried to make an effort to increase wealth: you’ve cut overpriced services like cable. You’re paying down your debt so you stop losing money to interest. You’ve increased your retirement contributions or have moved some of your liquid assets into investments so they can start earning you a return.
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What else can you do?
If you’re feeling stuck on the progress you’re trying to make to increase wealth, you may need to consider wanting less.
Increase Wealth by Wanting Less
You can make an instant, positive impact on your finances by making a simple shift in mindset. You should simply want less.
Sure, that is easier said than done. Wanting stuff has become a behavioral habit. We’re trained to want to acquire more things; we’re encouraged by society and our culture to accumulate as many things as possible.
We buy bigger and bigger homes to fill with more and more possessions. We need larger cars so we can haul all of our goodies around (and to have something to put the latest and greatest stuff in to take back home).
And it’s hard to blame us for having this mindset. For some reason, we tend to think that looking rich is the same as being rich, and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The majority of those that you might consider wealthy tend to keep their money where it’s working for them — in the market, earning returns, compounding, increasing that initial wealth year after year — instead of driving it, living in it, or wearing it.
We’re constantly sold to, as well, via marketing campaigns, advertisements, and commercials. We’re lead to believe that this product or that service will instantly improve our lives somehow or make us better as human beings. But the things that lead to true happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment usually can’t be bought.
When we want less, when we stop worrying about what a mass-consumer society thinks about our lack of desire to acquire more stuff, we can start increasing wealth.
Why Does Wanting Less Mean an Increase in Wealth?
When you want less, you’re likely to spend less on things that don’t provide some sort of tangible return for you. That’s more money in your pocket that you can then use to increase wealth.
Money is a tool, and it’s true that you need money to make more of it.
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The easiest way to do this is to take the money you’re no longer spending on stuff, and put it into investments. This could mean buying index funds, investing in a business (with the long-term goal of increasing income and therefore available money to invest in the market), or purchasing real estate to provide you with another, potentially passive source of income.
Strategies for Changing Your Mindset
So how do you actually change how you think and how you perceive what you need? How can we get in touch with what we truly value, so we can prioritize spending and ensure our money is going towards purchases that are actually important to us?
Here are some ideas you can put into action now so you can start wanting less — and start increasing wealth by eliminating frivolous spending:
- Practice gratitude. Appreciate what you do have instead of single-mindedly focusing on what you don’t.
- Find joy in more than material goods. We may get a flash of happiness when we purchase something new. But then the novelty wears off and we’re no longer happy (instead, we go searching for the next thing to buy to try and capture that fleeting happiness again). Stop wasting time and money chasing something that can’t provide true happiness. Instead, find joy in the experiences you have. Find joy in spending your time with the people you care about.
- Think about purchases in terms of time, not money. Most of us have to work to earn money. And many times, we exchange our time and efforts to receive that money (in the form of a paycheck from an employer or a payment from a customer or client). So when you spend that money, remember that you’re not just exchanging cash — you’re exchanging the time you worked to earn that cash in the first place. So, for example, if you made $10 per hour, and wanted to buy an outfit that cost $100 total, consider that you would have had to work for ten hours to make enough money to pay for those clothes. Are they really that valuable, that you’d give up 10 hours of your time to have them? Most material goods simply aren’t worth that price. We can’t make more time, so make sure both your time and money are being utilized in the best possible way.
When you want less, you free yourself from the obligation to accumulate more stuff. You don’t weigh yourself down with the unessential. And you have more disposable income to put towards investments that will actually help you increase wealth.
If you wanted less, could you free up more money to utilize to increase wealth and your net worth?
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J. Money says
Agreed!! Getting into the habit of wanting LESS does wonders! Been doing my best to practice it going on three years now and so far so sexy 🙂
Mr. 4HWD says
You’re definitely a great role model for those learning how to want less, J!
I agree! Wanting less and needing less is a great key to increasing wealth. Plus, the addition of less stuff into the mix has got to be a bonus!
Nicola recently posted…June Aims
Mr. 4HWD says
Definitely! More stuff is more stress.
Green Girl Success says
You are so right!
Wanting less means more mindful living and mindful living means more happiness. For me, at least.
When I started living mindfully on a 6-figure salary, my savings started skyrocketing… effortlessly and without any budgeting or depravation.
Once I realized how little I really needed to be truly happy, I figured out that my side income was enough to get me by. So, I quit my job to gain back my freedom and pursue more side income. Very liberating!
Green Girl Success recently posted…Green Tech or Low Tech
Mr. 4HWD says
That’s a fantastic story to share with others to show the power of wanting less! Nicely done 🙂
[email protected] says
What a breath of fresh air…and put forth so simply! Thanks for writing. You’re a true thinker of my own heart!
Mr. 4HWD says
Thanks Wes! I appreciate it, and glad I could provide a good read.
Prudence Debtfree says
Amen! It is a real freedom to want less. It used to be that when I wanted to buy something, I would just put my money down (more likely my credit card) or else feel a terrible deprivation. I still get impulses to buy, but I’ve developed the habit of waiting – not acting immediately on the impulse. Way more often than not, the impulse goes away.
On another note, I actually like it when bloggers share their numbers. It’s sort of like people trying to lose pounds sharing their weight. It’s up to each one of us not to get hung up in comparisons. Whether we owe a $20,000 debt or a $200,000 debt – whether we earn a salary of $40,000 or $120,000 – so many of us are in the same boat. I think it’s good to break the taboo of frank talk on personal finances.
Prudence Debtfree recently posted…2nd Anniversary of Debt Reduction: $78, 000 Down
I totally agree with you. I am trying to get into the habit of wanting less and have made a start on de-cluttering our house to get rid of all of our crap. Now if I see something I want, I leave it for a while and say if I still really want after a month, I’ll go and buy it but quite often, I don’t.
MrsFinancialFreedom recently posted…To Overpay or Not to Overpay your Mortgage?
Free To Pursue says
Wanting less has allowed our household to reduce our yearly income by $100K and live happier, more fulfilling lives.
It is so odd…..now that we can finally afford nearly anything we want, there is very little we want that we don’t already have. Does that mean we got it before we could afford it? Yikes!
Davey Pockets says
Great article. Less is more its almost a secret of the universe. What do you reccomend for expenses that seem like a necessity? Like phone, internet, Insurance, etc.? Thanks
Davey Pockets recently posted…Simple 2 step process anyone can use to earn money fast!
Wayne (Wirs) says
One powerful strategy that you didn’t mention, is the next time you move, move into a much smaller home. I’ve lived in an RV for five years and now live in a van (by choice) while earning income as a freelance programmer.
Whenever I want something, I have to ask myself a very important question: “Do I have room for this and if not, am I willing to get rid of something else for it?”
I’m not suggesting everyone live at this extreme, but anyone can move to a smaller house or apartment.
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Tiffany the Bargainista says
I love this post. It’s so true. I’ve learned to consider with each purchase: Is it something that I’m really going to use? Do I have a place to put it? Can I do without it? I’ve learned that more stuff can just mean more clutter which will definitely make you less happy. Think of all the time spend cleaning and looking for things when you just have too much stuff! Most of the time, you hadn’t even thought about “needing” this thing until you saw it so where did this “need” suddenly come from?
I especially like that you broke down the cost of the item into how much time you spend to earn it. Someone once told me that you can always make more money but you’ll never be able to replace the time you spend. Treasure your time and invest it in your loved ones and things that matter. When you think of the other things that you could have spent that time (and money) on, it makes material things look a lot more expensive.
On the “time instead of money” rubric for evaluating purchases, don’t forget the time it takes to dust, pack, move, store, and unpack things. I have a friend who was super-proud of being able to get bags of clothes from the thrift store by shopping on certain days with certain coupons, meanwhile she always had to rent apartments with walk-in closets to store them.
Another rubric to apply is to look at the people who are actually your neighbors instead of the Joneses. The more time you spend with people who are content with their stuff and who are working instead on art or travel or building great relationships or making music, the less you’ll be motivated to accumulate stuff.
Christine Berry - Wealth Way Online says
I agree with this totally, but I’ll take it a step further. For me I naturally want more when I’m unhappy and want less when I’m happy.
So what makes me happiest in the world? TRAVELING! When I’m traveling, indulging in sunshine etc I’m so much happier and feel less of a need for “stuff” and more of a need for experiences.
Thankfully my partner and I are becoming location independent in 4.5 weeks, so we’ll have plenty of time to travel and focus on gaining experiences, not stuff.
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