A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how helpful a shopping list can be when you want to save time and money. I’m a firm believer in lists. I compile pro and con lists when I have to make a decision, I keep lists of places I need to go for errands, and I keep a Christmas list as gift ideas for other people occur to me throughout the year. All my lists save me time and money and keep me organized. But besides the shopping list, no list saves me more money than the “Want List.”
I don’t have enough money to buy all the things I need and want when I want them. I have to prioritize: Needs first, then wants from whatever money is left. But, like anyone else, I sometimes get frustrated when I want something and can’t afford it right then. I think I’ll forget about it or that it won’t be there when I can finally buy it. Sometimes when I do have money to “blow” I get confused by all the things I could do with it. Enter the Want List.
As I see things I think I want, I write them down on the want list. It can be anything not necessary like a CD, a DVD, a video game, a bedding set, or a book. I make a note of the title, author, price, where I saw it, and any other identifying information or descriptions that will make it easier to track down later. I might print out a web page if it helps. Then I file the list away and forget about it. When I have some extra spending money, I pull out the list. A lot of times I look at the list and think, “Why did I want that?” for half of the stuff. Some of it I think, “I don’t even remember wanting that.” Anything that I no longer want or that I can’t remember why I wanted it, I cross off the list. That removes a good number of items. Then I look at what’s left more carefully. Anything that’s been on there a long time receives first consideration. If it’s been on the list a while, it’s probably survived a few cuts and remains a definite want. The great thing about the older items is that, by the time I get around to buying them, I can usually find them on sale, at a reduced price, or even on the used market. The longer you wait for most stuff the cheaper it becomes. (This happened with the Wii. It was on my want list for two years. When I finally bought it, the price had come down to $199 and many games were cheaper or available used.)
The beauty of the list is that it keeps me from feeling deprived when I can’t just buy something at the moment that I first want it. I don’t leave the store with a feeling of, “I’ll never get that.” I leave the store with a feeling of, “I’ll add it to the list and get it later.” That’s more positive than just feeling like I can’t have something. The other great thing about the list is that it acts as a waiting period. When you wait to buy things you often find that, once the initial high has passed, you no longer want the item. This happens to me about sixty percent of the time. The things that remain on the list are true wants and when I finally get them they are more appreciated. If I bought everything I thought I wanted the moment I saw it, I’d be awash in clutter and useless junk. And broke. By waiting to see what truly rises to the top of the want list, I save a ton of money and space in my home.