Create vs. Consume: How to Change Your Mindset and Start Saving Money

published Apr 30, 2017
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(Image credit: William Strawser)

When you’re bored at home or feeling stuck in a rut, what’s one of the first things that pops into your mind to fix that situation? I’m willing to bet you’re tempted to slip into some shoes and head out the door to a restaurant you saw in the paper, or out to a movie with your friends. But that requires money and when you’re constantly consuming, your bank accounts start to feel the effects.

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But that doesn’t mean you’re banished to weeks on-end stuck in the house because you want to give your savings a fighting chance – instead you can give creating rather than consuming a try.

When You Create Instead of Consume, You’re Saving Money

For example, try out a fun new recipe at home instead of paying for a two-course meal in town. Pick up a hobby instead of filling your time with shopping, or find creative but frugal ways to spend time with those that you love. If you can train your brain to first think of ways to create rather than consume during your downtime, not only will you see your spending habits a chance, but also see your bank balance shift. It’s worth the try! Here are some ideas on where to start.

Make Cooking More Fun

If you love putting on an apron and whipping up something new in the kitchen, then awesome, this option is a no-brainer for you. But if you’re like me and tend to turn your ignored stove into a sweater closet during the winter months, then it might seem like a chore to trade in your evening for a cooking session. But it doesn’t have to be that way – try to make it more fun! Invite your friend over to keep you company, or if no one is available try out a fun new podcast. Treat yourself to a fancy cocktail recipe in the beginning to make the habit a little more special (this Blood-orange Elderflower Gin cocktail is great!) Try a recipe that sounds impressive and will pack a lot of flavor – but isn’t so advanced you’ll be tipping it into the waste bin. Basically, make your cooking session feel a little more fun, and it will turn out to be.

Turn TV Watching Into A Friendly Affair

If you have a TV show you love to slob out in front of, make it more of an event by inviting a friend over every week to binge with. Mugs of hot chocolate or glasses of Prosecco can be involved, as can cozy blankets, leftover junk food from the cupboards, and hilarious commentary and long chats in between buffering times. It’s a simple activity, but if you make it feel like more of an “event” (bringing out extra pillows and blankets, creating a hot chocolate bar on the coffee table), it’ll feel like something to look forward to.

Stock Up On Books

Have you always wanted to learn more about a certain topic? Have you been meaning to brush up on politics, fashion history, biographies on Zelda Fitzgerald or Jimi Hendrix? Awesome, this can be your go-to thing when you feel a twinge of boredom. Rather than going out for drinks or shopping, grab a book and dive into your topic of choice – that way every time you feel bored, you can train yourself into seeing it as an educating moment. Feel free to slip into a bath, make a cup of tea in a favorite mug, or put on a face mask while doing this so it feels more pampering. But if brushing up on an interesting topic is your go-to for not spending money, then that’s a pretty great substitute.

Have Some DIYs Handy

There’s something satisfying about getting your hands on some paint or thread and creating something brilliant with just your imagination and determination. So stock up on some DIYs for some of those duller afternoons. If you’re good with sewing, pick out some dated dresses from thrift stores you can transform. If you like home décor, pick out an old nightstand from Goodwill and give it new life with some sanding and paint. If you like the outdoors, lace up your sneakers, put on a podcast, and walk through neighborhoods as you listen to the show. Just have some of these projects (and shows) stock-piled so they’re ready for you to jump into.

Create A Procrastination List

There are certain things that we all need to be doing, but we put off for some reason or other. Whether they’re goal orientated, personal-growth geared, or revolve around small errands or to-dos, chances are we each can list at least five things we need to jump into but haven’t the motivation to start. For moments of boredom, have that list ready. Literally start a list – write down at least 10 things you wish you can do when “you have more time.” Tape it to your bedroom wall, and when you find yourself bored and dying to do something, tackle something on the list. Hold yourself accountable!

Plan Future Adventures

We like to fill ruts with things like restaurant visits and shopping sprees because they make us feel a little more alive – like we’ve broken out of our routine. But instead of putting a crimp in your savings plan, try leaving your wallet alone and instead sit down to plan for something that really can get you out of a lull: A trip.

Even if it’s just finding stuff to do in your own town – researching fun neighborhoods to explore, creating a list of cafes you can work on side-projects in, making a map of wall murals to visit – spend your moments of downtime planning for what you can do on the weekends. If you’ve been meaning to take a vacation that year, increase the ante by planning a full blown trip. Look at exotic countries and historic towns, map out sights you’d like to see, walks you’d like to take, restaurants you’d like to eat in – and even though you’re not on an adventure right that moment, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing soon you will be.