Thursday, February 27, 2014

Habit #3: Put First Things First

So what is the best strategy to use when "Beginning with the End in Mind?" How do you know where to begin? How do you know that you will end up achieving your goal with the steps you might think are the ones to take? Quite simply, we can answer that question by looking ahead to the third (and final) habit of the first three Habits of Highly Effective People.

Just to reiterate, the first three habits are focused on the self as well as time management. These are also habits that can carry over to our spending patterns as well. The third of these three habits is "Put First Things First." Prioritize. List. Pick out the essentials and work towards the non-essentials. By using this method of pick and choose, we can get better use out of our time (and money).

In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Steven Covey illustrates how this point works by using rocks. It goes like this: Get a bucket, collect rocks of different sizes, dropping each one into the bucket.  When the bucket is full, dump out the rocks. Now try putting the rocks back in. They won't all fit. Now try it again, only this time, start with the biggest rocks, and add smaller and smaller rocks until you're down to the pebbles. They all fit. If you put in the big items first, the smaller items will fill in the gaps between the bigger ones. But if you try putting in the rocks at random, there won't be enough room for them all to fit, even though they fit as you filled the bucket.

So, what are your big rocks? What are your small rocks? For me and my Fun Dollars this pay cycle, the big rocks were items that completed existing outfits. One of the biggest items on my big rock list was a new bra. I knew that no matter how put together my wardrobe ended up looking, I would still look frumpy in my saggy old nursing bras that no longer fit me. I needed to take care of the shape underneath the clothes before buying anything else new. So that found me at  Victoria's Secret for my first stop on my shopping day. Very judiciously, I tried on about seven different styles and sizes of bras. I finally found one that worked for what I needed and proudly presented my $10.00 off coupon I received in the mail for my birthday. $36.00 later, I felt like a new woman.

From top to bottom, I needed a new pair of pajama pants. This might not sound like a "big rock" to you, but for someone who has been sleeping in pajama pants two sizes too big, having a pair that fit my new figure made all the difference in the world. all but one pair of pajama pants I owned were from when I was pregnant, so I had to cinch up the drawstring a ridiculous amount, making the pants bunchy and frumpy. I have worked too hard to get my figure back to be frumpy at all, even lounging around the house at bedtime. That's when my husband sees me the most. I wanted to feel more put together than those pants looked. I knew that now is the optimal time to find cheap-but-cute pajama pants on clearance at a place called Old Navy. Sure enough, $7.00 later, I was the proud owner of pink plaid pajama pants that say, "I'm 32 years old, and I can still rock pink!"

The stop I made that day was at Target. I intended to only get essential non-food grocery items (toilet paper, zip loc bags, etc.) As I strolled through the aisles, enjoying the last bits of shopping day, I found myself in the shoe section and face to face with a delicious pair of silver flip flips. They even had rhinestones down the straps. Being the proactive shopper I was hoping to write about, I snatched up a pair of size 7. Why wait till spring? Having the right shoes to rock the summer wardrobe I wanted to build was the finishing touch. Without the right shoes, it didn't matter how awesome my clothing looks. The shoes complete the outfit. These were the shoes I needed to rock out all summer long. I happily spent $15.00 Fun Dollars (which is the most I have spent on a pair of flip flops that weren't for a wedding) on the silver pair.

And last but not least, I deferred to my wish list before leaving the store. The Starbucks near the entrance/exit had on display the perfect travel mug. At long last, I could now carry my coffee with me as I bolt out the door. Like the flip flops, it was more than I would have normally spent on a travel mug, but after looking online, and at every store I went to that day, I was satisfied with my decision. It did not feel reactive at all. It was more like love at first sight. When you know, you know....ya know? So sophisticated Starbucks mug cost me $13.00 Fun Dollars.

And maybe I'm over thinking it, and maybe I am just reacting to turning 32, but with each of these purchases, I thought to myself, "Is this something a 32-year-old would own?" And my answer was, "This 32-year-old will own it and rock it!"

You see, everything we purchase is a personal reflection. It mirrors something inside of us that we want to project into the world around us. That's also why I wanted to take some time to write about how the first three habits of highly effective people applies to spending. I want to be effective with my Fun Dollars. I want them to not only work for me at creating my personal projection, but I also want to support businesses and people that I think are worthy of my money. I want to slow down a little bit and really examine why and how I spend my Fun Dollars, and this is just one avenue for that. 

Bra at Victoria's Secret- $36.00
Pajama Pants at Old Navy- $7.00
Flip flops at Target- $15.00
Travel mug from Starbucks-$13.00

Balance this pay cycle- $4.00

Happy Spending!

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