The next time we go out to eat, we’ll get $20 off our meal just because we have a habit of making reservations.
We use OpenTable to book spots at restaurants when we plan to eat out. Even if we know we’ll get somewhere at a slow time when there won’t be a wait, like 3pm on a Wednesday, we use the app to make a reservation.
Why? Because after you eat at the spot you made the reservation at, you can earn points from OpenTable.
Typically, it’s 100 points for every reservation. Once you earn 2,000 points, you get $20 to spend at the next place you book a table.
Do we get $20 off our meals every other week? Nope.
Some simple math will tell you it takes dining out 20 times to get that $20 reward… and as much as we love restaurants in Boston, it takes us a while to hit the points required to receive our $20 off.
But still, $20 is $20 — and this is just one example of how you can, with very little (if not zero) effort, get more for your money for purchases you were going to make anyway.
No, Cutting Lattes (or Coupons) Won’t Make You Rich… But It’s Not Pointless, Either
The fact that OpenTable will send you $20 to use at a favorite restaurant just because you used their system to make reservations that you planned to make anyway is like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk every few months.
Would you stop and pick that $20 up? Sure. So why not leverage opportunities like this to make your money go farther?
The point here is not that this is going to seriously save us money. It’s definitely not the path to wealth.
We’ll still likely spend $50 when we use our coupon, because a dinner for two, with the tip, easily totals $70-$75 when you’re dining downtown.
We’re definitely still spending… just a little less.
That’s the real point: If you can find very simple, effortless ways to spend less on the things you plan to buy, why not take advantage?
Especially if you can find lots of these little opportunities, then you give yourself a chance to spend a lot less over time.
I don’t think it makes sense to spend hours clipping coupons. But if you can spend 5 seconds to sign up for an email list that alerts you to free events you can go to instead of paid entertainment? Done. Do it.
Similarly, if you get a chance to spend a little less… well, why not? You can do things like:
- Travel lighter to avoid a $25 baggage fee, skip the airport food and save $15, and bring a book instead of paying for the $25 WiFi on the plane. Very easy, very straightforward, and a way to quickly save $65 on a leg of your travels.
- Literally everything we listed in this guide to living well, in an expensive city like Boston, without busting our budget.
- Following the oft-cited (and probably universally hated at this point) advice to pack your lunch or brew your own coffee at home. There’s no getting around the fact it is a simple way to cut back. This doesn’t mean you never enjoy a latte ever again in your life. It just means make it a treat instead of making it something you do constantly.
If you get a chance to spend less, jump on it. If you can easily cut back in an area without feeling like you’ve lost something critical to your well-being (a la not getting the $4 coffee every single day).
Do this in all your spending categories, and you might find paying attention to the details adds up to a lot of money freed up each month that you can then dedicate to investing to grow real wealth.
There’s a Difference Between Being Cheap and Being Mindful
I’m not saying become cheap or even frugal. We certainly aren’t.
But we do pay attention to the little things and we don’t bother buying what costs more than the value it provides.
Let’s be real: when is the last time you mindfully savored every sip of your morning coffee? Maybe… never, because it’s just part of your routine and you might not truly notice it.
Noticing things is really all we’re doing here. Noticing when we have a chance to spend less. Noticing when we could spend on this instead of that, and be happier for it.
Just pay attention. Question things. If an opportunity comes your way to save more or spend less, don’t just ignore it. Leverage it to get more of what really matters to you.
Consider this: what if you switched it up and got your absolute favorite order from the best coffee shop twice a week instead of trudging in daily?
You might find that A. you cut back on some spending and, more importantly, B., you actually enjoy it more too. It becomes something where you get more value for the cost… instead of ending up with something where the cost exceeds the value you get.
Paying for a lot of luxury and VIP brands, experiences, and products is one such example of cost exceeding value– and this is especially true if this is for something you use every day (because, again, you get used to it, the novelty wears off, and then what used to be luxury just becomes normal).
Anytime you experience buyer’s remorse is a good indicator, too. When this happens, you might want to take a hard look at where your money goes when you feel that way.
All this being said, I don’t believe in spending less just for the sake of spending less. Even saving more for the sake of saving more doesn’t work!
Money provides us with an awesome tool to live fully and freely. Yet so often we either A. ignore the tool or B. abuse it/use it carelessly and miss out on its full potential.
We want to be more mindful with our money so that we can put it to better use. To be smarter, more strategic, and more effective at building serious wealth.
The point of paying attention is to better use the tools available to us.
The Power of Freeing Up Money in Your Cash Flow
Let’s say you follow this advice and you spend a little less here and there… and actually end up with a few hundred bucks of extra cash at the end of every month.
This is where you can go from minding the details to making a seriously big impact with your finances.
Take that extra $200 or $300 and invest it. Let it sit in the market for the next 30 years and go to work for you. Let a little extra leverage turn into serious wealth over time.
Boosting your net worth doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s simple — but not easy. The hard thing is getting in the habit of noticing, of taking the small actions consistently over time without getting distracted or giving up.
The hard thing is building mindfulness and awareness around your money. But once you build that muscle and can flex it to better use money as a tool, you’re well on your way to a whole lot of choice, flexibility, and freedom in your life.