Take a look around your home. How many books do you own that you still haven’t read? Do you have unused workout equipment or a brand-new yoga mat still in its package, tucked away under your bed? What about the art supplies in the back of your closet, or the guitar gathering dust in the spare room?

Aspirational spending is the thought that says, “If I buy the stuff, then the skills, or the fun, or the adventure will follow.” Unfortunately, the reality is the opposite – when we spend on “stuff,” we use up the money that could have been put toward our actual goals.

It’s spending that reflects what we want to do or who we want to be at some unspecified point in our future. The dangerous quality of aspirational spending is that it often feels virtuous.

One way to avoid aspirational spending is to make mindful cost or benefit assessments before committing to the expense:

  • How often will you use the item?
  • Are you paying for features you don’t need or want or use?
  • Is there a less expensive comparable option?
  • Are you buying to service a current need or a future desire?
  • Does the item fit into the life you live or some “dream” lifestyle?
  • Can you live without it?

By making sure your purchases reflect your actual day-to-day habits rather than some dream lifestyle you don’t actually live, you can funnel the money that would have been wasted on out-of-sync spending into savings, which can help you to attain financial freedom.

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