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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thinking outside the box

At one point during college I took a basic psychology class, and during one of the rare moments that I was actually awake, the teacher explained the term 'functional fixedness'.  This is simply when a person is unable to envision a use for something beyond what it was expressly designed to do. Because of this people end up buying all sorts of stuff that basically doesn't accomplish anything that they can't already do with the things they have. The result is more money spent on useless crap which fills your house and separates you from financial independence.

The example the professor gave is somebody needing to tighten a flathead screw, and spending half an hour looking for a screwdriver, when they could have used any number of things to tighten the screw; a penny, a butter knife, other tools like a putty knife/chisel, an old credit card maybe, etc.

Now I recommend having a decent set of tools, but you get the point. How much money is unnecessarily spent to accomplish things that you can do with the items you already have?

Another example of this principle is when people buy things that are needlessly specific in their use Or feel like they have to use it for what it is labeled and nothing else. For instance, next time you are in the store, check the prices on antibacterial hand soap for washing your hands. Now check the prices of antibacterial dish soap. Hmmm. Who says you can't use dish soap to wash your hands?

This can be applied to any number of things. Why buy a dedicated potholder? all it is is a mitten, or many times even a square piece of cloth. Just use a small towel, washcloth, even a sock. Why buy a letter opener when you can use ANYTHING else. Do you really need a special scoop for your dog food, or can you use an empty vegetable can?

Each one of these examples may only represent a small savings, but consider that most people, instead of improvising, make purchases in these situations, day after day for their entire lives. That adds up to some serious coin.

-The Money Monk

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