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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Multiple units of the same thing are not required

In my life, I've always hoarded my possessions. I've led a life where money was hard to come by, because I always wind up spending it on others. Even as a boy it was difficult for my friends to get me to go to the "mamak" and spend some measly sums on a Milo tarik. Yet today my world is one where I spend to satisfy my wife's desires for baby toys and household items.

Inevitably we have come to the point where we have two car seats for the baby (both gifts from friends), two baby seats (one a high chair and the other a portable chair), a sarong, a baby cot, three playmats (it started with just one), an air purifier (baby has stuck nose pretty often and apparently eucalyptus oil works wonders with this), four fans (one for the kitchen, one for the bedroom, one for my study, and one for the baby room), two strollers (one bought when he was a wee baby, the other is a "mini" skeleton stroller for 6 months onward), multiple baby bottles (my wife believes baby bottles should be discarded every two months to prevent plastic leaching), baby blender, two breast pumps (the electronic one from Medela is now malfunctioning so we're left with the manual one) and multiple toys (for developing grip, to help him understand cause-n-effect, to sing to him, for him to bite). And numerous other things that I can't think of right now.

Eventually we got all of the above because I felt bad about rejecting my wife's requests for purchases centered around our baby, rather than our individual selves. Some of the purchases may be required. But sometimes we do go overboard when we think that we will spare no expenses for the sake of our child. During pregnancy we went to three gynaecologists and one GP doctor before settling on our regular gynae. We also brought our baby to three different paediatricians for various occasions. 

Sometimes due to uncertainty we go to a different paediatrician simply to get a second opinion. Is it really necessary?

I do realise that these material things cannot compare to the welfare of my family but I am now the sole breadwinner of this house. As such my burdens are often borne alone by me. My kind parents are aware of the situation and have offered to pay for a more matured lady to stay with us and help my wife with the house cleaning. This is important because I have to buy lunch for my wife everyday as she does not cook. I am also constrained whenever she wants to sweep and mop the floor. I have to hold and entertain the baby while she goes about her chores. Sometimes I am stuck with this simple but time-consuming act in the mornings, making me late for work.

Anyway, to make the long message short, sometimes we only need one unit of a certain thing. We do not need multiple units of the same thing. Even if Groupon advertisers offer something at a 30% discount, its likely that our purchase of that thing is in impulse purchase rather than a well-planned one.
How do we distinguish a well-planned purchase against an impulse purchase? We can delay our purchases and consolidate our choices at the end of each week, eliminating unnecessary options and thus weeding out the unnecessary. When we buy things too often, like snacking, these little purchases often go unmonitored.

I've started insisting on using my credit card whenever possible. This way I can see where the money goes at the end of each month. Like Peter Drucker said, what gets measured, gets managed.

I am really hoping for some real advances in financial management in this household. But until our household income increases, our finances are going to be tight.