I have shared on numerous occasions that we put our family at financial risk with bad money decisions early in our marriage. As we start to pack for our upcoming cross-country move, I was reminded of another habit of mine that has cost us a lot of money over the years.
You see, I have a memory problem. I can remember incredibly obscure facts and figures from all of my years of schooling. I can retrieve historical vignettes to bolster arguments about politics. I can remember and name almost my entire kindergarten class even though I have not see most of them in 20 years. You do not want to challenge me at Jeopardy.
But I can’t remember anything that is stored in a drawer or tool box.
Out of site, out of mind – I have no “object permanence”. The problem usually manifests itself when using tools, but can also be an issue in the kitchen or when working on my computer. I get into a project and then realize that I need a particular implement. Instead of remembering that I had that particular tool last time I did the project, I immediately drive to Ace or Menards and purchase what I have. Sometimes I suspect that I once owned a medium pipe wrench or wire stripper or 3″ paintbrush and I search for the item in vain. Eventually, I give up and head to the store to get what I need.
I have duplicates of almost all of the normal tools that one uses around the house. Not because I wear them out or because the neighbor borrowed them, but because I forget that I already own it and then buy another. I think this habit has cost me close to $500 over the years.
How can I avoid further expense as a result of this problem? Here a few strategies:
Make a list of everything you own. Alphabetize it. Put it in Excel.
Don’t use drawers, leave everything out where you can see it. I am a big fan of little piles of things everywhere. Mrs. Rocket is not a fan of little piles.
Use a logical organizational system – and write it down. Just don’t lose the list.
Keep your junk neat.
Leave your credit card next to the tool that you are going to need. That way you can’t go out and buy something that you already have.
Put items in places where “You are sure to remember”. Never worked for me, but maybe you’ll have better luck.
Tell your five year old where everything is, especially particularly dangerous tools. She will have no problem remembering. “Here’s your Sawsall, Daddy. When you are done, I’ll find the router!”
Do you have any habits that consistently cause you to spend more money that you should?