Financista Fundamental #4: Waste Not, Want Not

Growing up, my grade school's computer lab featured some of those second generation computers, with a size similar to modern day computers, but whose disks actually were floppy, and whose screens displayed a black background screen and green type with a blinking chunky green cursor. (Oh, the memories!) This was well before the days of really quality computer programming for kids, but one of the few educational games we did have was Oregon Trail. If you have never played that game, I sincerely recommend downloading the DOS version like I did (a bit suped-up from what I remember), if no other reason than to learn this lesson: Waste Not, Want Not.

I think its applicability to personal finance is pretty tangible, but I will expound anyway. It's the concept that shuns purchasing new things just for the satisfaction of ripping off the plastic wrap or driving with the air conditioning on and the windows open just to feel the breeze while staying cool. It's about common sense and being frugal. In regards to Oregon Trail, the passengers in that Conestoga Wagon used every last bit of buffalo (hunting was possibly the highlight of the game), mended their clothes, bartered, and sometimes (gasp!) went without.

I think in our personal lives, there's a lot to be learned from these pioneers if we hope to make it to our own "Oregons," i.e. financial freedom. Use what you have, make do or do without. Eat leftovers. Use scrap paper instead of post-its. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth and the lights when you leave the room. These are small things, but easy to do. Not only will your pocketbook be a bit fatter, but you'll have the satisfaction in knowing that you might have survived life out on the plains.