How did I change my financial mindset?

How did I change my financial mindset?

My financial mindset has changed over the years. Growing up and always having some kind of income since I was about 10 years old definitely gave me a good work ethic. It also gave me a lot of spending money because as a kid I had no financial obligations.  Because of this abundance of spending money, my financial mindset started off terrible. I had no problem buying myself comic books every week or snacks at the corner store. This all lead to probably an excessive spending habit in my later teenage years when I discovered paintball.  After playing twice when I was 12 or 13 I went out and spent $400 dollars on an entry level gun and mask.  After a few more times, I upgraded my mask to a thermal lense and started to spend more and more on gear.  This grew over my teenage years to having 5-6 paintball guns at any given time and countless accessories. 

financial mindset

This, small co2 tank and mask cost me $400 in 1996. Similar set ups are $1-200 now and much better!

At one point, I bought a used gun from the USA for almost $2000 CAD. Needless to say, my financial mindset was terrible. My spending was getting out of hand and I didn’t know it.  These spending habits may have been sustainable if I never moved out of my parents’ house, but I did.

I moved out

At 19 I moved to a bigger city 450km from home for university, and of course I went out and bought a bunch of cool stuff for my new apartment that I shared with some friends. We had a 32”(That was large for the time) TV with surround sound and lots of gaming systems. My bank account was quickly falling and I only had a few shifts a week at a campus bar to replenish my money. My financial mindset had to change.

Luckily I was smart enough to realize that something needed to change and it needed to happen fast. I started to curb my excessive spending, only buying the necessary items groceries, utilities, etc. I’d budget a little bit each week for entertainment/social activities but with my job at a bar, I was busy most weekend nights. Working at the campus bar allowed me to socialize a little, kept me from spending money on nights out and I got paid while doing it.

Seeing the double benefit to that job I started to look at other ways of cutting costs. Eventually I stopped paying for cable. When Netflix was a mail-order rental business I’d sign up for the free trials and copy as many movies/TV shows as I could. I’d constantly compare unit costs of items I’d buy and if I could I’d always get the cheaper bulk products.

Now after years of trying to change my financial mindset to be as frugal as possible, I’m now a reasonably successful adult…

I now make a good salary, but I still live well below my means. I’m on track this year to save over half my base salary. I certainly have a few luxuries I don’t need, like my vehicle. But my frugal financial mindset is pretty well ingrained in my head. It’s gotten to a point now where sometimes I feel the need to convince myself to go ahead and spend a little money to enjoy things.

For example, just earlier this week I was grocery shopping and comparing the unit cost of French fries. There was a bulk bag of seasoned potato wedges I really enjoy for $0.55/100g but there was also a no name bag of shoestring fries on sale for $0.20/100g. WAY CHEAPER! Is what I thought, no way I’m paying twice as much for a little flavor…but then my internal dialog basically yelled “it’s not even $2 dollars in the difference!…maybe a few cents per meal! Enjoy your food!”  

Changing your financial mindset isn’t always easy…

A frugal financial mindset requires lots of thought and planning coupled with a lot of self control if you’re currently an impulsive shopper like I can be. It took me years to adjust my spending habits to where they are now. I’m trying to stay disciplined because I’ve seen so many people lose their jobs in Alberta these past few years I never know if I’ll be next.  It is nice to treat yourself sometimes though!

What kind of financial mindset do you guys have? Are you more on the frugal side? Do you think you’re well balanced? Or are you impulsive and careless? Let me know!


  • I am a lot less frugal than I was in my 20’s & 30’s (currently in my early 40’s). I’ve learned a lot about waste by buying cheap (and therefore usually inexpensive) items – especially food. I used to buy all the no-name brand grocery items just to save a little, but only to have it all go to waste! I discovered that although I was saving money on the purchase, I was actually wasting money because I wasn’t actually eating what I had purchased. Same goes for buying cheap (again, inexpensive) household items. I ended up buying more because whatever I purchased didn’t go the extra mile – cleaning products, paint etc. I have a new philosophy now. If I know I like it and feel it’s a good product, I’ll buy it – even if there are similar brands that are less expensive, because I know that it will not go to waste.

    • Being frugal isn’t necessarily buying the cheapest items. It’s buying the best value.
      Stephen recently posted…Year end update – Q4 2016My Profile

      • Agreed – I’ve learned (and still learning) to find the right price for the items that I prefer by price matching (it’s amazing how many people don’t do that) and watching flyers before AND after making a purchase. This past Christmas, I bought most of my kids Christmas gifts around the end of November & held on to the receipts. Each week that lead up to Christmas, I checked the flyer to see if anything that I bought went on sale. The policy of the store was that you could be refunded the difference if the price was lower within 30 days of purchase. I have 2 children and 80% of the items that I bought them went on sale after purchasing. I saved a lot of money & was able to get what my kids were asking for because I shopped so early!

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