Letting Go: How Being a Control Freak Costs You Money

I’m something of a planner. I can’t help it – I always like to make plans for the future. I fill up my calendar with all sorts of little details and I’m always making lists.

My mother does the same thing, actually. She’s constantly making lists and jotting down notes. She’s always been the person that handled the paperwork and did all of the trip planning when I was growing up.

When I was younger, there were times when my strong tendency to make specific plans would get completely out of control. I’d freak out if things didn’t go exactly according to my plans.

As I grew older, I began to see how time and time again, that controlling nature would cost me time and money. My meticulous meal plans would result in a hefty grocery store bill – and when something went wrong, we were often relegated to going out to a restaurant. I’d write far-too-long lists to help me pack for trips – then inevitably forget something that was actually important, necessitating a trip to a department store. Not only that, my controlling nature continually increased my stress level, making it much easier for me to get ill.

Thus, I’ve focused on backing off on my controlling nature, back to a healthy balance of being aware and observant about what’s going on. Not only does this help me reduce my own stress, adopting less controlling tactics saves us money time and time again.

Here are four specific things you can do to cut down on the need for exact planning – and save yourself some money in the process.

Buy more staple foods and less esoteric foods. Fill your cupboards with items that can be used in lots of meals – pasta, rice, basic spices, tomato sauce, and so forth. At the same time, avoid regularly buying items that can’t be used in as many dishes.

How does this help? If you have lots of “staple foods” on hand, it becomes very easy to throw together a low-cost meal in a pinch. Plus, if you attend events like farmer’s markets, you can simply choose the ingredients that seem to be a good bargain, knowing that there’s something you can prepare with the staples in your cupboard.

Make most of your financial transactions automatic. Utilize the online features of your bank and automate as many of your bills as you possibly can. Beyond that, you can also automate savings and investing plans.

How does this help? You don’t have to go into panic mode around bill paying time any more – if something comes up, you don’t have to sweat about whether or not the mortgage will get paid. Instead, most of your bills are simply paid automatically without worry.

Keep a standard travel bag ready to go. This works like a charm for me. Just keep a bag with the essentials you actually need for a trip packed in the closet. My bag includes basic toiletries, three days’ worth of clean clothes, and similar items for my kids. I re-pack this bag immediately after trips.

How does this help? Having this bag ready at all times means I won’t forget something truly important on a trip. Also, the knowledge that this bag is ready keeps me from stressing out too much about preparing for a trip.

Perform regular maintenance on your appliances and equipment. Whenever you get a new appliance or piece of equipment, take a look at the maintenance schedule and tasks that are recommended and add them to your calendar. Keep up with these tasks and you’ll ensure that your items have a much longer lifetime.

How does this help? I tend to get very frustrated when something breaks down because it throws my plans out of whack. The lawnmower’s broken? Not only do I have some costs in repairing it, I’m also throwing time away in the repair process and my plans for the afternoon are completely altered. If I have a regular maintenance schedule, these frustrations happen much less often – plus my items have a much longer life span. Both of these factors save me money.

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