Are you wasting money? What would you buy if it cost you part of your life to purchase it? Would you buy worthless things? Would you invest your money if your life depended on it?
In 2011, there was a movie that didn't do incredibly well at the box office called "In Time" starring Justin Timberlake. I won't give away any plot twists from the movie, but the basic plot was that the amount of time that you had to live had become currency.
The movie is accurate in one very important aspect, what you spend costs you part of your life and the working poor characters at the beginning of the movie are very concerned about wasting money (or time in their case). The money that you earn is given to you in return for the time you spend working. Sure, your expertise and skill are the reason that you may make more or less than another person. However, the application of that skill or expertise over time is how you earn the money.
So if the old saying is true that "Time is money" then the money you spend is some of your time. Since you are not given more time in your life (unlike the above movie), every purchase you make costs you some amount of your precious time to create the wealth that funds that purchase. That’s what opportunity costs are all about – giving up something in return for something else that we find valuable. When you are wasting money on something that is not important, you are essentially wasting part of your precious time and wasting your life creating that money.
Your wages are an exchange for the time and expertise you committed to your job. Put simply, you were paid money for a portion of your life. The money you spend represents the hours of your life that you sacrificed to earn that income.
With that in mind, shouldn't you spend every dollar knowing that it represents a small portion of your life? Shouldn't you stop wasting money since it is the same thing as wasting away part of your life?
If you earn $40,000 a year, your hourly income is about $20 before tax. Before you commit to spending any of those dollars, ask yourself, “Is this purchase worth the hour of my life I gave up?”