Make More or Spend Less?

November 2, 2015 - Max Osbon (4 mins to read)

There are two camps of thought when it comes to spending. The first is: Earn more than you spend. If you identify with the first, this article isn’t for you. The second is: Spend less than you make. Follow this second mantra and so many good things happen. But how? Here’s where to start and what to ignore when it comes to your personal expenses.


There are a plenty of apps available that track spending, like Mint. They seem helpful, with alerts, auto-budgeting and spending categories. However they’re more likely to make you feel bad than fix your spending habits. I’ve seen people lie over and over to their apps by making purchases in cash to avoid the stern spending notifications: “You spent too much on clothing and coffee!” Generally people end up ignoring or deleting them. I suggest you do the latter. There is a better way.

You Are a Business – Use Your Income Statement

We use QuickBooks Online Essentials to run Osbon Capital. We also use it to run our family income and expense ledger. It links with every banking institution to automatically pull in all transactions. When you first get started it will pull your last 90 days of transactions. As you sort through them (plan for 2 hours), you may discover a surprising number of unused recurring payments like an old 1990’s AOL dialup(!?) account or stray sneaky fraudulent purchases. It’s too much to think about without a central database. It happens to nearly everyone and it’s probably happening to you right now.

Once you’re all set up you’ll see a real bottom line — a monthly personal income statement. Offer to Osbon Capital clients: we’ll do the setup, download and sorting with you – just ask.

Mental Math

Why bother with an online system and personal income statement? Can’t you just eyeball your credit card statement? Not likely. Chances are you have somewhere in the range of five credit cards, two banking relationships with checking and savings accounts, automatic mortgage and utility payments, checks flowing in both directions, etc. You are more complex than you think; mental math just isn’t going to cut it. QuickBooks sorts it all out and shows where you really stand, month by month. You do it for your company. Do it for yourself, too.

Real Life Example: Watch and Earn

Here’s a recent real client example. This client was spending $35,000 per month. For what? When they couldn’t answer the question, we knew it was time for the Osbon Audit Experience. Three months later they are spending less than $20k per month, with no change in lifestyle, and are much happier. Why? Because they have an extra $15k per month or $180k per year to invest, save or spend on something they really care about.

You, too, may find that once you see your true bottom line on your personal income statement, you can start making changes that better align your expenses to your personal and family priorities. What did you spend last month? How much went to food and housing versus extras like excess clothing, gadgets or online impulse buys? For that month, did you get your money’s worth of happiness, personal growth, experience, adventure or safety? Or are you spending $35k to get $20k of value? You decide.

You may find after a simple review of your actual spending habits, you can cut an easy $5K in unnecessary spending per month. $5K/month = $60K/year. Or $600K over 10 years, enough to send three of your kids or grandkids through full college tuition. Invest it and it could even reach $1M. That’s real value.

Bonus Points: Put Your Money Where Your Memories Are

How much are you spending on stuff versus experiences? Researchers find that happiness lasts longer when you spend on experiences compared to material goods. You’re much more likely to remember and treasure a family trip to Vancouver, a Superbowl adventure, or a front row concert experience than new cabinets in the garage. Spend, or don’t, accordingly.

PS: Another Bonus: Try This With The Kids

Trick your kids into smart habits. Do what my friend does the next time one of the kids feels a strong shopping urge coming on. When she feels like binge shopping she goes to, adds every single item she could want to buy regardless of the price to her cart, and then closes the browser and moves on without making a single purchase. She gets the shopping high for free with more money left over at the end for other things. I recommend trying it!

Max Osbon –


Weekly Insights

delivered to your inbox


This communication may include forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements (including words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “may,” “will,” “should,” and “expect”). Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Various factors could cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements.”

“Historical performance is not indicative of future results. The investment return will fluctuate with market conditions.

Past performance is not indicative of any specific investment or future results. Views regarding the economy, securities markets or other specialized areas, like all predictors of future events, cannot be guaranteed to be accurate and may result in economic loss to the investor.

Investment strategies, philosophies, allocations and holdings are subject to change without prior notice.

This communication is intended to provide general information only and should not be construed as an offer of specifically tailored individualized advice.

While the Adviser believes the outside data sources cited to be credible, it has not independently verified the correctness of any of their inputs or calculations and, therefore, does not warranty the accuracy of any third-party sources or information.

Adviser does not endorse the statements, services or performance of any third-party vendor.

Unless stated otherwise, any mention of specific securities or investments is for hypothetical and illustrative purposes only. Adviser’s clients may or may not hold the securities discussed in their portfolios. Adviser makes no representations that any of the securities discussed have been or will be profitable.

Any IPO alerts are purely informational and should not be construed as recommendations to invest.

Adviser is not licensed to provide and does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice to clients. Advice of qualified counsel or accountant should be sought to address any specific situation requiring assistance from such licensed individuals.

Any case studies or hypothetical client profiles are for demonstration purposes only. They illustrate the breadth and depth of the many clients we represent at various life stages. Any similarities to actual Adviser’s clients past or present are strictly coincidental. Individual advice and results will vary based on each client’s circumstances, objectives and prevailing economic conditions.

Weekly Articles by Osbon Capital Management: