The Simple Mental Model That Changed My Financial Life

4 min readFeb 20, 2023


When it comes to spending money, I’ve made so many mistakes. When I think about the amount of money I’ve wasted in the past, I feel bad in my stomach. I didn’t have the best mental model for my financial life back then.

As someone who practices Stoicism and Mindfulness, I don’t get attached to those feelings. But still, it does hurt a little bit.

For instance, I think I bought a new winter jacket almost every year until four or five years ago when I finally decided to spend a grand on a high-quality jacket.

I spent probably twice as much in the ten prior years. But now that I have a great (and warm) winter parka, I don’t even think about getting a new one. So I’m not spending any more money. I’m also not spending time and energy on finding new jackets.

I call this way of looking at the world, or mental model, “Save time and money by spending well.”

In most languages, there’s a saying that captures that philosophy. In The Netherlands, they say, “Buying cheap is expensive.” But this is not only true for buying things.

In this article, I will share personal examples of my life where I applied this mental model and how it changed my life financially.


I can’t stand traveling. I honestly get so annoyed when I’m in airports, on planes, on trains, or standing in line anywhere.

But at the same time, I do like to go on vacation or visit nice places in the world.

And I do it in a very distinct (and weird) way. I have a bunch of made up rules around traveling. For example, I avoid airports at all costs during the summer holiday. I just don’t want to be anywhere close to an airport during holidays. Not worth it.

Also, no vacation package deals for me. You know, those package deals some airlines offer that include a plane ticket, shuttle, and hotel. I went to many of those when I was young, and I’ve had enough.

In short, I do everything I can to avoid busy periods and popular destinations. Paris in August? I’d rather eat a bowl of nuts and bolts. New York City during Christmas? No thank you, I’d like to stay sane.

When I travel by plane, I book a seat right behind business class. And if I can get an upgrade upon check-in, I go for it. But I prefer to drive.

At least I don’t have to get in lines. And if I have to spend more money on travel? So what? At least I enjoy the entire experience from the moment I leave my house. To me, that’s when traveling starts.

Because I’m such a difficult person when it comes to traveling, I try not to travel a lot. I’d rather go on one great trip than a few “normal” ones.

Personal productivity

Most people in the productivity space are always interested in new apps, tools, and methods.

I’m not.

I’ve done my research years ago. In fact, I started researching productivity when I was in university, and I spent years to find a good productivity system that worked for me.

I spent time and money on books, courses, apps, tools. It was a huge investment, both time-wise and money-wise.

But now, I’m done. I no longer have to spend time and money on anything that’s related to productivity. I’m good. It was something I had to work on once, and now I simply stick to my strategy.

I don’t look at new apps or systems. The things I use work fine. Why change a winning team?

This is a good example of “Save time and money by spending well.”

When you spend well, you usually only have to spend once. So many people don’t take their productivity seriously. They don’t research it enough. They don’t take courses.

They read a few articles or a book and think that’s it. But productivity is a personal thing. You must find a system that works for you.

When you make a proper time investment, you only have to do it once. When you finally have a system that works for you, you can honestly rely on it for the rest of your life.

Focus on the big-money decisions

Look, life is short. It’s tempting to focus on quick ways you can save money.

If you save on your groceries today, you will spend less. That’s a fact. But that’s not the key to changing your finances.

The key is to adopt a way of life that helps you to get richer in the long term. Think about the big decisions you’re making.

Are they making you poorer in the long term? Or are you getting richer?

A very obvious example is leasing cars. You’re paying a huge premium today to drive that car. You could use that premium to do a million other good things.

When you focus on these types of big decisions, you will make life easier for yourself. Think about your future self. You want to make sure you’re better off in a year than now.




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