I'm not sure this is even a rule per se-- it's more about a certain personality trait I think some people have that helps save money, and it might not be a rule you could follow otherwise. But it's worth trying!
- Be interested in everything.
- Let yourself think about nothing.
I started to think about this rule during a trip to Coney Island on the last gorgeous weekend of summer. From the minute the subway train went above ground, I was glued to the window. There are so many interesting things to look at from an elevated train-- you see interesting architectural details on buildings, and brick walls painted with advertisements from bygone days. You can see teams playing sports when you pass school fields. You can see the changing ethnic mix of each neighborhood you go through. You can see new buildings sprouting up where there were none before and watch their progress. I'm sure not everyone finds this interesting, but I do.
Then at the beach, as the afternoon went by and the already sparse post-Labor Day crowds started to thin out even more, I was looking around at the little clusters of people. Some were chatting with friends, but like me, a lot of people were there by themselves, reading or listening to music, sometimes taking a dip in the water... But what people were most often doing was just sitting and looking out at the waves, watching the sailboats, motor boats, tankers and cruise ships passing by. It's one of the reasons I love the beach. I can't think of any place that seems to allow so many people to feel completely relaxed and at peace just doing nothing.
What I am getting at is that sometimes we spend a lot of money just because we're bored. We need stimulation-- books, movies, video games, sudoku, hundreds of channels of TV, nightclubs, exercise classes, new clothes, new cars, new homes. So much of what we spend money on involves entertainment, going out with friends, and change just for the sake of change. Look at all those people waiting in line for the Playstation 3! And yet there is so much around us that is free to enjoy. Do you ever just sit and think? Do you ever just take a walk to see what's on a street where you've never been? I'm not saying that is the only thing anyone should ever do, but did you ever stop to think about what you do to stave off boredom, and how much money it costs you? Approach life with a mind that is open to the little details, and also relaxed enough to sometimes just peacefully think of nothing. After all, "nothing is free." How true that is, in more ways than one.