While the New Year rolls in, most people are thinking of resolutions or ways they want to improve themselves or their life for the upcoming year. Many want to work out more, eat healthier or volunteer more, which are all great, but what could your life really benefit from? This blog may be written to myself more than anything, but I could benefit from not spending all my money. Spending gets easy and thoughtless when you are making small transactions. It doesn’t seem like much. What’s $20, right? Well, $20 spent 5 times gets you to $100. These numbers add up faster than you think, so let’s look at some tips to break our bad spending habits.
- Leave all of the Facebook groups. Facebook has become prime real estate for direct sales and shoppers, so take away the temptation. Leave the groups and you won’t see the products to buy. If for some reason you feel you can’t leave the groups, turn off notifications and unfollow them.
- Order a new debit card. If you’re like me, you have your debit card memorized. This is a slippery slope for over-spenders. By getting a new card, you’ll get a new number. This will cause you to reach for your wallet every time you want to make a purchase, giving you more time to think through it. When you know it by heart, it only takes a few seconds to get passed the confirm order page without thinking twice.
- Find other ways to channel your energy besides shopping. Retail therapy is a real thing. So is treating yourself to something for whatever occasion may have just happened. What these really are, are excuses to rationalize our spending. The feeling you get when you buy is very real. It makes you feel better (until you look at your bank account), but find something else that will give you that “feel better” or “reward” feeling. Take your dog on a walk. Let yourself have an extra dessert. Share a dessert with your dog. Treat yourself to a movie. Take a bubble bath. There are plenty of things that will give you the same rush of energy, without breaking the bank.
- Don’t buy something just because you can return it. The return window speeds by faster than any of us ever expect it will. We all are extremely busy, but we’re also forgetful. It’s so easy to buy something, intending to return it if you don’t like it, and misplace it, or get busy at work, or go on vacation. Once it turns up again, it’s usually too late.
- Stop eating out so much. If you did only this, you would save an incredible amount of money. Make your dinner each night. Take leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Eat breakfast at home before you leave. You easily just saved yourself $30. If you’re up for more of a challenge or commitment, try meal prepping at the beginning of the week. This will let you mix up your meals during the week for more variety.
- Spend only cash. In the day and age we’re in, cash is a rare thing to come by. It’s a lot easier to spend money when you don’t see the money leaving your possession. By using cash, you have to physically give the money to someone, which helps you think more about the transaction and whether or not you really want or need to make it.
- Give yourself a weekly spending budget and stick to it. Think of this money like an allowance. Get this money in cash and use it on any purchase that isn’t absolutely necessary – gas, groceries, bills, etc. If you spend it all day one, then you are cut off for the rest of the week. This will help you watch your transactions more closely, and by implementing the use of cash you will be able to gauge how you’re doing during the week.
- When you’re tempted, do the math. Let’s say there is a beautiful designer bag that you found on sale for $150, or new sporting equipment, or computer accessories, or whatever might appeal to you. It’s on sale – hooray! Before going through with any non-essential purchases, do the math. If you get paid $15 per hour and the bag is $150, that equates to 10 hours of work just to that bag. Is it worth 10 hours of work?
- Download an app on your phone that helps you budget and keep track of expenses. This will make you more aware of the spending you’re doing, and it will help keep you on track for your weekly budget. In the same way that it hurts to see the transactions piled up on your bank statement, you will see them start to build up here – a place that you’ll check more often – causing you to rethink some purchases.
- Cancel all of your catalogs and magazines, and unsubscribe from all emails. Advertising emails are so sneaky. They get you thinking about so many things you don’t need. Blinds are on sale at Home Depot? Well, I don’t need blinds, but let’s just take a quick look. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into their website, way past the blinds, and comparing new washers and dryers. Unsubscribe and keep the temptations out of sight and out of mind.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of things you can do to help curb your spending habits. If all of them seem overwhelmingly, pick a few or even just one and go forward from there. Once you’ve mastered those, add another. Pretty soon you’ll be back to where you want to be!