For me, running errands or shopping for groceries is like an adventure. Every time I enter a store there’s always a new item on sale, which of course I never need, but yet I always end up buying. Why is it that I always fall into this trap of coming home with more items and less money? Stores can be alluring, even if you’re simply running a quick errand, but there a few steps you can take that will help you avoid overspending.
Make a List: Yes, this sounds simple, yet a lot of people don’t take this initial step when shopping. You may think to yourself, why would I need to make a list if I’m only going to pick up dryer sheets? Well, frankly, stores can be distracting. I’m telling you, those entrances and checkout aisles will get you every time. You may walk into Target or Wal-mart only needing dryer sheets, but two pairs of socks, one dvd, and a Slim Jim later you’re leaving with a lot less money and still no dryer sheets. Making a list helps you stay on task whether it be to pick up household goods or get groceries for dinner. Just remember, don’t stray from the list.
Avoid Sales Displays: I know, I know. Sales are so tempting, but do you really need a sno-cone maker in the middle of winter? Would you even be looking at a sno-cone maker if it wasn’t on sale? Sometimes you can run into some pretty good deals you’re not expecting when you hit the store, but my advice is to go back to your list. Is this item on the list? If it’s not on the list, but you’re still thinking it’s a pretty good deal, sleep on it. If you find after a good night’s rest the sale item is worth revisiting the store the next day, well, then it probably is worth it. Don’t forget to put it on your list before you leave the house.
Bring Cash Only: Entering a store armed with your ATM card or several credit cards is just asking for trouble. That’s like letting the Hilton sisters loose on Rodeo Drive. If you only bring enough cash to cover what’s on your list, by default, you simply can’t buy anything else. Put a twenty-dollar bill in your pocket and call it good.
Don’t Go Shopping: This one is really the toughest to avoid. At some point or another, you’re going to need to refill the soap or buy food to eat, but a lot of spending seems to come from boredom. I’m not talking about grocery shopping or running errands. I’m talking about the Saturday afternoon, nothing is on TV but football, I just paid my credit card bill kind of shopping. And to that I say “Don’t do it!” Avoid malls, shopping centers, and outlet stores at all costs. I know this is tough love, but just think of all the money you’ll be saving, not to mention the space you’ll be saving from all the junk you won’t be buying. If you really can’t resist, just go window shopping and don’t take your wallet. Again, you can’t buy anything if you don’t have money.
Good Times to Spend: Save your money for times when you need to spend money on others. It seems as though we’re much more thoughtful and careful when spending our money on others rather than ourselves. Plus it’s more fun to pick out presents for family and friends than to buy useless things for ourselves. If you have an urge to spend money, check your calendar and see whose birthday is coming up. This way you’re saving money in the long run because you’ll already have a birthday present by the time that birthday rolls around. It’s like taking your bad spending urge and using it for a good.
It’s never hard work to spend money, but it is hard work keeping money. If you really want to break your bad spending habit, the list above is a good start. If that’s still not working for you, I’d take up knitting.
Image courtesy of Mor (bcnbits)