When you’re trying to save money, it can be easy to thwart your own efforts for that momentary high of instant gratification.
Everyone has their Achilles heel when it comes to spending: clothes, jewelry, cocktails with friends, dinners out, or fancy coffee drinks. And, hello, online shopping.
Let’s face it: no woman on the planet “needs” another pair of earrings. You could probably go all year without buying any new clothes. And you didn’t even want that appetizer that you agreed to share last night at dinner. But you paid for it!
Using willpower alone to reduce your expenses and save money is hard – you need to trick your brain instead.
Stop Buying Dumb Stuff & Save Money for Your Dreams
- Save Up to Splurge – What are you most excited about saving for? A down payment on a house? Your child’s college education? A tropical vacation? Visualize your goal. Write it down, draw a picture, create a dream board collage – whatever you have to do to make it real. Open a savings account labeled “PARIS TRIP.” And every time you order water instead of wine, or put the new blouse back on the rack, put the money you would have spent in your savings account instead. You’re saving money – but it will feel like a splurge.
- Post-It Note Reminder – Write down what you are saving for REALLY BIG on a post-it note, and stick the note inside of your wallet or right onto the face of your credit card. Whenever you want to buy something, it will remind you of your true priorities. Do you want to spend $4 on a latte, or save $4 for your Paris trip? It’s not a tough decision if you can remember to pay attention.
- Create a Budget for Stupid Sh*t – You don’t have to completely give up buying clothes, jewelry, cocktails with friends, dinners out, or fancy coffee drinks. In fact, doing so could lead to binge-shopping – like the dieter who gorges on chocolate cake after weeks of denial. However, you do need to realize how much money you are spending on frivolous items – and set a budget for each category. And guess what? Knowing that you only get three lattes per month will make each one that much more enjoyable.
- Grocery Cart Scan – You’ve found everything on your list at the grocery store and now you’re ready to check out and get the heck out of there. But before you do – press pause for a quick inspection of your basket’s contents. Did anything sneak in there while you were grocery shopping that you don’t really want to buy? Take it out before you pay, and be nice by handing the items to the cashier instead of stashing them somewhere that they don’t belong.
- Mandatory Waiting Period for Online Purchases – Amazon makes it sooooo easy to shop online. And fun! And it feels so good! Do you agree? Reign in your online shopping habit by instituting a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for all purchases. Need something sooner and it can’t wait? Walk away from your computer or put down your smartphone for ten whole minutes while you ponder the purchase to make sure it’s really such an emergency.
- Avoid Clothing Sales & Stores in General – Retailers know what they are doing when they mark the “regular” prices down. Customers almost feel guilty for passing up such amazing discounts. But 9 times out of 10, you’re not buying that sales rack garment because you love it or need it. You're buying it because it's cheap. Why test your willpower when you can avoid temptation altogether? Go shopping only when you truly need to – not just because you are bored or feeling “blah” and need a pick-me-up.
- Reign in Restaurant Bills – You weren’t even that hungry, but $75 dollars later you are having cold regrets over dessert. Dining out with friends makes you more likely to buy appetizers, drinks, and desserts that you didn’t even want. Peer pressure is real. Nobody wants to look like a cheapskate. But you don’t have to! You don’t have to say, “I would rather save my money for Paris than split an appetizer with you.” All you have to say is, “no thanks” - and the more often you do it, the easier it gets. Check out the restaurant’s menu online before you go and decide ahead of time what to order.
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