If you have a habit of wondering where your money went shortly after you’ve been paid, you may be falling victim to destructive spending habits. The good news is that there are ways to become a more mindful spender.
Here are some ideas to help you kick that generous spending habit by taking a step back, thinking it out, and not deciding on a whim.
Create a shopping list.
And stick to it. A shopping list keeps you focused on buying the items that you need, instead of turning your trip to the store into a free-for-all where you spend more money than you originally planned.
Another option to help you avoid buying impulse items you weren’t planning on is by placing your order online. Most stores now offer free pickup for online shopping orders. Since you don’t have to set foot in the store, the chances of impulse shopping get cut significantly.
Use only cash.
This tip takes a great deal of discipline in a world that relies heavily on payments made by plastic. When you force yourself to pay for everything using cash, you have to be more mindful of what you’re buying, regardless of whether it’s groceries or gasoline.
By reducing or eliminating the number of times you swipe your debit or credit card, you give yourself more control over the balance in your bank account.
Think about why you’re shopping.
If you are finding yourself in the mood to shop, before heading out on a spree, question your motives for wanting to spend. What feelings are driving you to buy? Anger? Boredom? Sadness?
When you’re able to identify the triggers that make you want to spend, you can react to them more positively.
Treat impulse buys with time.
While buying the coolest new doohickey might seem like a fantastic idea, it is always a smart idea to try and control your urge. Instead of buying on sight, think about the investment and perhaps do some research online to see what others are saying.
Walk around the store, go home for the day, and see if you’re even thinking about that item in a couple of days. If you are, go back and buy it. If you’re not, well, you won’t face any regret over leaving it.
Think of money as time.
Before you drop hundreds of dollars on an expensive purchase or activity, think of the amount of time it took you to earn that money. Is that handbag worth a full day’s worth of work? Are those football tickets worth one week’s grind?
This practice can be a sobering way to curtail spending on extraordinary, non-essential expenses.
Find a friend for accountability.
Don’t go shopping alone. Instead, find a friend with strong willpower to accompany you until you get used to telling yourself ‘no.’ Set the goals and expectations of your shopping trip beforehand, and give your friend a safe word to signify when you’re overspending.
Rationalize the purchase.
Taking out all emotion, evaluate and weigh the benefits of the item you’re thinking about buying. Once you have it, what are the chances you’ll use it? Force yourself to think objectively about how often you’ll really use it, if it’s something you ever thought about before you saw it, and if you’ll realistically regret going home without it.