With the holidays right around the corner, this is the time of year when many of us will be doing more shopping than usual – and that means more temptation to spend!
If you or someone you know is prone to overspending — any time of year — this five-second trick might be worth a try.
Stop overspending in just five seconds
Sarah from the “Yes and Yes” blog shared a money-saving secret that she says has kept her from spending thousands of dollars on frivolous purchases.
“Think about how much you’d be willing to pay for it before you look at the price tag.”
Sarah says there have been plenty of times when she thought the item was worth much less than the price tag, so she decided not to buy it.
Sarah’s example got us thinking about Clark’s advice to wait at least 24 hours before making a large purchase — let’s say $100 or $200 — in order to avoid impulse spending.
And here’s something else to think about: Does your spending reflect your personal values?
Clark.com contributor Lauren Greutman, who paid off more than $40,000 of debt in less than four years, says many spenders don’t think beyond the “now” when they’re shopping.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What are my values?
- Where do I spend my money?
- Do these two things line up?
- Is my spending putting my family at risk?
To make your spending a reflection of your values, Greutman shared these six steps to take control of your finances by carefully analyzing your wants and needs:
- Stop using credit cards. These can be VERY dangerous for spenders! And no one thinks being in debt is one of their life values. Either cut them up, or literally freezer them in water in the freezer. That way it takes you a long time to get to them, and by then you have hopefully thought about your purchase.
- Think about the people that matter to you the most. Is your spending going to be what’s best for them in the long-run? Will you be able to retire and live comfortably? Will you be able to pay for your kids’ college tuition?
- Think about the things that you cannot live without. Is cable TV, another gadget, or a new pair of shoes really more important than your electricity bill?
- Make a list of your bills in order of importance to survive. Think about family, food and shelter — that means things like groceries (not restaurants), house, utilities, childcare, etc.
- See how far your take-home-pay gets you down the list you made. Pay your bills in that order and if you run out of money, you’re done for the month.
- Keep spending your money in order of priority each month, and if you have a little extra, put it in savings or take the kids for ice cream. But make sure your top priorities are all covered and plan for the extra things ahead of time.
Read more: How I fed my family on $50 a week
The six steps we’ve just outlined, as well as Sarah’s money-saving tip, can help you break the cycle and make the switch from mindless spending to mindful spending.
But if you don’t have a budget in place, you’ll have no way of knowing how you’re doing.
In our Common Cents series, Clark.com’s Alex Sadler explains the first step to taking control of your money is to spend less than you make. Then you can set goals, create a budget and track your expenses.