In today’s consumer society, it’s easy to get caught up in the fervor of buying whatever catches our attention. Credit payments and competitive pricing capture our attention wherever we look, whether it’s the supermarket, a shopping mall, or a bargain hunter’s online shopping bonanza. The kids’ school fundraisers and dining out with friends can add unplanned purchases to the monthly credit card statement or deduct from the checking account balance. If your spending habits are becoming more impulsive and threaten your credit rating or bill-paying status, the following tips can help you to get your spending addiction under control.
Make cash purchases only. Research shows that shoppers who pay with cash compared to other methods tend to make smaller and less frequent purchases.
Freeze your Credit Cards
Literally. A brilliant cost-cutting expert started keeping her credit cards in a plastic bag in the freezer. To use them, they would have to be thawed. This took time, and she was usually unwilling to wait, so she began using cash instead, which saved her thousands in a few short months!
Avoid Friends Who Love to Shop
Do fun things with them, but don’t go shopping with shoppers, or you’ll likely be tempted to do the same. Some studies suggest that we become more like our friends when we spend time together.
Make a List
Taking a written or mental list along can help to limit purchases. Using a smart phone app or a hand-held calculator can take the guesswork out of buying something you want, especially if you keep your budget allocations in mind.
Start a Savings Account
Even if you already have one, start a savings account for a special purpose. It might be for a vacation, a home renovation, or a new car – anything that you are willing to save for while foregoing temptation purchases.
Get a Hobby
Surprisingly, some people go shopping or bargain hunting as a fun activity or a competitive opportunity. They don’t realize they are overspending until the bill comes in. Getting involved in another fun activity like home decorating, studying a foreign language, or joining a book club provides a creative outlet that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Shoppers who are stressed from work or a family situation often overspend without meaning to. They distract themselves from the troubling issue by focusing on an action activity, whether fun or needful, such as grocery shopping or buying a new outfit. Relaxing in other ways, such as exercising or reading, can actually save money for some folks.
Work Out Your Emotional Issues
There is some evidence that indicates people who ineffectively manage their emotions for various reasons may be more prone to spend money, sometimes on unnecessary things, as a means of feeling positive or in control. The sense of well-being doesn’t last, however, creating a vicious circle of spending when emotions run at high levels.
Reflecting on how much we already have to be grateful for helps to reduce the desire to buy more things. It may help to take inventory in the area of your life where shopping may lead to spending more than you can afford. If you’re dreaming of a new patio, enjoy the back yard view with its grass, trees, and flowers instead and relish the savings from not building a patio. If new china is your goal, think about the wonderful memories associated with the china you have been using for years.
Consult an Expert
If you don’t know how to control your spending habits, schedule an appointment with a professional who might be able to help. A therapist can assist you in working through personal issues that may contribute to your desire to buy things. A financial planner can explain the benefits of spending less and saving more.
Overspending can take a toll on every aspect of your life, including other family members. Take steps now to bring spending under control so you can enjoy the income you have without incurring bills you might not be able to pay.