Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

4 Rules to Curb Impulse Spending

Impulse spending was my biggest money mistake, to the tune of thousands upon thousands of dollars. Aside from our student loan debt, 85% of our debt was because of impulse spending and not planning ahead.

In order to break the cycle and change our spending habits, we had to learn the rules to curbing our impulse spending. I wished I had known about these strategies years ago, but they are still rules that we follow today.

Only leave with the cash amount that you are willing to spend

When you go out shopping with a limit to how much you’re willing to spend in mind, take only that amount in cash. Leave your debit and credit cards behind. If you leave any access to extra funds at home, you guarantee that you will not blow the budget and pick up $100 worth of items from Target when you only went there for paper towels.

Avoid the places where you know you tend to overspend

When we did our spending analysis, I saw just how much of a weakness I had for the cosmetics counter and Target. Those are two places where I can easily find myself overspending and making impulsive purchases.

My husband on the other hand would rarely walk away from our local hardware store with just the one item that he went there to pick up. We acknowledged our impulsiveness and agreed to avoid those places as much as we could.

Shop with a list

I not only shop with a list when doing my grocery shopping, but I also make a list when it’s time to do any type of shopping. My lists are made up of the items that we need by doing an inventory of what we already have, and nothing else goes into the cart.

As I prepare my Christmas shopping list, I come up with four items for each of my children. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Aside from the stocking stuffers, I know that with my list I’m protecting myself and my budget from going overboard.

Unsubscribe from those store email lists

Every morning I would be greeted with a long list of emails from some of my favorite stores letting me know about the great sale that they’re having (they seem to be having a different one each week), or a coupon code. I found myself all of a sudden in a mood to go shopping and take advantage of all these great deals.

This past January I decided to end the temptation once and for all. I unsubscribed to all of the email lists. No longer am I bombarded by sales ads, I’m no longer tempted to take advantage of the sale or coupon code on items that I didn’t really need anyway. After all, if you don’t need the item, you’re not really saving any money, no matter how much it’s marked down.

Your Turn!

  • What is your spending weakness?
  • What do you do to curb impulse spending?

Minimalism and Shopping: Questions to Ask Before Buying

After the decluttering and the clearing out, I started to feel like such a pro minimalist. But soon the day will come when you need to buy something – and this sent me into a panic mode at first. Could I go to Target and buy only soap? It took a long process of trial and error, but these are the questions I now ask myself to consider with minimalism and shopping.

1. Is this a planned or spontaneous purchase?

I only buy things that I’ve been considering for some time. This means that I’ve thought about purchasing and already considered whether or not it was a necessary purchase. A lot of the time, I will think about buying something for a couple of weeks, and then at the end of this time, decide that it’s actually not something that I need. This process is super helpful for me, as I used to be a very spontaneous shopper (and addicted to Target). It also helped me learn how to start living a minimalist lifestyle.

Minimalism and Shopping

2. Is there something else I could use instead?

This question has actually prevented me from purchasing things that I’d wanted and thought about but didn’t actually need. I now buy primarily multi-use products, or turn my products into multi-use products. For example, I used to use separate products for my face and body. Now, I try to use the same soap for my face and body (preferably a bar soap as they last longer), and I use the same moisturizer all around as well. I have even moved into using products that can go further than this; I’m currently trying out oils as moisturizers, because they can also moisturize my hair (and knock out the need for a hair serum!).

3. Will I use this until it expires?

I’ve bought many a product that I had not planned to use to it’s fullest potential. Before minimalism, this was mostly fast fashion – cheap jewelry from forever 21 that would stain my fingers green after a week, tank tops that would fall apart after a couple of washes. But even after transitioning into minimalism, I would purchase things that I might only need for a short time.

Minimalism and Shopping

The best example here is the multiple types of coffee makers I (used to) own. I travel the world full time; I live out of a backpack. I definitely don’t need to be carrying around more than one coffee maker, but at one point I was carting around a French press, a cone filter (complete with a pack of 100 filters), and a plastic reusable Tupperware container full of coffee. I do love a good cup of coffee, but even to me, that is over the top. Since this ridiculous incident, I’ve removed all of these items from my backpack and now just use the coffee maker that is available to me (also trying to quit the daily coffee habit, so I don’t have to rely on anything).

These are the three questions that have helped me avoid lots of unnecessary purchases, and have assisted me so much in my journey to minimalist shopping.

Your Turn!

  • What secrets do you have for avoiding unnecessary purchases?

What to do if you go Overboard and Over Budget

It happens, even to those of us who have been budgeting for years. There are going to be those months where something (or many things) come up and blow your well-planned budget out of the water.

Knowing that it will eventually happen, it is best to prepare yourself for that month (or months) where things have gone overboard and over budget.

Step One: Stop and Breathe – It’s going to be OK

What you want to avoid doing when you know you’ve gone over budget is to throw your hands up in the air and forget the whole budgeting thing. When times get tough and the cash flow feels tight, you want to try your best to maintain a positive attitude.

Step Two: Go Into Your Budget

When I’m stressed out about the budget, the last thing I want to do is go in and check in with my budget since I know I’ve blown it. I know though that it is the one thing that I must do. Go into the budget, see where things are, and see what needs to be cut back on so that you can find a way to cash flow this latest life expense.budget binder

Take a look at your variable spending categories (food, clothing, gas, etc.) and see if there are any areas where you don’t need to spend as much. Can some of that money be used to help cover the unexpected expense?

If you can’t cut from your variable expenses, take a look at what you are setting aside in your sinking funds. Ask yourself if there are any sinking funds that you can stop contributing to this month so that you can free up extra money and not completely blow the budget.

Step Three: Take a Look Around Your House

Is there anything around your house that you could sell to recoup some fast cash to then cover the unexpected? With so many buy and sell sites available online, making some fast cash is never easier and having that cash in hand in exchange for those items that rarely get used anymore will help to limit the stress that you’re feeling right now.

Step Four: Tap into your Savings

If the extra income isn’t there or if there are no areas in the budget left to slash, then it’s time to look at your savings. Yes that money might be earmarked for something else, but if it means not having to go into debt to help cover the cost, it’s better to borrow the money from yourself..

When things are better and you averted this temporary crisis, you can always pay yourself back. And it’s much better to pay yourself back than paying back a bank who charges you interest.

Your Turn!

  • How do you get through those months where life has thrown you an unexpected expense?

When Does Minimalism Become Unhealthy?

Minimalism is a lifestyle that has brought me so many benefits, I tell everyone I know about it. Though it is a helpful and healthy lifestyle for me, it can become an unhealthy obsession for some. So, when does minimalism become unhealthy?

Obsession Over Getting Rid of Stuff

When I first started to get rid of my stuff I didn’t need, it felt good. I am still getting rid of stuff, and minimalism is a constant learning process for me. I used to feel the shoppers high after buying a ton of stuff I didn’t need at Target; now I feel the minimalism high after getting rid of bags of old clothes or college books. I can see how getting rid of stuff could turn into an obsession.

When Minimalism Becomes Unhealthy

Getting Competitive

I talk about minimalism a lot, and though I’m probably more of a minimalist than your average person, I sometimes get called out in the minimalist community for things like wearing makeup or owning multiple pairs of shoes. This doesn’t bother me because I believe that minimalism looks different for everyone. It’s not a competition over who has less stuff, and you can still be a minimalist if you own two dresses instead of one.

Getting Rid of Things You Actually Need

Minimalism is a great way of life. My favorite thing about it is the individuality, and figuring out what you consider worthy of keeping to use on a regular basis. If I used something like a potato peeler on a regular basis, but someone else doesn’t, it might make sense for the other person to get rid of their potato peeler. Minimalism can become unhealthy when one gets rid of items they use regularly, simply to become more minimalist.

When Minimalism Becomes Unhealthy

Mindset

To me, minimalism is lifestyle that makes my day-to-day life easier and more enjoyable. I got rid of the stuff I didn’t need to make room for the things I care about in my life, like spending time with family and having freedom in my schedule. When minimalism becomes a competition or obsession, it starts to become unhealthy.

When Life Becomes Harder

It can be easy to slip into a mindset of wondering what else you can get rid of, what you haven’t used in the last few weeks, what takes up the most room in your closet. If getting rid of things and being as minimalist as possible is making your life harder than it is easier, you may have an unhealthy obsession with minimalism.

These are just a few ways in which minimalism can become unhealthy. Minimalism has brought so many benefits to my life. As with anything, it’s best practiced in a way that works best for the individual. This will look different for everyone. I really believe that everyone can benefit from adopting a few minimalist practices.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have any other reasons you think minimalism could become unhealthy?

 

5 Things I Stopped Buying to Save Money

When you’re trying to save money, it’s a good idea to track what you currently spend money on and see if there are habits that you can change. Perhaps you can do without some items, look for a cheaper alternative, or find a way of doing it yourself.

In order to free up as much money to put towards our financial goals as possible, we saw our biggest money wasters and made cuts or found cheaper alternatives. They were simple changes to make and we haven’t looked back since.

Pre-Packaged Foods and Snacks

This was one of the first things to get cut from our shopping list that has saved us a lot of money over the last three years. When I saw that I could buy a bag of chocolate chips for the same price as a box of pre-packaged cookies, I quickly realized that I could make a lot more cookies for the same price, cut down on the amount of package waste our family was producing, and save a lot of money in the long-run.

The other things we stopped buying were the pre-packed side dishes, like flavored rice and pasta. Again, a large bag of rice or pasta is much cheaper and you can season it as you wish. The other thing to go were the boxes of crackers. Instead we’ll air pop some popcorn and have that as a crunchy snack.

Bread

One road trip during the summer we found ourselves driving through Amish country. That time of year, you can find vendors set up along the side of the road selling fresh produce and baked goods. When I saw the homemade bread, I had an awakening of sorts.

Bread where I live will go on sale for $1.75 a loaf, and that is the rock-bottom price. At the time I was spending on average $2.00 a loaf and each week and would have to buy 4 loaves of bread (Yes, we’re big bread eaters…Yum). The math however on that was a little scary. $8.00 per week meant that we were spending $416 a year on bread.

We inherited a bread maker that sat in my pantry for years, never being used until we returned home from that summer trip. I found a great recipe and have been enjoying homemade bread ever since. I can easily make a loaf for under $1.00, saving my family $200 a year.

Gym Memberships

When making cuts to our budget to save money, this was also one of the first things to go. I enjoy exercise and know how important it is to our overall health, but I also know that exercise doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

Rather than spending $30 a month on a gym membership (that honestly wasn’t being used enough to justify the cost), I spent $30 on a pair of hand-held weights, a weighted medicine ball, and a yoga mat. Getting outside and going for a walk or run is free and, thanks to the internet, there is an endless supply of exercise videos and tutorials available online that I can stream on my television.

Books and Magazine Subscriptions

I used to love getting the mail and finding my magazine subscription come in. When I added up what I was spending each year, I realized that it was money that I could just as easily put towards our financial goals. I quickly cancelled my magazine subscription and started enjoying the same magazine loaned from the library for free.

As a literacy teacher, I also love books. One of my favorite things to do would be to head over to my local bookstore and browse the shelves looking for the next great read. I treasured my growing collection of novels. What I didn’t treasure was the ever increasing price. Again, back to the library to pick up the same books and enjoy them for free. 

Take-Out Coffee and Disposable K-Cups

Coffee. I love coffee. It’s the first thing that I look forward too each and every morning. It was also a constant leak in our budget. When I saw what six months worth of take out coffee cost, I was shocked. It never seems that much when you’re spending only two or three dollars at a time. For what I was spending in one week, I was able to pick up a travel coffee mug and now bring my own from home.

The other expense we gave up were the individual, single-use K-cups for our coffee machine. I traded in my single-use cups and bought some reusable cups that we fill with our own coffee for pennies a cup. Not only is it better for our wallet, but also better for the environment.

Your Turn!

  • What have you stopped buying in order to save money?
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