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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?

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?

10 Ways to Cut Your Spending

No matter where you are financially, everyone loves looking for small ways to cut their spending and save some money. Those smallest of savings can really add up. If you can cut just $6 from your daily spending, that adds up to $2190 a year!! I don’t know about you, but I can put that amount of money to some good use.

Let’s look at 10 simple ways that you can cut your spending so you can free up that extra cash for the things that are really important to you.

1. Switch to Store Brands

Did you know that making the switch to store brand labels can save you on average 25%? There are big savings to be had by making this simple change to the way that you shop. Worried about sacrificing quality? Over the counter medications and many staple food items are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so the store brand pain reliever will offer you the same benefits as the national brand. The only thing you’re not paying for are the marketing and the pretty packaging.

2. Shop with a List

Shopping with a list, and sticking to it, is an easy way to cut spending because it helps you to avoid those impulse purchases. This doesn’t just go for groceries. Next time you’re headed to the store to get the children or yourself some new clothes, be sure to inventory what you have and write a list of what you need. This will help you stay focused while shopping and save you money.

3. Meal Plan

Meal planning has been the biggest single thing I’ve done that has saved my family money. It has allowed me to cut, on average $200 a month from my grocery budget! Once a week, sit down with the store ads, see what’s on sale, and plan a week’s worth of dinners. Not only will this help to simplify your week, but it will also help you to avoid those trips through the drive-thru.

4. Carry Snacks

Speaking of trips through the drive-thru, one of my favorite ways to avoid spending money on food while we’re out and about is to carry snacks with me if we’re going to be away from home for more than a couple of hours. My stash of “car snacks” has saved many trips to the convenience store or fast food restaurant because all of a sudden one (or both) of my children are hungry.

5. Use it Up

Before you head out to buy another bottle of shampoo or another bottle of salad dressing, use up what you already have first. If you want to make sure that you are truly using it all up, be sure to cut open the end of that tube of toothpaste because even if you think it’s all gone, you will find that you have another week worth of product left in the package.

6. Talk to Your Service Providers

Call up your service providers to see if they have any promotions or special pricing that you can take advantage of. If you mention that you’re looking at shopping around, they’ll be more than happy to give you their best offer so that they can keep your business.

7. Pack your Lunch and Bring Your Coffee To Go

If you are the type of person who grabs lunch and coffee on the go, this simple change could save you $50 a week or more. It might take a few extra minutes in the evening to put together your lunch, but the savings are more than worth it. If you took that $50 a week and invested it in a fund with an average return of 6.5%, in 15 years you would have just over $61,000!!

8. Cancel Email Deals and Sales Alerts

I started doing this after Christmas and I’ve come to appreciate my less cluttered in-box. The biggest thing I don’t miss? That feeling of temptation when seeing “75% OFF!!” and “Brand New Markdowns!!”.  After all, you’re not really saving any money if you didn’t need the item in the first place.

9. Buy Things Used

Thanks to online buy and sell sites, good old thrift stores, and garage sales, it is easier than ever to buy quality items used. I’ll buy used clothing for myself and my children, books, and some furniture pieces for my home. No longer will I spend $80 for a pair of jeans when I can get the exact same pair for $15 at my local thrift shop.

10. Practice the Art of Contentment

I love this quote because it really puts into perspective just how fortunate most of us are. Rather than craving the next new item or upgrade, focus on being thankful for and appreciate what you do have.  When you spend your time appreciating what you have, you’ll find you will spend less time focused on the things that you want.  

Your Turn:

  • What are some spending cuts that you have made to reach your financial goals?

 

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