We’ve all had a long day where retail therapy has felt like the solution to our blues. While it may be instantly gratifying, we usually end up with something we don’t need and a case of buyer remorse. So instead of repeating these habits, let’s look at some easy ways to reduce our spending and buy smart when we do go to make a purchase.
1. Plan. Ask yourself, “Is this a planned purchase?” Now this isn’t to say you can’t grab lunch when that meeting runs late, or that you can’t get something on a whim. This is to say you should limit those times. Working off a budget demands discipline and spontaneous spending throws a wrench in that.
2. Imagine it in a month. Obviously, food and other items are exempt here. Think to yourself, “Will I wear this in a month?” Are you going to be bored with the item, buy something new to replace it, forget about it? If so, chances are it’s not a good investment.
3. Improvement test. Test your purchase. What will it add to your life: clutter, an avenue to buy more things to support it, nothing, or make you happy for a bit? Again, these are not valid improvements. Yes, this encourages you to buy based on practicality instead of desire. It’s not a ton of fun now, but when your savings allows you to buy that new car for your growing family it’s totally worth it.
4. Check your emotions. Buying on emotion can be a bad way to gage necessity.
5. Keep your receipts from the days purchases. Write down how much you spent after adding up all your receipts. This will help you realize how things add up.
6. Actually balance your checkbook. It’s not a lost art.
7. Learn to change your mind. When you check out and things are more expensive than you thought, put stuff back or ask for things to be taken off. It’s okay to even walk away. You are not obligated, unless it’s a service that’s already been performed.
8. Research. Having an idea of prices before you buy something is so helpful and keeps you realistic. It also can keep you from wanting something you don’t need or can’t afford at the time.
9. Put the credit card away. Emergencies, planned purchases, or gas to keep your credit going these are the only things you should routinely put on your credit card.
Reward yourself along the way as you learn to do more and more of these! See how much you save as you implement practices to shop smarter. Have a friend do it with you so you stay accountable. Set your intention before you begin. Are you wanting to change spending to take care of debt, save up for something specific, for a new family member, or are you just wanting to lead a less emotionally spending life? Find your motivation.