An ongoing pursuit of saving more money shares a lot of similarities with the never-ending pursuit of losing weight. The goal is always there. The intention is always genuine. But bad habits are hard to break, and temptation is strong. If you’re ready to get into fit financial shape and only gain in your savings account, then here are five solutions to help you spend more consciously.
Evaluate Needs vs. Wants
Conscious shopping begins with distinguishing needs from wants and resisting the impulse to give in to the want. This could mean the difference between “I want the brand-new iPhone 10 for $1,000” and “I can use a iPhone SE with some of the same features for a lot, a lot less.”
Understandably, living according to only your family’s needs can strip your lives of enjoyment and comfort too. Nerd Wallet recommends building a 50/30/20 budget to help you prioritize spending, so you can meet your needs, while still reserving funds for wants and savings too. Adopting a need vs. wants mentality overall can also create a habit of assessing every individual urge to buy something. For example, you’ll learn to respond to “I want a Starbucks chestnut praline chai tea latte this morning” with “I can make coffee at home with creamer and save $5.”
Shop with Tunnel Vision
To eliminate excess spending, only go shopping (online or in-store) when you have a particular item(s) in mind — and especially not for leisure. Then shop with tunnel vision; it’s easy to click around until you shopping cart is full with five more things that you didn’t know you wanted five minutes ago. The same goes for shopping at a store … walk in with a mission to find only what’s on your list. If you do find something that catches your eye and you can’t seem to let go in the moment, write it down. Wait and see if you still want to buy it in a month.
Yes, Pay with a Credit Card
Owning credit cards is financially risky; it’s easy to mindlessly swipe, swipe, swipe with the “buy now, pay later” mentality. In fact, the average household has more than $16,000 in credit card debt. Families are typically advised to cut up credit cards and pay only with cash and debit cards. But using credit can actually help you maximize your spending (or save) by accumulating points. The caveat is to treat credit cards as a smart savings tool, rather than as instant and easy money to use at your fingertips. You can redeem points earned for gift cards, cash back and great travel rewards.
Drink Only Water
Think about how much that your family could save by cutting out everything that you drink. Sticking to water only means not spending on soda, juice, coffee drinks, alcohol, fancy water and vitamin drinks, energy drinks and tea. The Simple Dollar adds that drinking more water helps you feel full and stay fuller longer, which helps cut down on costs for snacks. Bonus! A water-only diet keeps you hydrated and provides those health benefits of drinking less sugar, calories and caffeine.
Be Smart with Social Media
Social media has the power to influence the “should’s” of our lives. I should be 20 pounds lighter with six-pack abs. I should have a house now. I should be traveling the world. The highlight reels of others become engrained in our heads, creating a “keeping up with the Joneses” effect. Subconsciously, you may start dishing out money for a new fitness fad, hobby or vacation to only measure up to the lives of others.
Social media also advertises to you, based on the pages you like, your searches and your likes. While you scroll, you’re hit with ads to buy this gadget or these yoga pants — items advertised based on your personal interests. So be aware of the effects of social media and stay strong against the “should thinking” that can come with seeing others’ posts. Scroll with perspective and take a break from social media if needed.