Thank you for all you do. I have been inspired to be more mindful about my purchases. I would like to hear you address an issue I have had and that is buying things because they are so cheap but not needing the items. So, the purchases just sit there. A purchase only is good if you need it. -Tina
At this time of year, when there are deals and sales galore, it’s easy to get caught up in the sale frenzy and spend money on items that aren’t actually a good deal for us.
A sale might be a great deal for some people, but just because a sale is a great deal for some people doesn’t mean that it’s a great deal for everyone.
So how can you be more mindful of your purchases and not just spend money because it was a can’t-miss deal? Well, here are four suggestions I have:
1. Have a budget.
You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? I know, it’s not exciting to have and stick with a budget.
But guess what? It will be exciting when you don’t have to stress over getting a credit card bill that you can’t pay!
Jesse and I have always lived on a strict written budget. And we attribute the current financial position we are in almost 100% to the fact that we have stuck with a budget since the time we were married.
(Hate the word budget? Then don’t use that word and use a different more positive word that works for you.)
A budget has also forced us to communicate about our wants and needs and goals. And it’s forced us to be really creative when times are tight.
There are times when it’s been really hard — because having a budget has meant that we have had to say no to a lot of good things and fun things and things we’d really love to have or do.
On the flip side, a budget has also given us permission to spend money. As soon as we had some wiggle room in our budget, we were able to add a Blow Category to our budget. Living on a budget and spending less than we make has also allowed us to have the extra money to give generously.
The best thing about a budget is that it lets you know whether you can spend on an item or whether you shouldn’t spend on an item. When you see that great deal on shoes at the mall or electronics on Amazon or cereal at the grocery store, you will know whether or not you have the money for it by consulting your budget.*
Psst! Feel like you can’t cut your budget but you’re not making ends meet? Read this post.
2. Use cash or a prepaid card or gift card.
A budget is imperative, but if you need help with actually sticking with your budget — especially when it comes to purchases like your Christmas gifts — you could make it easier for yourself to follow through with a budget by using cash or a pre-paid card or gift card.
These might not be as efficient as using a debit or credit card, but they will certainly be more effective at helping you stick with your budget.
I prefer cash since I can see exactly how much I have left to spend. For me, there’s something about having to pull out cash and hand it over when shopping that forces me to really examine each purchase and be 100% sure I want to spend the money on it.
I’ll find myself asking questions like, “Will I really use this? Could I get this for less money somewhere else? Do I really need this right now? How often do I think I’ll use/wear this?”
Using cash is great for in-store purchases, but it doesn’t really work for online purchases — and that’s where most of the best deals often are. This is where a pre-purchased prepaid card or gift card can come into play.
Designate the amount of money you plan to spend online for Christmas gifts (or whatever the purchases will be) onto this card and then that will highly motivate you to actually stick with that pre-determined budget!
(You can also earn free gift cards to use on Christmas gifts! Here are some of my favorite sites to use for that.)
Psst! Thinking you might want to start using cash envelopes? Read this post on 7 Budget-Saving Cash Envelope Hacks.
3. Get some accountability.
If you struggle to stick with your budget and are often swayed by “good deals” to overspend, I would encourage you to set up some accountability. This could be in the form of a budget tracker program like You Need a Budget. But I’d strongly suggest taking it a step further and asking for someone to be your accountability partner.
This would be a person who would know what your financial goals are, know what your budget is, and would get to check in with you regularly on how it’s going sticking with your budget. You could even give them access to your budgeting spreadsheet or software so they could check up on you in real-time!
Also, set up parameters for what influences you have in your life. If you find that reading certain blogs or following certain people on social media or going to certain stores or reading certain magazines or websites causes you to want to overspend, maybe you need to just stay away from them.
In the same vein, replace those negative influences with positive ones. Have people around you who will encourage you to stick with your budget, make wise financial choices, and live intentionally and frugally.
(Need some help finding frugal friends? Read this post.)
4. Wait 24 hours.
If you have the money in your budget, but you’re just not sure whether you should spend it on this item, a great exercise is wait 24 hours before purchasing it.
This gives you time to consider whether you really think it’s a good deal. It gives you space to step back and analyze whether or not you will really use something. And it also guarantees that you’re not just buying into an adrenaline rush and buying something you’ll later regret.
If you still think the item is a great deal after 24 hours, then you can guiltlessly purchase it. And there’s a really great chance it will be something that you will love and use for years to come because you were so thoughtful in your purchase.
What tips or advice would you have for Tina? Share them in the comments.
* One of the tools we love to help us track our spending and make sure we are sticking with the budget is using You Need a Budget. You can read more how it works and why we love it so much here.