When it comes to personal finance, there are two basic schools of thought: spend less or earn more. Spending less sounds simple enough, but it can be a tough adjustment for anyone who’s used to a certain lifestyle or has set behavioral patterns.
Not only that, but the temptation to spend is everywhere you look. If you are trying to spend less but having a difficult time changing your habits, here are 5 ways to avoid spending temptations.
1. Unsubscribe From Shopping Lists
We live in the digital age where everything we want is at our fingertips. It’s both a blessing and a curse. After years of shopping online, attending events, and signing up for various things, I bet you get a lot of email.
I’d also wager that during Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day and nearly every other holiday, you get about 100 emails all exclaiming the virtues of a once-in-a-lifetime sale that’s coming.
Here’s the thing: a sale is not an excuse to spend. If you weren’t going to buy it before, why do you need to buy it now, just because it’s on sale? To help prevent temptation, unsubscribe from all shopping related email lists.
Use a free service like Unroll.me or Unlistr.com to quickly unsubscribe from any unwanted email subscriptions.
2. Turn Your Motivation into Vision
If you want a quick, simple, yet highly effective method to curb temptation, get a post-it and put your total amount of debt on it. Then, place it on your credit card. Every time you want to use it, you will be reminded of how much debt you have left and you’ll instantly think twice about spending more money.
If you don’t have debt, consider printing out pictures of your current goal — like travel or a housing remodel — and place it on your credit card. Having a visual reminder of what you’re working towards can help you avoid temptation.
3. Carry Cash for Spending-Trigger Situations
Let’s face it: we all have spending triggers that, given the right circumstances, encourage us to spend. For some people, it may be going to the mall. For me, it’s when I’m stressed out and tired. When I feel stressed and tired, money seems like an afterthought. A tool that can be used to make me feel better by going out to eat or out with friends.
Of course, that is reasonable to an extent, but I can’t just spend money every time I’m having a bad day or didn’t sleep well. It’s crucially important that you understand your spending triggers. Personal finance is not so much about numbers, but rather behavior.
I know that I tend to spend more when I’m overwhelmed or exhausted, so I’ve implemented techniques to help me relax. In addition, I’ve worked to be proactive, rather than reactive in life. Because I like to spend money on restaurants, I make it a point to always have food in the house and not wait until the crisis moment, where there is nothing left and I am forced to go out because my stomach is calling.
Once you know your spending triggers, use cash when you are in a situation where you might be encouraged to spend. Some people can’t go into a mall without spending any money — and if that’s the case, I’d suggest avoiding the mall altogether or at least carry a set amount of cash, so you don’t go overboard.
Carrying cash in these situations can help you budget and keep spending under control.
4. Ask Yourself Important Questions
If you are feeling the lure of spending, ask yourself the following important questions:
- Do I need this?
- Does this make my life better?
- Is this worth the cost?
- What else could this money be used for?
- How will I feel about this purchase tomorrow?
- Do I already have something like this?
Answering these important questions can help you think realistically and make an informed decision, rather than one based on emotions and spending triggers.
5. Create New Habits
Many of us tend to have set behaviors and patterns when it comes to spending. In order to spend less and change your patterns, you have to create new habits.
When I start to feel the desire to go out and spending money, I look up a fun recipe and experiment in the kitchen instead. When I feel like I just want to have fun, I go for a long walk instead and enjoy the simple things.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend money on fun — quite the contrary. You want to spend when it matters, not just because it’s a habit, pattern, or an emotional spending trigger.
Think about those situations where you feel most compelled to spend. What could you do instead that would feel equally as rewarding? It might be tough at first, but with any behavioral change, it gets easier over time.
So, if you want to commit to spending less, use these 5 tips to help manage your money and gain control over unnecessary spending.
How do you avoid spending temptations? What’s another trick you use to spend less?