Fact: It is hard to earn money.
Fact: It is hard to save money.
Fact: It is freakishly easy to spend money!
What’s up with that? If that saying, “Easy come, easy go,” has any truth to it, I feel like it should also work in reverse, “Hard to earn, hard to spend.” But, as usual, the universe didn’t ask for my input when setting up things like this.
I’ve heard that they exist, but I am not one of these natural born savers. In theory I’m great at it! I see things I’d like to have in my life, fall in love with them and vow to save money until I can eventually purchase them. So where’s the problem, right?
The problem arises whenever I leave the house or, thanks to the convenience of online shopping, whenever I don’t leave the house. While I have good intentions to save, save, save, I’m tempted to spend, spend, spend any time I see something I need, want or plan to need or want in the near (or sometimes distant) future. Bada-bing, bada-boom, there’s our problem! And now, the remedies:
Eyes on the prize. What can I say? I’m easily distracted by something bright and shiny. Those flashy advertisements, store displays and commercials are geared for people like me. If you’re equally as distracted from your savings goal, consider having pictures of your goal on hand. Whether you use a print advertisement, photograph or a picture printed from the Internet, keep a picture somewhere you’ll see regularly, like your desktop background, refrigerator or inside your wallet. When your shiny new car, your dream house or your new furniture is in sight, it’s less likely to be out of mind.
Stick to the list. When I walk into a store, and the salesperson says, “Can I help you?” My answer is usually, “No thanks; I’m just looking.”
Cue the buzzer! If you’re purposelessly wandering into stores like me and you openly admit to having no business in that store, get out! Run out of that store like your hair is on fire and don’t look back. Go home and remind yourself that you’re saving for something bigger than whatever that store was offering at 30 percent off that day.
Now, you can’t completely shut out commercial America, and inevitably, while you’re trying to save, you’re going to need something. When this time comes, head to the store with a goal in mind. Maybe your goal is larger pants for your growing kiddo who is currently donning high waters, chicken for dinner or deodorant for…well, deodorizing.
Make a list and stick to it! While you’re at it, make it a point not to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach or to the mall when you’re having a skinny jeans kind of day. Those are dangerous little situations that can cause you to spend on things you probably don’t need, like a box of doughnuts or leopard print leggings (which I can’t endorse as a good idea anytime).
S-A-L-E, the four letter word. Sales are just so hard to ignore, but when you need (or want) something really (really, really) badly you manage to tune out those wonderfully pesky sales.
We already addressed wandering aimlessly through the mall, but what about online? Maybe you’re asking, “Kristi, can I still online shop if the price is right?” No, dear friend, you cannot (and neither can I).
I don’t know about you, but every morning I wake up to 15-20 emails alerting me to sales and free shipping incentives for a LIMITED TIME ONLY! Typically I would peruse these emails just to make sure that none of the sale items is something I can’t live without, but when I am trying to save a little green I have to send those emails right to the trash. I know that I don’t have the willpower to see something perfect for me and walk away from it, so my secret is to never look. If I never see that perfect item, then I’ll never even know I “needed” it.
Create a spending plan. Getting back to that whole visual learner thing, creating a budget either on paper or on your computer can help you see exactly where your money is going and where you could cut back in order to save more money. Creating your spending plan is easy.
- Add up all of your monthly income for the month.
- Add up all of your expenses (I like to itemize so I can see exactly how much is going to groceries, gas, car payments, fun, etc.).
- Subtract your expenses from your income.
- The leftover is what you can be saving, and I recommend sliding that amount right over to a savings account instead of waiting to see what’s leftover at the end of the month because you WILL find a way to spend it if it’s just sitting there burning a hole in your pocket. Make spending adjustments where you can to increase your monthly savings.
After seeing what you can realistically save each month, set a goal month or year for your big purchase and shield your eyes from those tempting sales.