We’ve all been guilty of being sucked into a sale. We check our emails and almost on a daily basis you’ll see email after email promoting an exclusive sale, limited time, shop now or forever hold your peace. It’s easy for these sales to suck us in. To make us feel like we’re missing out if we don’t shop. That’s what sales are designed to do. They convince us that we need to buy something even when we don’t really need it at all.
Now we’re not saying to avoid every sale. Sometimes sales can have a great reward. For example, if you know your kids need new winter coats next year. Instead of waiting for next year and paying full price, you may shop the end-of-season sale this winter so you have the new winter coats ready-to-go for next winter without having to pay full price while shopping in-season. If you’re strategic like this, sales can be great ways to save money on items you or your family needs. However, jumping on every sale just because “it’s a good deal” may save you money in the shorterm, but this can be dangerous behavior that adds up quickly. Maybe you’re saving money at the moment, but when you look at your overall spending, you’re actually buying more on sale then you would at full price, so your spending is a little out of control.
There are a few things you can keep in mind to stop shopping so much, and save instead.
- Track your spending
This is the most important. Pay attention to what money is coming and going from your accounts and where you’re spending that money. Apps like Mint can be great for this and help you categorize where you are spending over budget, and really visualize where your money is coming and going. This is where you’ll be able to quickly identify what areas of your life you need to cut back on.
- Identify the real need
Are you shopping because you’re bored? Or because there’s a great sale on? Or are you shopping because you legitimately need the item you are buying. When looking at needs versus wants, think about if you could live without this purchase. For example, you can’t live without winter boots if you live in a snowy climate, however, if you already have a pair of winter boots, you can definitely live without buying another pair.
- Remove temptation
If the constant emails to your inbox advertising sales are causing you to shop, unsubscribe from them. Removing the temptation will help you not feel like you’re missing out. If you don’t know the sale is happening, or Zara has a really cute new top in, then you won’t be tempted to spend your money on it.
- Reevaluate your money
If you have the money to shop until you drop, take a look at your budget or savings and where you can allocate the money to be more useful. For example, you may realize you have quite a bit of extra money in your account after all your expenses for the month. That’s causing you to shop and spend that money on things you don’t need. Adjust your budget to allocate these extra dollars into savings instead, where your money can be more productive and not as tempting as it’s sitting there.
Another issue that many people face is the influence of their significant other. Perhaps your spending is in-check, but your partner is always placing orders online and shopping non-stop. When you are sharing finances with a partner, this can be a burden that causes a lot of issues between the two of you and adds unwanted stress in your relationship. How do you ensure you are aligned with your spending habits to avoid needing to apply to borrow money online through places like GoDay?
Communication is key in all aspects of a relationship, but especially when it comes to finances. When you agree to share finances with a partner, you need to discuss who is responsible for what and where your money is going. You’ll also want to have a deep dive conversation into their spending habits so you both understand where your joint money is going.
2. Taking debt seriously
Debt is just one of those things that some people have more than others. It’s important that no matter what level of debt your partner or you have that you are completely transparent about how much it is, and what the repayment plan is for it. You may want to also agree on if you will pay this debt back together or if that single person in the relationship is responsible for it.
- A plan to save
When it comes to saving, everyone has different ways they want to save, and different things they want to save for. Chat through your personal goals with your partner, and also determine what your goals are together as a couple. Is it to buy a car? A house? Have kids? Retirement? Find out those goals and determine how you will put money away for these goals.
- Separate bank accounts
Some couples think that the best way to avoid issues is to separate their finances completely. Both of you have your own bank accounts for your paychecks and then you split the cost of bills as they come. This lays the groundwork for financial problems. Couples in great relationships and marriages talk about their money, and remember that being a couple is a partnership. There should be full transparency with your finances and keeping things apart can prevent that.
5. Different lifestyles
Maybe you are perfectly content with shopping at thrift stores, but your partner likes brand-name clothes. If you have an income that doesn’t support these habits, you’re going to run into problems, plus quickly develop resentment towards one another. Marriage is all about compromising, if you are attached to shopping a certain way, consider how you can cut costs, or how you both can change your lifestyle to line-up with one another.
As we mentioned above, saving is important. And although it’s okay to “treat yourself”, you also need to ensure that you aren’t overspending outside of your means. We often look for instant gratification through shopping, and avoid thinking about the long-term. Saving money for retirement for example, can feel so far away. It can feel like your money is going to “waste” or that it’s taking forever to build up. That’s normal, because a long-term savings goal should take a long time to reach. But if you’re saving for your future, we promise you won’t regret it in the long run. What you will regret is looking back and realizing you blew all your money on things you didn’t need, versus putting your money to important things. Here are some reasons that you may have trouble saving:
You’re not keeping track
Maybe you’re avoiding creating a budget, and not developing the habit of keeping track of where your money is going to so savings isn’t even a thought that crosses your mind.
You have a “maybe later” mentality
You’re living in the present, which is great, but not so great for your wallet. It can be hard to see past next week let alone think about decades from now when you can retire. However, the only way you are going to get to those milestones is if you start preparing now.
You’re lifestyle isn’t practical
You may just simply be living outside of your means. You might be a “yes” person and are going out and spending a ton of money, eating out for every meal, shopping whenever you want something, and the list goes on. It’s okay to have fun, but it’s important to remember to live within what you are able to.
If you answered “yes” to any of the points above, it’s time to take a look at your spending habits and asides from having a budget and acknowledging your spending habits and cash flow, here are some additional things you can start paying closer attention to:
- Use credit wisely
- Take a look at the unnecessary expenses you are overspending on (for example, a morning Starbucks)
- Set your money goals (both short-term and long-term will help you stay motivated)
- Meal plan versus always buying food out
- If you’re a homeowner, look at these tips to help you save
- Love to travel? Here are some tips to save money on that too
Overall, you need to learn how to make better spending decisions. It’s important to restrain yourself from shopping every time you can, and build healthy habits of learning to make better decisions when it comes to your money. This isn’t going to happen overnight, however, being more conscious and aware of where your money is coming and going will be a good place to start. Here are some other things you can start taking a closer look at:
Some people simply cannot handle being responsible with credit cards and look at it as “free money”. If you are one of these people, we suggest retiring your credit cards completely (or at least until you have a better hold of your spending). Credit cards make it easy for us to overspend outside our means, and also rack up interest when we can’t pay them off on time. If you are often finding yourself unable to pay your credit cards, it’s time to change over to debit or cash only.
Bills and savings
Being more in control of your monthly unavoidable bills is another great place to start. You may want to build out reminders in your calendar of when each bill is due, or put aside money in a separate account to ensure you don’t spend this money and in turn end up paying your bills late. Same goes for savings, when you’ve figured out how much you want to be saving, find a plan that is realistic and automatically move this money into a safe account that you will not easily access and spend. This may be a time you need to look at your debt, and what the best way is to get it paid off, which in some cases may be looking for a quick loan at GoDay to avoid being late on higher interest bills or debts.
Be more conscious
Lastly, you want to ensure you are being conscious of what you are spending all your money on. Everytime you tap that card, ask yourself if this was a necessary purchase or just something that is “nice to have”. By being more mindful of the purchases you are making, you’ll be able to identify any habits or patterns that are a money suck. Like eating out too much, spending too much at the bar, or opting for Ubers more than just walking or taking public transit.
Taking charge of your finances can be incredibly empowering. It can make you feel like you are prepared and ready for whatever life throws at you, and most importantly, you can set yourself up for the life you want to lead versus always having the stress of your finances.
And don’t forget, before you purchase anything, you should always give yourself some time to think about it. Don’t impulse purchase and really evaluate if you’re getting the best deal, and if the item is something you absolutely need versus just wanting.
What are your biggest tips to help get shopping habits under control?