Last week I wrote about the benefits of having an emergency savings fund. For most people, the biggest obstacle to saving is having money left at the end of the month to put into their savings account. This is why I devote such a large part of my practice to educating people on healthy spending habits.
If you’re spending more than you earn, debt is inevitable. When you rely on credit too often, it’s only a matter of time before it gets out of control and you’re diverting otherwise disposable income to monthly minimum credit card payments instead of useful things, like savings.
However, you don’t have to go on a ramen noodle diet to reduce your spending. Instead, consider small, gradual changes that in the aggregate and over time will amount to more money in your pocket.
RULE FOR THE DAY: AVOID THE TARGET TRAP
Stores like Target, Walmart and Walgreens are conveniently located, offer low prices and carry thousands of items. It makes it easy to get all of your shopping done in one place.
But the convenience can be a double-edged sword. We are all guilty of “running in” for a few items but end up walking out 45 minutes later, having spent a lot more than planned (because the T-Rex cookie jar was only $20 and hey, dinosaurs like cookies, too).
To avoid this “trap” at any store, follow these simple rules.
Plan a Shopping Day. Plan a weekly shopping trip to pick up all of the items you need at one time. The less often you “run in” to the store, the fewer opportunities you will have for impulse shopping.
Use a Shopping List. If you write down the items you plan to buy, you are more likely to make only those purchases. And, by planning ahead you are also more likely to stay within a budget.
Ditch the Cart. Don’t take a cart or basket into the store if you can carry the items on your list (or don’t take a cart when a basket will do). This will reduce the urge to make impulse buys since you can’t just toss them into the cart.
(Don’t be THIS guy)
Clip coupons and Shop Sales. Most Sunday newspapers contain weekly shopping circulars and coupons for big box stores and popular manufacturers. For less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee you can browse for the best deals on items you already purchase. Browsing the circulars ahead of time will also help you to identify which items are on sale, so you can create a budget-friendly list ahead of time.
For more money saving tips, or to get out of debt, call for your free consultation: 908-266-4843