These are tough economic times, and lots of people are feeling the stress. If you’re trying to cut down on your spending, try following some of these strategies:
1. Pay cash. Studies show that people find it much easier to spend money when they’re using a cash substitute (they also find it easier to cheat or pilfer!). Keep yourself in touch with cost, by using cold hard cash.
2. Focus on small items first. When you buy an expensive item, it’s easy to toss in unthinkingly a lot of smaller items alongside it – items that you might have otherwise have spent a lot of time considering, and which add up to a lot of $$$. So pick out smaller items first, then the larger item. Buy the software, the mouse, the mousepad, and the other bits and bobs, then choose the computer.
3. Don’t buy too much at one time. If you’re buying too many things, you stop paying attention to what you’re getting. Any one item seems insignificant. I call this “shop shock” or “drive-by shopping.”
4. Don’t buy anything at a bargain store that you haven’t bought before at full price.
5. Before paying, review each of your purchases with a skeptical eye. Don’t buy anything you’re not sure you want and can use – this is particularly important with clothes. I often ask myself, “Do I feel like wearing this tomorrow?” Sometimes, I realize I’ve picked something out because I can “use” it – but really, if I don’t love something, I almost never end up wearing it, no matter how useful it might be.
6. Don’t tell yourself, “I can always return it”; remind yourself, “I can come back if I decide I need it.”
7. Make a list and stick to it.
8. Don’t buy anything that needs to be a specific size unless you KNOW the measurements you need.
9. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Even for non-food items.
10. Don’t shop as an activity with friends. It’s easy to spend more than you intend, or to buy something you don’t really need or want, when you’re distracted by conversation. Find something else to do with your friends. Have coffee, go for a walk, run errands together (in high school, my friends and I used to do errands together all the time, and it’s a great way to turn a nagging task into something fun).
11. Be very skeptical of anything that’s on sale.
12. If you don’t shop, you don’t buy. Stay out of stores.
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