Let’s face it: some of us just love to spend money. It’s not that we like parting with our hard-earned cash; we just enjoy getting new things! It’s understandable in a consumer culture. We’re constantly being inundated with advertisements encouraging us to spend, spend, spend! A 2016 poll conducted by Credit.com revealed that 5 out of 6 Americans buys on impulse, and 54 percent of those studied have spent $100 or more.
While these numbers are startling, there is hope for hopeless spenders. Even shopping addicts can save money without completely giving up their habit. The key is to be conscious about what you buy and make saving as much as a priority as acquiring new things. With a little self-discipline and a good budgeting system, spenders at heart can learn to save more with the following tips.
Declutter your space. Cleaning out your space forces you to take stock of what you already own, and how much money you’ve spent to acquire all of it! This exercise offers the perspective necessary to curb your unnecessary spending. Start with one room and organize items into things you can donate, things you can sell and things to throw away. Though it takes discipline to let go, you’ll find you appreciate the things you kept much more than you did when they were cluttered up by items you didn’t value.
Create a budget (and stick to it). Getting financially organized starts with a concise budget. Map out your monthly expenses and income so you have a clear picture of where your money goes. Whether you prefer to write it down in a notebook or tend to be more digitally driven, there are several free resources to help get organized. Sticking to your budget requires revisiting and adjusting it throughout the year since spending needs fluctuate over time. What’s more, closely monitoring your budget allows you to track changes and see progress in your savings goals, which is highly motivating!
Pay yourself first. Effortlessly contribute funds to your own savings by automating your deposits. Don’t wait until the end of the month to transfer money into savings; instead, automate a transfer between checking and savings at the beginning of every paycheck. This allows you to siphon money away so you won’t be tempted to spend it. You’ll be surprised how quickly savings add up and how much you don’t miss the extra funds!
Consider the big picture. We all have financial goals we want to achieve, and our spending often sabotages our progress. Consider the big picture before you waste money on more clothes, takeout or whatever your spending vice is. Momentary pleasure is not as satisfying as investing in something bigger, like a vacation or paying off a debt. Concentrating on larger goals will help you to prioritize your spending and make it easier to curb unnecessary purchases.
Identify your triggers. If shoes are your spending weakness, it’s best to not tempt yourself to purchase them! Try not to visit stores where you’re prone to spend. Similarly, avoid opening retail emails advertising sales or discounts. In fact, you’re better off unsubscribing from these emails altogether. Though they provide an opportunity to save money, these messages tempt you to spend when you weren’t planning to. Instead, use a coupon website to find deals when you’re ready to treat yourself. You can use these American Eagle coupons at Coupon Sherpa, for example, or any retail store you prefer.
Steer clear of credit cards. If you tend to be a spender, your credit card is simultaneously your best friend and your worst enemy. Get rid of the temptation by “breaking up” with your credit cards. Whether you literally freeze them or cut them up, removing the ability to accrue debt will help you focus your funds on paying it off. Avoiding credit cards also forces you to use money you actually have, which is a healthy habit to start! Once you get used to this strategy, you can reincorporate credit cards into your spending regimen by charging only those expenses you can pay off immediately. Responsible credit card use will contribute to a higher credit score and can yield rewards like travel miles and cash back.
Shop with good influences. Though shopping is a social occasion, beware of who you shop with; we all have those friends who enable us to spend! You don’t have to always shop solo, however; try challenging your friends to adopt better spending habits too, and keep each other in check when you shop. Set a budget for your trip and encourage yourself and your friends not to exceed it. Peer pressure works both ways!
Adopt a spending rule. Wait 24 hours, one week, one month — whatever works for you personally — before you make an impulse buy. More often than not, you’ll find your desire for a particular item wanes with time. If the urge does not go away, this will also give you time to save up for the particular purchase. Rewarding yourself from time to time isn’t harmful as long as it doesn’t become a habit and you give it a good amount of thought first.
This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.
This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.
I’m busy (aren’t we all?), but also kinda lazy (maybe it’s just me). Here are three things that are saving me sanity, time, and in some cases money, and I’m super-thankful they’re in my life right now:
I’m now on Fix #4 and I’m obsessed!
I tried this styling service once back in 2014, but I wasn’t ready for it. Of the five items I received, I liked two. I sent them back because I thought they were a bit pricey for what they were (I think $48-58, if I recall?), and I ended up regretting returning them. I liked that top and cardigan, and I didn’t find others in store that were quite the same, either. Whoops.
On a whim this year, I scheduled my second Fix. I changed my style profile to reflect my current aims, and I went into it with the understanding that yes, these items are going to cost more than I would pay at Target. I’m paying for a styling service and their algorithm the mega convenience factor, and some nicer-quality items. I ended up keeping all 5 items in my second Fix and received a 25% off discount for doing so. A $20 styling fee with each Fix covers shipping both ways, and can be used as a credit toward any purchase in that Fix. Return it all and you lose your $20, though.
My total with 7% sales tax and minus the styling fee was $196. Yikes! Comes to about $40 per item. Some of these were Stitch Fix (affiliate link, thank you!) house brands, and others you can find at places like Nordstrom. I was glad to see “made in USA” on the label of one of my tops.
If you bank with PNC, activate the Stitch Fix offer on PNC Purchase Payback. I jumped in on one offer before it expired and got $10 back on my $20 styling fee, and activated a new offer that popped up for an additional $10 back (which applied toward my purchase). The timing of both worked out to $20 off that Fix, plus 1.75% cash back on my purchase by using that PNC Visa. If you don’t bank with PNC, try Cash Back Monitor to see current extra offers for new customers. Oh, and I would certainly appreciate it if you used my referral link! I’d get $25 credited to my account. Thank you!
I left feedback for my stylist, requested her again, and I turned around and scheduled my 3rd Fix since my wardrobe really could use some help. I was more picky about what I kept. I received pants, a scarf, and three tops. The pants were too tight and I didn’t like the color, the tops were cute but not on me, but I liked the scarf a lot. The scarf was the only thing I kept. You have the option of exchanging for a different size at no charge. The size was fine but I just didn’t love the tops or pants.
For Fix #4, I requested the same stylist. This Fix was another 5/5! I don’t expect that all of the time; I think 1-2 items kept is still doing well. I received white Kut from the Kloth jeans, Henry & Belle skinny jeans in a teal color, two tops (both USA!), and some denim shorts. Nothing was from my Pinboard specifically, although I had very similar styles pinned. The Kut pants are priced the same or better as what I’m seeing on Nordstrom.
I like the clothing I’m receiving and that I’m trying things that I wouldn’t think to pick out on my own, but still feel like me. I like that I do not have to set foot in a store. I really don’t have time to do that on my own, and if I brought kids along…I wouldn’t have the greatest outcome in terms of what I selected for myself. Shopping for clothing in a store just overwhelms me and I don’t enjoy it.
Further, in a store or online, I tend to gravitate toward huge sales and the clearance section because that’s my nature. In doing so, I might miss out on nicer things that sell out quickly. For example, my stylist sent me white cropped jeans, since she saw that I had pinned some similar and she said white sell out fast in their inventory. I believe that, as I have never been able to find white jeans that I liked on my own.
So typically, I browse online and order from some retailer and either keep it or return it on my own. I will still do this for some items, but it does take time to find what I want. Working with a Stitch Fix stylist and their data has them take care of that part, too. Oh, and have you seen the style cards that come with each Fix? They are yours to keep, and I think they are really helpful.
Check out my Stitch Fix Pinterest board to see some of the items I’ve received and what I’m saving as inspiration.
P.S., Stitch Fix now has a wider range of sizes: maternity, plus (as of February), and men’s.
My Instant Pot
Is the Instant Pot worth the hype? Oh, yes ma’am, it is. I got one when it was on sale last year for around $70ish, and if you set a price alert on CamelCamelCamel, you can be notified the next time there’s a price drop.
I haven’t yet found a cookbook that I love, but check your library to see if there are any good options for you. Here is a chicken and wild rice soup recipe that is delicious (my cousin shared this one with me). Keep your owner’s manual handy for a quick reference to cooking times.
I’ve used it to make rice, soups, stews, and just cooking up meat in a faster way. Frozen chicken breasts can cook up fast, and it regularly saves a day when I fail to plan ahead for dinner time. It is particularly good for inexpensive, tough cuts of meat. I could never get stew meat as tender as I can get it in the Instant Pot when cooking it in my slow cooker or on the stove.
I make hard-cooked eggs in it, and what’s magical about using the Instant Pot is the shells peel without drama. No matter what tricks I try on the stove, peeling eggs ends up taking forever and makes the eggs look battered. Not so with the Instant Pot!
Mine is a 6-qt model, but if you have a large family, I think it is probably worth getting a larger size so you won’t run into capacity issues for really big cuts of meat or a big ol’ pot of soup. I tried doubling the chicken and rice soup recipe and the results weren’t as good. Do not overfill.
I haven’t used my slow cooker since getting the Instant Pot. Not quite ready to get rid of it, but…I think its days could be numbered around here.
Kroger Click List
I’m trying out Kroger Click List as a time and money saver. The first three pick-ups are free and after that, it is a $5 charge. I’m on my 4th pick-up and plan to continue.
You make your list online, use digital or physical coupons, choose your pick-up time, and pull in to a designated parking spot during that time frame. Call the phone number on the sign post in front of you, and someone will wheel out your groceries and load them in your vehicle.
I. Love. It.
I’m an Aldi regular, but when you think about how many times you’re handling an item at Aldi, it just is a bit time-consuming: Grab item from shelf, put in cart, load onto conveyor, bag items, put in vehicle, bring into house, put away. Ugh. Contrast that with Kroger’s service, and I’m bringing in the groceries from my garage I’m putting the item away.
Kroger’s prices are generally pretty competitive, and if I take care to schedule a pickup for when I’m already out running errands, it is a huge time-saver and sanity-saver. Not having to take three kids inside a store? Yeah, there’s cost savings there, too, when you factor in the impulse things that inevitably make their way into my cart.
One weird thing — I ordered one pack of 12-ct chicken drumsticks. They gave me 3 packs, and charged me for all 3. I contacted customer service to let them know (and haven’t heard back). I can handle substitutions since they clear it with you when you check out, but I just don’t need that many chicken legs at once. Hopefully this was an anomaly.
Bonus time-saver: I can access previous purchases and quickly add regulars to my next cart.
How about you? Any sanity savers you’re loving right now?