How many times have you stressed about your finances, downloaded some sexy app or joined a website that promises to fix them, only to end up in the same exact stressful situation next month? One of the problems with techie finance help? You have to learn the ins and outs of the system before you can utilize it. It'd be nice to forgo all of that and just, you know, spend less.
We've got an idea. Take a simple list, tape it to your mirror or your desktop monitor and let it be your guide. No spreadsheets, no reports, just easy steps to keep in mind as you pull out your plastic. If you can follow just a few of them, we promise you'll have a new understanding of the phrase "a penny saved is a penny earned." And you'll be saving more than pennies. (Because what costs mere pennies? Since 1935, nothing.)
Think It Over
One of the best strategies I've ever used to prevent myself from an impulse buy is allowing a few days to a week to let something I covet sink in. I tell myself that if I still feel I have to have it after a bit of time has passed, then it must be special. Guess what happens most of the time? I forget about it. I realize I don't need it, bringing me to my next Jedi mind trick…
Fashion (and Everything Else You Buy) Occurs in Cycles
The world of retail goes according to seasons. What gets released is largely based on weather and our holiday cycle. You know that, but have you actually realized what it means to your spending? Know that whatever you think you have to have THIS fall, there will be an equally must-have item next fall, and the next and the next. So not having this one thing this time is okay. You have a long shopping future ahead of you.
I have fantasy carts all over the Internet. From Nordstrom to F21. I collect clothing fantasies, which actually prevents me from collecting too much clothing reality. It may not work for everyone, but collecting what I want in an online cart lets me feel like I could have it if I really wanted, and therefore I reduce the all-too-human desire to have something just because it seems out of reach.
The Rules of Three
Will it go with at least three things in your closet, which ones? Are you likely to use or wear it three times in three months? Numbers make things concrete. When you're trying to decide, include numbers.
Keep Receipts and/or Tags
This concept is as old as retail itself. It's so tempting to pull off the tag on something you just bought that you LOVE. But if you wait, you might be happy that, after you haven't worn it, you can now return it. It's a good bet to keep receipts too. But here's a tip: many stores will let you return something without a receipt, especially higher end stores. If you're missing a tag or a receipt and the item looks pristine, it doesn't hurt to ask. Just make sure you have at least one or the other.
Make It Worth Your While
If you're out on a mission to shop and you've been at it half the day, you might end up buying something expensive to justify the trip. Put a time limit on your browsing if you're the type who will fall into the "wasted time" trap. Consider having tea or brunch during your trip. Quality quiet time to yourself or time spent with good friends is never wasted.
Say No to Retail
Look, no matter how much you want something, you've got to know that it or something similar to it will be on sale at one point or another. These days, with the proliferation of sale websites and sales in general, you never need buy anything full price. Really. Here's one savvy tip: create a separate Twitter profile that only follows your favorite stores and deal sites. You'll be creating a newsfeed that's a one-stop budget-friendly way to shop.
Make a Record—Your Way
Forget all those systems someone else put together to help you budget. As with exercise and eating healthy the way to form long lasting results is to find what works for you. What better way than to record what you spend yourself? All it takes is a ruled notebook and a classic No. 2 pencil. Of course, you can get more interesting than that if you choose.