Money Basics Part 3: Avoid Spending

Our culture and everything around us are constantly pressuring us all to spend money and buy things constantly, whether we’re conscious of it or not. It can be something as obvious as a screaming, obnoxious radio ad, to something as subtle as the arrangement of the grocery store. Companies spend millions figuring out how to get you to spend millions, so this can be a huge challenge to overcome. This post is going to focus on “frivolous” spending, or spending you yourself have decided you don’t need to do anymore.

Now that you’ve done your budget, and figured out where your money is going that it shouldn’t be, and where it should be going, you probably have a clearer picture of what you need to avoid. On most money-saving articles, they use the example of Starbuck’s, and damned if that isn’t a perfect example. Those place are everywhere! So I’m using that example, too. I tried to branch out, but faberge eggs just aren’t as prolific.

Even concerning yourself with your spending is more than many people can manage

Even concerning yourself with your spending is more than many people can manage

So let’s say you go to Starbuck’s every day, or several times a week, and that’s one of the line items you’ve decided to banish or reduce in your budget. If you have a habit like this, you may have trouble quitting cold-turkey. Certain actions become automatic in our natures, like me telling people how to live their lives (not that I’m stopping), so you need to figure out what triggers you to want your Starbuck’s. It could be as simple as seeing the location.

Changing up your routine can help you stop these automatic processes. For instance, you could take a different route to work, sleep a little later so you don’t have time to stop, and/or make your own fancy coffee at home (which would probably be healthier, if you’ve been buying those mocha-caramel-diabeetus milkshakes they call coffee). Maybe you just can’t bear Mondays, so cutting back to once a week to make Mondays bearable might be acceptable in your budget.

As you all know, I have a thrift store fixation. I love digging through racks and bins for hidden treasures and horrors. Thrift stores are very helpful at cutting expenses, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you need it, and a bunch of cheap crap still adds up to too much spending. I had to learn to be MUCH pickier in my picking, especially with clothes. It also helps that my favorite thrift store moved 45 minutes away from me. Limited access means limited spending also.

Do you do too much online shopping? That, to me, is insidious, because it’s so easy to fill an imaginary shopping cart with infinite capacity. I’ve been known to utter “Just $5 more for free shipping!” just like anyone else. Depending on your issues there are a few different strategies you can employ: have a friend put parental controls on the websites you frequent most to lock you out of them, and don’t let them tell you the password; limit yourself to a certain number of items per month, a certain dollar figure, or one shopping day per month. If you aren’t staring at all those adorable things all month long, you’ll have much less pressure on you to buy.

Again, you know your habits, and can hopefully figure out what circumstances exist that are spurring you to spend, and what you can substitute instead. Like when I feel like snacking but I’m not hungry, I chew gum instead. Try reading blogs about puppies instead of shopping. (You should also probably try to reduce the number of ads you see online, because they are targeted toward you and your habits. Here’s an article by someone much smarter than me in this subject).

Simply avoiding the places you spend too much money can reduce your overall spending significantly. Find ways to substitute cheaper or free activities (like reading my old blog posts!), or distract yourself from your impulses. The main trick is being self-aware and honest. We all have those little voices in the back of our heads saying “Just order pizza for dinner”, or “You deserve some new shoes/tech gadget!”. The more you get out of the habit of spending, the quieter those voices get, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Some of the hardest spending to avoid is with friends, but this post got too long, so that’s a separate post. Until next time, stay thrifty my friends! (<—-See what I did there?! I hope no one breaks a rib laughing at my wit!)

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May 20, 2013. Tags: , , , . Thriftiness is Cool.

3 Comments

  1. Money Basics Part 4: Spending with Friends | My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] See also: Part 1: Budgeting, Part 2: Prioritizing, and Part 3: Avoid Spending […]

  2. Money Basics Part 5: Reduce Bills | My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] already discussed how to avoid spending, so now it’s time to reduce spending overall. I’m going to tell you right now, this […]

  3. New Year, New Goals | My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] Money Basics Part 3: Avoid Spending […]

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