One of the things I keep hearing from family and friends regarding goals for 2019 is saving more money. I am no different. I’ve been thinking about this and doing some research on how to approach my personal finances with this goal in mind. I believe it takes a lot of work; changing unsuccessful habits and forming better ones, mindful spending, and specific goal setting. At least in my case, it’s just not enough to say, “I want to save money”. Without something more tangible in mind, like future home ownership, it’s not as easy to hold yourself accountable.
In doing some of my research, I came across a great article published by The Simple Dollar called “100 Great Ways to Save Money”. It shares a variety of useful tips on how to shave off pointless expenditures, maximize on everyday savings, and change the way we approach saving and spending money. Many of the suggestions include spending more time on rather basic activities are healthy, fun, and often free. For example, going for a walk with a friend. Reading more. Bringing a sack lunch to work. Quitting smoking. Drinking plain water. Having a coffee date instead of cocktails. While not necessarily the most glamorous, these ideas are certainly much kinder to your wallet and beneficial to your overall health and wellness.
So those are more simple tweaks you can make, but for loftier goals, such as buying a car or starting a business, I think you have to shift your mentality about spending. I personally need to work on this and The Simple Dollar article references some mental tools you can employ to achieve these bigger goals.
Whenever you pick up an item and add it to your cart or to take it to the checkout, stop for 10 seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis.
Hamm, T. (2018, December 12). 100 Great Ways to Save Money. Retrieved from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/
Hamm also mentions the “30 Day Rule”, which is essentially waiting to decide on a purchase after 30 days with the possibility of losing interest in said purchase, aka realizing it is unnecessary. Curtailing impulsive, supposedly stress relieving shopping is something many of us need to work on in such a commercially consumptive society. This is especially resonant with me because I definitely find myself in the pattern of buying for brief happiness or because “I had a tough day and I deserve it”. Not really a very healthy solution.
That said, I do not intend to become a penny pincher or a miser. I think if you put out generosity in the world, it comes back to you, whether through gratitude, good karma, or in some tangible form. It feels good to give, whether to loved one, a stranger, or a charity. Money is never poorly spent (within reason) when it benefits someone else. I do also believe that it’s definitely okay to treat yourself, as long as it’s well thought out and within your means.
Other tools that might be helpful when it comes to budgeting is using an Excel template to track purchases. There are a lot available for free on the internet. Personally, I would rather pull out my eyes than do that, so software programs like Mint is a bit more user friendly as I’m not a numbers person and I don’t like the tedium of entering numbers or micromanaging every expenditure. Find what works for you. Even if you’re simply looking at your bank and credit card statements multiple times a day. You can’t just put your head and the sand and hope the bills don’t come, because they will!
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