Tips to Avoid Spending More Than You Plan

It happens to all of us — more often than we care to admit. But it happens. Nowadays, it’s so easy to spend money with a click of a button or swipe of a card. We are all bombarded constantly by marketing messages and the purchase suggestions are often times spot on. You’re not alone and, yes, they really all are plotting against you but hopefully these tips will help.

Tip #1: Make a list

Whether it’s going to the grocery store or shopping for Christmas presents, it pays to have a list. A list is essentially a plan you create in advance. It is written documentation of what you decided was best before the atmosphere and 20% sale signs had a chance to influence you.

Tip #2: Curb your spending

If you have trouble staying in your lane with spending, make a conscious effort to set up curbs for your yourself. For in-person shopping or spending on experiences like going out with friends, set up guardrails for yourself by bringing only a certain amount of money with you. If excessive online shopping is your issue, consider removing your credit card from online sites so it isn’t so easy to make purchases. The added inconvenience of having to find a card will give you a bit more time to think about what you plan to buy.

Tip #3: Sleep on it

Have you ever looked back at the items you “Save for later”? Did you miss out by not making those purchases? The purpose of this tip is just to give you a little bit more time to think about the purchase. If you’re able to delay the purchase, perhaps the next day you’ll realize you were caught up in the moment adding those extra few things into your cart.

Tip #4: Calculate the work hours to afford it

How many hours do you have to work to earn $100? Do you ever think about the cost of things in terms of how many hours of work it takes to afford them? It might make you think twice if you realize you’ve spent an entire day’s worth of your life energy for an hour or two at the bar/casino/restaurant. For items that you purchase on credit, be sure to consider the final cost of the item after finance charges and fees.

Tip #5: Consider the long term value

It can also be helpful to think of the value of things you purchase in terms of utility — how many times can you use it before it breaks or needs to be replaced? Similarly, think about what a purchase will be worth to you after 10 months or 10 years. Is it worth it?

Tip #6: Don’t wait to the last minute

Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and back-to-school shopping should not come as a surprise for you or your budget. If you are able to plan ahead for these occasional expenses, you’ll have more time to comparison shop and find the best deals. For more expensive situations, this will also give you the option to save small amounts over time or spread purchases out over time so you can buy what you want with cash.

Tip #7: Consider your other financial goals

I get it… planning ahead and saving in advance for what you want is not something we are used to doing. But what’s the trade off? If you decide NOT to buy that thing you don’t really need, what could those dollars otherwise go towards? Remember your big picture strategy for spending and all of the important things you want to fund to bring you more happiness.