• Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

7 Tips to Control your Spending

Credit cards and online shopping have made it easier than ever to overindulge in spending. Amazon has a 1-click ordering button that makes it completely mindless to spend on nearly anything. Some people can easily stick to a budget they or an app like Mint can create so that they can carefully watch their spending and see where their money is going. However this approach isn’t everyone. It’s all too easy to shrug and think that buying another coffee won’t matter. That one more drink isn’t that big of a deal. Yet some habits make it it all add up far quicker than we anticipate.

Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks to control your spending throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season:

  1. Write it down! Either on your phone or by hand, write down how much you’re spending every time you are about to buy something. Many people avoid looking at their credit card balance when they’re about to spend money, but by actively tracking your spending it makes you much more mindful of where you’re putting your money. This also puts an extra step into spending that could work as a deterrent.

  2. Cut something small out. Maybe just one day during the week you change your habits and don’t buy that coffee in the morning. Maybe you order a small instead of a large. Or don’t order another glass of wine. Small steps is where to start and how people often find the most success.

  3. Pause and revisit the purchase. When you want to buy something online, leave it and come back in a few hours so that you can re-assess if you really want to buy that thing that you don’t really need. Giving something a day to sit there may reveal that you were only buying based on a mood or a feeling that has passed.

  4. Assess if what you’re looking to buy is a need or a want. Sure, you might want another sweater, but you already have 5 of them, so do you really need one? Assess what you’re feeling when you’re about to buy something. Another approach to this is to allow yourself a certain number of “want” purchases a month, so that you allow yourself to indulge, but ration out those indulgences.

  5. Use more cash. We spend far more conservatively when we are physically holding cash and counting it rather than simply using a credit card. Online shopping and credit cards thrive on just being numbers on a screen which detaches us from the real quantity that we are spending. Taking out cash every month may not rack up any credit card perk points, but it’ll help control how much you’re really spending by making it more visual when it’s physically in your hands.

  6. Meal prep and plan. A lot of spending occurs when it comes to eating out and if you live in an urban area, it’s drastically easier to eat out than cook most nights when everything is so easily accessible. Yet, we see eating as a need so it’s easy to justify going out for for a meal when the real saving occurs when we have something that has been planned to eat already waiting for us. So while meal prep has many perks, saving money is a large one.

  7. Using a rental clothing service. There seems to be a service for everything these days, but two that can actually aid you in saving money on clothing are Le Tote or Rent the Runway. It’s simply more cost effective to rent clothes and get 2-3 new outfits a week than to spend the same amount or more on only a few items you keep. Formal wear can be especially expensive, so to rent something you’re only going to wear once anyway is a smart move if you want to save your wallet from taking a hit every time you have a wedding to attend.

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