Spending less is something we all strive to do, and each of us has different strategies for keeping our sticky fingers out of our bank accounts. I know better than to window shop when I don’t need to buy anything, and I try to avoid grocery shopping when I’m hungry. And while it’s easy to save money on products or services that don’t really excite me — fancy lattes, mani/pedis, and the latest gadget, as examples — my self-control is tested by fashion, home goods and See’s Candies. To avoid impulse purchases, I’ve taken the following six actions to keep myself out of trouble.
Unsubscribing from emails
This seems like a small, insignificant action, but I swear it’s made the biggest impact on my spending. I’m impressionable and impulsive, so seeing daily emails in my inbox advertising deals and sales from my favorite stores probably resulted in a purchase 20-30 percent of the time. The worst emails were the ones highlighting new arrivals; while I wouldn’t bite on the full-price purchase, I’d watch the item until a sale or deal came up and then make my move. This is bad because I fixated on this item over a period of time when my energy could have been better applied elsewhere.
Un-following fashion bloggers on Insta
I used to follow Extra Petite and Wendy’s Lookbook on Instagram, and found myself wanting to shop their looks whenever their perfectly-curated images showed up in my feed. Recognizing the influence these images had on my feelings about what I already owned, I decided to stop following them. Like retail newsletters, this “out of site, out of mind” strategy has done wonders for my impulse control.
Having a BHAFG
Never heard of that acronym? It’s a mash-up between a term used by my previous employer — Big Hairy Audacious Goal — with my addition of “F” for Financial. Having specific goals is an effective motivator for me and for the last two years, my husband and I have been funneling our money toward a big one. Since I want to put every last penny into this pursuit, I’m less inclined to spend money on stuff we don’t need because I’d rather reach our goal faster.
Seriously. I’m astonished by all the ads on websites when I open a page in incognito or through a browser without Adblock. Like I said, I’m impulsive and if I see the same pair of shoes while reading a blogpost that I looked at an hour earlier, I’m likely to desire them more and make a purchase. Plus, ads are just annoying.
Practicing yoga at home
I used to love me some studio time, but after a 108-day at-home yoga challenge last year, I realized I prefer the privacy and flexibility of my home practice. It’s less expensive and I can get my practice knocked out before the sun comes up. We live in a very small town about 30 minutes away from my preferred studios, so getting to class and back takes time and gas money.
Discovering the minimalist movement and incorporating some of its values into my day-to-day living has transformed my relationship with things. I’ve given away a ton of stuff (read about it here) which has made everything from tidying my house to getting ready in the morning much simpler and faster. While I still enjoy shopping, I no longer purchase things for the thrill of acquiring something new; I’m much more thoughtful about what I spend my money on, and spend a lot less overall as a result.
What are your strategies for spending less?