For most of my life I was the typical impulse buyer. Even if I didn’t have the intention of buying something, if I saw a good sale, I would take advantage of it (or so I thought). Or if I was with friends and they were buying something, I probably bought something too. I would browse online for something I needed and end up buying more than what I intended.
But I’m realizing more and more that all that unnecessary expense is not just making me spend more money but is creating clutter around me. And it’s also stopping me from using the money on something that I actually need or want, like a vacation, or a piece of furniture, etc.
Here are some tips that have worked for me, maybe they can help you too.
1. Create a list of things to buy. Separate the list in categories, it can be as specific as you want. I use the app Dropkick to keep my list. I have lots of categories. Each month I go over all my categories, and move the items I need to buy that month to a category called- Purchase this month. This way I don’t really buy things I don’t need. If I really needed, it would be on the list. I can also plan ahead how much money I’m gonna need to spend this month.
2. Beauty/ Cosmetics- Make sure you don’t already have enough of the same item before going and buying another one. Why do you need more than 5 lipsticks? Or more than 2 foundations? etc. Make sure you use your products to the end before buying more. The excess becomes clutter and you end up not using some of the stuff you have, which ends up having to be thrown away when expired.
3. Clothes- Do not buy things because of a sale. Think twice if you would actually pay for that item if it was full price. It’s better to spend more on something that you really love than having 3 shirts that you don’t but that were cheap. A high quality selective wardrobe is better than a super full closet full of junk.
4. Books, Magazines, paper stuff. You don’t need another cute notebook, another magazine subscription. Be selective. Avoid having to throw away the clutter in the future by making better choices. Don’t buy another book until you have read all the books you own first.
5. Food. I keep a list on my refrigerator. When we run out of something or remember we want something for the following week, we write it down there. Then when the time comes to make a meal plan and a shopping list, you already have most of the items written down. Don’t go food shopping without a meal plan. I like to write it down the snacks as well, so I’m not just buying everything that looks good at the store. Plan is always key. And we all know that cooking more and eating out less saves a ton of money.
6. Home decor. If you don’t know where you are going to put an item, don’t buy it. A house with too much stuff brings stress and it’s more complicated to keep it clean. If you don’t already have a place for it, don’t get it. The idea of “I will make space for it” makes your home full of things that don’t have a place, and are just there because you lack any other space for it.
7. Entertainment. There is so much to do for free or for less money if you take the time to plan. Sit down and decide what do you want to do that month. Look for museums that are free on sundays, deals on concerts, outdoor festivals… if you take your time to plan, you can find lots of things to do that don’t cost much. What costs a lot is lack of a plan, impulsive decisions like, let’s eat out tonight, then that turns into drinks, etc. Or let’s go to the mall, you walk around, you buy stuff. Plan and you will find that you actually do a lot more different things as well.
8. Online shops. Don’t even browse. It’s not easy to resist the temptation. But if you do end up on an online shop, my tip is to add everything you like to the shopping cart. Now leave it, and let a few days go by. The desire to purchase most of the time goes away by then.
9. Use cash. A lot people say this, but it’s because it’s true. It’s harder to see your actual cash going away. You start thinking twice.
10. Keep track. Every week I like to go over my bank account and take notes of my expenses. It’s important to know where you money is going. How much of your expenses is actually being spend on food, gas, entertainment, clothes… you will start to see a pattern and have a better idea where to adjust.
I’m still very far from spending my money 100% correctly but I’m always looking into improving so if you have any tips, please let me know in the comments.