By summertime, the financial stress of tax time is most likely a distant memory. Summertime usually means vacation, time off from work, and more opportunities for overall discretionary spending. As a financial planner trying to help some of my clients curb the urge to spend on “frivolous” stuff, this time of year can make me tense.
The easiest way to save more of your hard earned money is to spend less (duh!). Here are four easy steps to help you spend less this summer (and all year round):
1. Unsubscribe or put any Daily Deal emails in SPAM. It is ironic that in an effort to spend less, you are probably spending more if you get hooked into a purchase through a daily email from a site like Goupon or Zulilly. Remove the temptation to buy things you do not need. If you really need something, like clothes for your kids, you can pro-actively go to these sites and get a good deal.
2. Recycle catalogs before they come into the house. I used to spend time perusing through home and clothing catalogs. It was my time to relax. Of course, I inevitably bought something along the way. In an effort to avoid clutter and any temptation to spend money, my husband started to put all catalogs directly in the recycle bin. Slowly but surely, catalogs like J. Crew stopped coming. Every once in a while I sneak a peak, but it is usually on my way to put the catalogs in the recycle bin myself. You can request to be removed from catalog lists at www.dmachoice.org.
3. Curb unnecessary Amazon purchases. Amazon sells about everything and makes it so ease to click one button and Voila! Your purchases are at your door like magic. Sadly, you eventually have to pay for all that good stuff. Before you accept all the items in your shopping cart, remember why you came to the website. Put all the other stuff on your wish list and resist the temptation to add it on to your intended purchase. If you still “need” that other stuff 24 hours later, make the purchase. The odds are that you do not need it and can remove it from your wish list.
4. Before recreational shopping, know how much you have already spent that month on discretionary items (clothing, shopping, eating out, etc.). Before you step foot in a store, check your Mint.com or other expense tracking system to see how much you have spent in the category for the month. Knowledge is power. If you have maxed out on clothing spending for the month, then you know you cannot buy more. If you have some more room in your budget, you will know exactly how much room before causing too much damage.
How much money you spend and save is completely in your control. The marketing machines that inundate us with great deals are endless. Take control of your own behavior by protecting yourself from unnecessary temptations. Not only will you have more money in the bank at the end of the summer, but you will be setting a good example for your kids and helping them learn the difference between needs and wants.