Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Easiest way to spend less money


I’m pretty sure lots of people make a new year’s resolution to spend less (or get out of debt, or save more). It’s hard to live in our society without feeling a constant need to buy SOMEthing, but most of us don’t have the funds to support all that consumerism.

I’m going to share a little secret that always leads to less spending. It’s so easy, anyone can do it. It even has the added benefit of giving you more free time. 

Are you ready? I'm going to whisper now. 

Stop shopping.

I know, it seems obvious. It IS obvious. You can’t spend money buying things if you’re not shopping for things. And chances are good that you won’t even miss all the things you didn’t buy, because you never saw them in the first place. They never called to you. You never had to find all the reasons to need them.

It might be hard at first, because you’ll feel like you’re missing out on something. You might wonder how you can save money if you’re not shopping the sales. But I promise you’ll save even more—100%, in fact—if you DON’T shop at all.
  
OK, so in reality, you’re not going to stop shopping altogether. We all have some real needs (you can't avoid the grocery store), but it can be hard to separate need from want. Good reasons for needing a new pair of jeans might be that you’ve lost weight and yours are too big, or you’ve literally worn holes in your old ones. I’ll even go along with "tragically out of style"—but that can't be confused with "no longer the absolute newest hottest thing that just came out 5 minutes ago."

I like to shop. Especially for shoes and interesting things for my home. But there are a few simple things I do to help me shop less. You might want to try some of these ideas:

Unsubscribe from all those email advertisements that fill your inbox. If you actually need something, you can subscribe temporarily to a few lists that might deliver a good deal in the next few weeks. But once you’ve made the purchase, unsubscribe again.

Unsubscribe from mail-order catalogs. These things waste paper and pack the landfills, AND they feed the desire to purchase more stuff. You can go to catalogchoice.org to take yourself off the mailing lists. Your postman (or woman) will thank you!

Forget flash sales, Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. The fact that these deals are expiring soon just makes you feel pressured to buy them, and you WILL end up spending money on things that you didn't even know you needed (electric quesadilla maker, anyone?) or that you probably wouldn't have bought otherwise. It's a classic example of a great deal that would save you even more money if you had never seen it.

Don’t go shopping except to purchase something you actually need and intend to buy. Buy it, and then move on with your life. Shopping is not supposed to be a hobby. If you can’t think of anything better to do, then spend your new free time hanging out with friends or family—but without shopping.

Reduce your exposure to advertising. I know, that sounds like some kind of joke. How do you live in the US and escape advertising? I don’t think you can escape it, but there are a few things you can do to reduce it. Don’t spend lots of time on Internet sites that feed the want—especially celebrity news and gossip (just read fun and helpful blogs like this one! no ads!). DVR your TV shows and skip the commercials. Think about what you're reading—if you have a hard time resisting the latest fashion trends, then you should stay away from fashion magazines. 

It's funny. After you get out of the shopping habit, you kind of get to be happier with what you already have, because you're not constantly thinking about what else you need to go with it. 

And with all that extra money, you can get out and do something fun—that doesn't involve shopping!




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