If you’re like most people, you like spending money. I 100% fall into the category of people who get a thrill doing it – I’m a natural spender. I like the feeling of knowing I earned my money, and I equally love the feeling of spending it. Long story short, spending money makes me very, very happy. But when you start a blog about paying off $50,000 of debt in a short amount of time, you need to get creative to fight the urge to spend your hard-earned cash.
Pay Yourself First
I have a confession: I didn’t know what “paying yourself first” meant for the longest time. Were others giving themselves a pass to spend money on themselves? Why in the world would they do that? It took listening to multiple personal finance podcasts to realize that paying yourself first means automatically putting back money into your savings/investment accounts before you even have the choice to spend it. GENIUS. This method works perfectly for people like me because if there’s money in my account, I WILL SPEND IT. But if you take it away from me even before it hits my account, it’s like it was never there.
For student loans specifically, I use an app called ChangEd for automating student loan payments. ChangEd rounds up every dollar you spend, takes the change and holds it until you reach $100. Once $100 is met, it sends a check directly to your student loan servicer. I literally do not have to do any work. CHA-CHING.
Don’t Tempt Yourself
If you’re like me/a shopaholic in any form, you may enjoy walking around stores just because. That may sound bizarre, but if I’m bored, I’ll opt to walk around Target for an hour to kill time. It seriously brings me great joy to walk every aisle, browse, stand in an aisle for a half hour comparing products, find each clearance section, etc. I could do this all afternoon. But guess what happens when I do this? I inevitably buy something. It’s the dreaded Target curse: I walk in to buy q-tips and BAM! I walk out with a new shirt, a bowl that was on clearance, a bottle of wine AND those super cute salt shakers shaped like dogs (everyone needs a pair, right?!)
So how do I stop spending money? Simply eliminate the root cause – I stop going to Target unless I absolutely need to. If I were trying to lose weight for example, would I go to my nearest donut shop or buffet in my spare time? No. It works the same way for spending – do not tempt yourself by stepping into a store unless you need to. And if you have to, go directly to the item you need to purchase and walk to the cash register ASAP (#selfcontrol). It will be the fastest 10 minutes in Target of your life, but will save you SO MUCH MONEY, I promise.
Find Alternatives to Eating Out + Entertainment
One of my biggest budget line items is eating out and entertainment. When I didn’t limit my spending on food, I could easily spend $500 a month at restaurants. That’s why when I cut my restaurants budget down, I needed to find alternative solutions without sparing my social life, as much of the time spent in restaurants was with friends.
Instead of meeting at a restaurant with friends, why not host everyone at your house? Last night, for instance, one of my best friends had my girlfriends and I over to her home for her birthday. Instead of spending a ridiculous amount going out, we opted to stay in, watch a movie on TV (also a money saver!), paint our nails and enjoy each others’ company. We are able to do this as long as we want (since we don’t feel like we need to leave a restaurant ASAP) and as cheaply as possible (splitting take out and bringing our own wine, which is $5-10/bottle versus $6-12/glass). Let’s bring back welcoming others into our home and girls/guys nights in (GNIs, my favorite!)
If You Need To Spend, Do Your Research
Tis’ the season for Holiday shopping, which means there’s no denying that I’m going to have to spend money. If you need to spend money on gifts, I recommend doing your research before automatically purchasing something. There are so many great apps out there that help you save money with very little work such as Ebates, Shopkick, and Ibotta. By spending less than three minutes on Ebates today (while standing in line at the cash register, mind you) I was able to get 8% cash back on a purchase at Express for much-needed work clothes. Also, utilize Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals as much as possible – I was just able to score a gift at 20% off AND free shipping, whereas I’d normally be paying extra money for shipping alone (the worst).
In the end, resist the urge, friends. I know it’s hard when there are sales on EVERYTHING this time of year, but thinking about your decision first and shopping around can save you so much money if you simply put the time into it. Do you have any extra tips on resisting the urge to spend money? What are your best resources for saving money if you need to spend it?