Responsible spending is like dieting; we all know what we should do…but most of us don’t always follow the rules, and need the occasional reminder. For example: I know I should eat more kale and quinoa. I also know that I shouldn’t eat Nutella by the spoonful. I know these things as basic dieting/healthy living rules, but it doesn’t mean I always follow them. My gentle reminder usually comes when I put on my old trusty pair of “loose” jeans only to find they are looking more like jeggings. Goodbye (for now) Nutella.
Same thing with spending. Yes, we know we all know the basic rules: buy on sale, comparison shop, set a budget, etc. But we are only human, so we occasionally get a little lax. Until that day you look at your checking account and think “Where in the world did all my money go this month…I didn’t even buy anything!?”. Read the below tips for smart spending…then read them again in three months when your wallet starts feeling light again.
1. Avoid impulse buying:
- Make a list: Making a list before going to the grocery store helps reduce impulse decisions.
- Wait: If you want something that’s considerably more expensive than your average expenditure, wait 24 hours before purchasing. If you still want it after a day, then go back and get it. If you’ve forgotten about it, then it was never meant to be.
- Set a limit at events: This is especially true for parents of young kids. One-time events like shows, circuses, carnivals, and amusement parks gets everyone excited. Before going to an event, set a limit on how much you (and your family) can spend. This will cut down on the junk and force everyone to prioritize and think before spending.
2. Focus on saving when shopping:
- Bring coupons: I’m not a coupon cutter, so this is one of my personal goals too. Try to make a habit of looking out for the significant coupons and discounts. When you get junk mail from one of your favorite stores, don’t automatically throw it away (again, this is a note to self). At least check out the offer. Those 15% discount codes hidden with the rest of the mail can mean big savings.
- Comparison shop: Whether it’s food, electronics or household goods, make a point of comparison shopping. Always at least check out the generic versions; more often then not they are just as good as the expensively branded one.
- Buy in bulk: When you can, buy items in bulk. It can be annoying to store, but can you really ever have enough toilet paper, frozen pizzas or hand sanitizer?
3. Think before you buy:
- Research: I’m not suggesting you spend hours researching every $7 purchase, but put the time in for the bigger ticket items. Read the reviews, watch online videos and ask your friends for recommendations.
- Consider other options: Before buying something, investigate if you can rent, or borrow from the library or a friend. Can you buy it used and save some money?
4. Take advantage of everyday savings:
- Save on power: So much money is spent each day on power. Make it a point to turn off the lights, TV and unplug electrical appliances you aren’t using when you leave the room.
- Movie nights: What used to be a cheap night out now almost costs the same as a weekend getaway. A family of four going out for dinner and a movie can cost upwards of $200, especially if you add in the necessary staples like the 45 oz soda and jumbo popcorn. This is not to say that you should never go to the movies. Just occasionally make it a “movie night” at home. Pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, and rent a movie or watch Titanic again (Fun fact: Titanic is rated #1 Most Watched Movie of All Time, by IMDb).
- Carpool: Gas prices are always on the rise, and often times not calculated in one’s everyday expenses or factored in when planning an outing. Carpool with other parents the next time you have to travel for your son’s soccer game.
This article was written by Liz Frazier Peck from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Santander Bank does not provide financial, tax or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal or financial advice. Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.