5 Lazy Ways to Stop Overspending
This is a guest post from Kim of Thrifty Little Mom fame.
If you’re a spender like me, sticking to a budget can feel like a constant internal struggle. We know what we’ve budgeted but sometimes we find an amazing deal that we just can’t pass up! Sometimes we forget an expense we should have planned for. Then there are times when we just need a “treat yo self” moment. The struggle is real. We really DO want to get our finances under control but it doesn’t exactly come “naturally” to us like others.
I have friends who love budgeting, spreadsheets, and calculators. I get tired and overwhelmed just thinking about that stuff. They remind me of those people who are clean freaks. They thrive on having a perfectly neat and clean house. I envy them. I WISH I had some kind of genetic coding that made me that way but I don’t. Therefore, I have to come up with creative, even lazy ways to stop overspending. Here are some of the strategies that have helped me and I think a few might just help you too!
Prepaid Debit Cards
Most major card companies out there offer some kind of pre-paid debit card. By loading these cards with your budgeted amount and avoiding credit cards, you know that you can’t overspend or you’ll face the embarrassing conversation with the cashier about your declined card. It’s a simple tactic to control spending while still giving you the freedom to shop anywhere from in-store to online.
I find this method works the best for me! In fact, it helped my husband and I pay off $93,000 in debt in just under 2 years. With this system, you simply decide how much you can spend per month in various categories such as groceries, clothing, eating out & allowances. Then you go to the bank, get out the cash, divide it up between categories and only spend the cash you have. Once the envelope is empty, you can’t spend anymore! I find that using a small coupon accordion file works great and you can find them at your local dollar store.
Hide the credit cards
When I started using the envelope system, I dumped my credit cards in a drawer at my house for 6 months before I had the courage to cut them up. If they aren’t in your wallet it doesn’t take ANY willpower to avoid using them. You can’t pull them out and use them impulsively! Super lazy, yet super effective!
Make it a game
When we were trying to pay off our debt I had to make saving money a game. My goal was to have cash left in my grocery envelope every month. On the last day of the month, I would take the leftover cash to bank and apply it to the principle on our mortgage. Month by month I would try to see if I could save more than the month before by stretching the food we had, using coupons and take advantage of freebies.
Give Yourself the Leftovers
Once we were done paying off debt, my husband didn’t want me to get slack about staying on budget so he told me that I could keep what was left in the envelopes for myself. That was pretty exciting for me! If you are extrinsically motivated like me, rewards are awesome! Come up with something you really enjoy doing to pamper yourself and consider giving that to yourself as a reward each month that you avoid overspending. For you, that might be getting your hair done, getting a mani/pedi or a massage. It might even be going out to dinner with friends. Think of something that will really motivate you, but be sure the celebration doesn’t end up causing you to overspend. Plan ahead for your reward when you plan your budget. Only cash in on the reward if you stick with the plan.
These are the 5 lazy ways I’ve used to help control my impulse spending. The spending battle is not easy but by simply manipulating my ability to spend or by rewarding myself I find I can do it with minimal effort. I also don’t end up beating myself up about not being great at budgeting. Work with your strengths to overcome your weaknesses and you’ll feel empowered each and every day to accomplish your goals. Don’t feel like you need to rely on willpower alone! Make it easy for yourself to stay on track!
Kim writes about pursuing a thrifty DIY lifestyle on her blog ThriftyLittleMom.com! She lives in Atlanta, GA with her engineer husband, her talkative 4-year-old son and their Beagle named Bit.