During the holiday season, spending temptations lie around every corner. Whether you’re lured into buying just one more stocking stuffer for a family member or find a half-off bargain you can’t resist for yourself, this season is rife with budget-busting expenditures.
There are plenty of temptations to break your budget throughout the year, too, from a seemingly irresistible morning latte or a daily pilgrimage to the vending machine. We all have things we spend money on unnecessarily. These budget killers can stand in the way of larger goals, such as buying a home or car, and can become obstacles to financial stability. However, you don’t have to give in to temptation. You can resist the urge to splurge. Here are eight ways to help you stick to your budget.
1. Avoid temptation.
If you want to dodge overspending, steer clear of places that will lead you to do so. Don’t tempt yourself by going to the mall for leisure or go window shopping. Try to stay away from browsing online shopping sites. Unsubscribe from store emails. (There’s only so many times you can turn down the volume on a digital bullhorn screaming about the latest releases or the next great sale before you relent.) If you must go to stores that tend to tempt, make a list, and stick to it. Even better, have items delivered so you won’t be diverted from your list as you wander the aisles. Whatever you spend on delivery charges will likely be less than your in-store splurge.
2. Take inventory of what you have.
Do you really need what’s tempting you? You may not know how many shoes, extra notebooks, or Christmas decorations you have until you take stock of what you own — and what you truly need. As you go through this process, you may find that you don’t need what you originally had your heart set on after all. You may also become more grateful for what you have.
3. Make yourself pause.
If you’re able to avoid an immediate, impulse purchase, you may reconsider it. Different experts recommend different waiting periods. Some suggest a mere 20 minutes. Others advocate for waiting 24 hours or a week. Whatever length of time you choose, it should be enough for you to thoughtfully consider what you hope to purchase.
4. Keep a wish list and plan purchases.
If you’ve paused and you still want your desired item, put it on a wish list. You could share this wish list with friends and family for your birthday or a holiday, like Christmas, and ask for the item as a gift. If you’re going to make the purchase yourself, plan for it. Set aside a certain amount of money each month or paycheck. Saving gradually will give you the cash in hand to make your purchase without worry.
5. Do the math.
This can be a sobering strategy. Compare the cost of an item to your hourly rate and calculate how long you must work to earn that item. Is the item worth a full day of work? Is it worth a week’s worth? Only you know. Regardless, doing this math will put your purchase in perspective.
6. Give yourself a fun money budget.
There are going to be times you want to buy an item that isn’t in your budget. You’re human! And you deserve to spend your money on fun items. Accounting for occasional splurges in advance will help you spend without guilt and keep your budget on track.
7. Find rewards outside of shopping.
Finish a big project. Buy yourself a treat. Feeling down. Buy yourself a treat. Do these patterns sound familiar? People often reward themselves or lift themselves up by buying things. Instead, try to find fulfilling and rewarding treats that don’t involve spending. For example, you could go for a hike with a friend or check out a good book or movie from the library.
8. Barter, borrow, or rent.
Tap into systems that allow you to spend less. Make a trade with a friend for a similar item. Or if they have it and still want it, see if you can borrow it on occasion. Or explore rental options. Any of these methods will involve spending little or less than making an outright purchase.
We hope these tips help you keep your budget on track and help you keep your financial future on track!