Ever wonder why it’s so hard for you to stick to your budget or save enough to reach your savings goals every month? Why do we buy the things we don’t need so impulsively? Shopping is pretty much another form of entertainment these days! Our money goals can sometimes feel insurmountable because we are up against a lot of odds thanks to our consumer-driven society. Don’t let these common blunders bust your budget!
It shouldn’t surprise you that big companies spend millions of dollars on marketing because they know their return on investment is going to yield them some very high returns. When you walk into a store it is not only a product or service you are being sold but also an experience. From the lighting and colors, to the smells and sounds! Marketing is terrible for those of us trying to avoid impulse buys, which is why I try to stay out of the mall! Lesson: Avoidance.
Keeping Up With The Joneses
No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s likely you are going to have friends in the same life stage that are doing things or buying things that you can not yet afford. It is human nature to want the same things that other people have whether it’s to fit in or just the fact that you want to share in the same luxuries. It’s also hard to keep your emotions out of buying decisions when you already know what others have. Lesson: Be true to yourself.
Feeling Blue? Or Hungry? Or Awesome?!
Have you ever gone shopping to make yourself feel better or went through the drive-thru instead of taking the time to make a meal because you were just too hungry? Who cares if your clothing budget is only $100 when you really deserve those $200 heels! How we feel can influence our purchasing decisions and meeting our immediate needs seems to come first before any long-term effects are considered. Lesson: Put in systems to keep you on track even when your emotions are in charge.
Money Tricks and Tools
I am the worst when it comes to emotional spending! Even with knowing everything that I know about finance and investing, I still find myself buying those heels or something else I don’t need because of the pretty packaging. I do these things and then I justify it in my mind telling myself I deserve it.
Here are a few tricks and tools that I use to make sure I stay the course with my money goals…
- I pay myself first. 401(k) plan deductions, investment accounts, and whatever else you want to fund to meet your savings goals, you are much more likely to meet those goals when you fund them as soon as you receive your paycheck. Save first and spend the rest.
- I set up two checking accounts. One account is where I pay all of our bills out of, the second is for discretionary spending. This helps me from overspending and ensuring all the bills are paid on time.
- I try my best at meal planning but I’m the first to admit that life gets crazy with three kids, trying to eat healthy, all while trying to do it on a budget. I recently started using e-meals where I pay $60/year for access to a variety of meal plans every week. I choose the meals I want to cook and it puts everything into a handy little shopping list for me. It doesn’t matter if you follow a Paleo diet, Gluten Free, or just want something kid friendly because they have any menu plan you can dream up! This handy program has on average saved me about $100 a week on my grocery bill and I’m wasting a lot less food.
- There are a few really great budgeting and money tracking apps out there and I’ve tried a lot of them. They all have their pros and cons and I like them each for different reasons. Mint is great as a visual reminder to see where you stand with your budget. Personal Capital is by far my favorite since it gives me a great overview of my net worth and allows me to drill down into my investment accounts.
These are a few things that I have done to keep myself on track and now with only one solid source of income coming into our household, it is even more important that I stay on par with our budget. What are some things that you do in order to save money and stay on track?
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