In our house we are getting serious about paying off our debt and saving money. Funny how as soon as you tell yourself that you can’t spend anything, all you want to do is buy stuff! For real, though.
I’ve long known that for us it’s the little stuff here and there that adds up, but it’s so easy to justify those small purchases. So when we cut out all extra spending recently, I had to find a way to deal with the urges to buy things. “Retail therapy” really does work in the short run, but since it’s not in line with my overall values I know I’ll regret it later. On the other hand, I know that if I just flat out deny myself, I’ll eventually feel oppressed or make excuses as to why a particular situation doesn’t count.
This is what I began doing instead: when the urge to spend money arrives, I think about what’s causing it. What is that craving really for? And how can I satisfy it in another way?
For example, the other night I had a strong craving for ice cream. (Let’s be honest, that happens every day.) But not only is that unhealthy, we didn’t have any ice cream in the house so I would have had to buy some. My first instinct was to suggest a frozen yogurt outing for the family. But I thought about it a bit more and realized what I really wanted was something cold and creamy. I had all the stuff at home to make a smoothie, so that’s what I did, and I was happy. Honestly, even just applesauce would have satisfied the craving at that point.
Another example: I recently began feeling dissatisfied with the state of our house. I got all these ideas on how to refresh it, but they involved buying things: a new couch, a rolling cart, a rug, etc. So after realizing that I couldn’t do that, I figured out that what I really wanted was a bit of a change. Decluttering and reorganizing/repurposing what I do have will give me that same sort of high. So I scheduled a decluttering day, and for the things that I do actually need to add to our house, I’m searching the free section of Craigslist and Freecycle.
So far this strategy is helping immensely. It’s also fun to keep track of the things that I didn’t buy, that I ordinarily would have, so I can see exactly how much we’ve saved. What are your best tips for saving money?