Not to brag, but I have a pretty killer closet. My bank account on the other hand? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be so eager to show it off to anyone. I can fully admit that I am shopaholic–I can’t resist a sale and even worse, once I decide that I want something I will literally stop at nothing to get it. No joke, I skipped lunch for pretty much all of October and November to save enough to buy a Sandro coat. I needed it.
Now you’re probably judging me and that’s fine. I don’t always make the best financial decisions; I realize that I will have to live–albeit, very stylishly–with the consequences. But this year, more than any other, I’m truly committed to curbing my spending. That’s not to say that I won’t shop anymore–I am smart enough to admit that that is simply not a possibility for me right now. That being said, I buy a ton of crap I never wear and wind up selling it for a fraction of what I paid or just giving it away for free and that’s really what I want to stop. I only want to buy things that I really love and will actually use. The end goal is to spend less and save more–did I mention I have a kid who should probably have a college fund?–so here’s how I’m going to do it.
Note: Obviously I recognize I’m not the most qualified person to be doling out money tips, so rest assured many of the following came from people much wiser in the financial department than me.
1. Sleep on any purchase that isn’t 100% necessary. No milk in the fridge. Necessary. Another coat just because you’re obsessed with shearling this season? Not so much. The point here is that after a few hours of contemplation, most people can (and will) talk themselves out of impulse purchases.
2. Always price compare. Decided you absolutely need an item? Don’t just buy it the first place you see it. Use sites like Shopstyle or Google Shopping to see which online retailer is selling it at the lowest price. Also, always search Google or RetailMeNot to see if the retailer you’re buying from has a coupon code that could save you more money.
3. Keep a log. Just like with weight loss, seeing what you’ve spent in a day/week/month can be just the shock you need to cut back. Last year, I bought 10 cashmere sweaters in the span 6 weeks just because they were on sale. If I’d seen myself buying almost 2 sweaters each week, I maybe/hopefully would’ve stopped myself.
4. Save your receipts. I often experience buyer’s remorse, but I hate returning things. Shipping things back is a pain, but having to return an item to a store is truly mortifying for me. I just feel so judged. I am sometimes (often) purposefully careless with receipts just so I have an excuse for avoiding the return process. I know this is horrible, so keeping track of receipts will be key for me this year so I can get that money back in my bank account if I have any second thoughts.
5. Don’t shop alone. This tip may be specific to me because I love shopping solo. Why? There’s no one to talk me out of something I love in that moment and there’s no shame when I spend way more on something than it’s probably worth. Those two reasons, however, are exactly why you should always shop with someone–especially someone who is a cheapskate!–if you want to spend less and save more.
6. Treat your savings account like another bill. Every month when my paycheck arrives I pay all of my bills immediately. That’s good. What’s bad, though, is I see whatever is left over as my shopping cash. The trick I’m going to try in 2015 is putting my savings account on my bills checklist and making it mandatory to “pay” it every month just like my rent, cell phone bill and utilities.
7. Get a hobby. Once upon a time, I would come home after work and read a book. More and more often, however, I come home and browse the Web. It doesn’t take long for me to find a sale or Pinterest photo and then bam, I’m buying something I could totally live without. I love to read and cook, so I’m aiming to do more of those two things–and find other hobbies–to replace what has become comfort/boredom shopping.
8. Set a shopping budget. This one may seem simple, but not many people actually do it. If, at the beginning of each month or even before a trip to your favorite store, you say ‘I’m only going to spend $200,’ you probably will stick to that amount because you’ll feel bad for breaking your own rule. It’s not completely iron clad because I know I’ve talked myself into things I couldn’t truly afford, but holding yourself accountable to an actual number is a step in the right direction.
9. Sell items you don’t want. Chances are any shopaholic has a few (or a bunch) of items collecting dust in the back of the closet because they never get any use. Rather than holding onto items you don’t wear, sell them on sites like Like Twice, ThredUp or eBay. Then deposit the money you make directly into you savings account.
10. Consider consignment stores and/or resellers. Have your heart set on something? Rather than buying it brand new at full price, check out consignment stores, websites and eBay. Many times you’ll be able to find barely worn and like new items for significantly less than the retail price.
11. Only shop sober! You laugh, but many a dollar has been wasted after a few too many glasses of wine late at night. If you’re drinking, hide your credit cards, disable auto-pay and/or make sure your computer is dead so you won’t be tempted to shop away under the influence.
12. Keep a list. If there are items you do want/need, keep them in a running list. Why? When there’s a sale, you can look specifically for those items and those items alone. Many of us are so reluctant to let a good sale slip by without getting something; a shopping list will keep you focused on specific items which is much better than browsing and buying just any ol’ thing because it just so happens to be on sale.
Have any other money-saving or spending less tips and tricks that I should know about? Please share them in the comments!