What a rush to be able to buy whatever you want whenever you want it! Instead of shopping around or waiting for the price to drop significantly, you pull out your trusty credit card and purchase your item that day. You walk into the store, select the item that you want and walk out with very little concern for your finances. That is, until you get your monthly credit card statement and see how much these spur-of-the-moment purchases have cost you.
From the five dollar lattes you drink on the way to work to the new pair of shoes you saw in the department store advertisement, these purchases give you a sense of immediate gratification after you buy them but once you consume them or take them home, you realize just how little value they add to your life. Does it really require that much effort to brew your own cup of coffee every morning? Couldn’t you buy a less expensive, yet well-made pair of shoes?
The fact of the matter is that, “Yes, you can enjoy everything you did in the past without squandering away a fortune to do so.” It’s really easy but it requires patience. For an entire month, write down every penny that you spend. This includes the newspaper you purchase Sunday morning to the weekly lunch you enjoy with your friends. Once you have a better idea of how much money is leaving your bank account each month, you can change your approach to spending. You can make small changes each week to improve the state of your finances without feeling discouraged or deprived.
Here’s how you can live a gratifying lifestyle without going bust:
- Come up with a long-term goal that you want to save for. Maybe it’s a trip to Europe or a new car. It can even be a necessary expense like a house repair or braces for your child. Whatever your goal is, write it down and figure out how much you will need to save to make it happen. Divide this number by 12 and this will give you a monthly goal to use as a guide. If you want to figure out how much you will need to save weekly, divide that number by 4. Then begin identifying different areas of your life where you can cut back.
- Allow yourself to have one small treat every time you meet your monthly goal. Try to choose a reward that costs $20 or less. This can be a movie night with your family courtesy of the free rental code Redbox sent you or a homemade loaf of banana bread from your local farmer’s market. The point is to be creative and to save money. If your treat is free, it’s even better.
- Purchase quality items that don’t require constant replacing. Some purchases require that you spend more money initially but they last for a really long time. Others have lifetime guarantees. These items are the ones worth splurging on. For example, L.L. Bean and Mountain Hardwear offer a lifetime guarantee on their products. That means that if your new jacket or backpack wears out before its time, you get a new one free of charge!
Immediate gratification is great but costly. You can still live the life you dreamed of by changing your mindset when it comes to making unnecessary purchases. Put that credit card away and put on your thinking cap. Instead of making excuses for not being able to afford your dream vacation, put your money into a savings account with a high interest rate and watch your money grow. Those extra grande lattes are doing nothing for your figure anyway!
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Filed Under: Personal Finance
About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.