Save Money Without Willpower

August 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm (Happiness, Money, Tips)

There was a time when money in my pocket was never safe. Young and restless, I would drive all over the place, my wallet purging at small impulse buys that added up fast. In two hours, I could lose $40 to Starbucks drinks, Taco Bell, and random trips to Wal-Mart. I would go in, intending to buy maybe $10 worth of food and come out with 50 dollars’ worth of stuff. I hated having my money slip through my fingers so easily.

I tried countless times to refrain from spending money but it was always a strain. I wanted to spend money on new art supplies or books or TV boxsets or cute little finds at the thrift store (surprisingly, I never blew money on clothes). I eventually read ThinkSimpleNow’s article on the hidden side of what you own and it hit me at last that I was becoming extremely materialistic. I had always thought of materialistic types as those who aspire to gobble up money and indulge in Porsches and mansions but my little $5 purchases were still things. And it hit me that I didn’t need 70% of that stuff.

Trying to allieve myself of materialism made saving money a whole lot easier. Of course, this realization comes to people at different point sin their life; that article outlined my hudden reasons for buying stuff so specifically that it just made sense to me. I understand that saving money can still be difficult to do.

If a rock in placed in front of you, don’t try to climb over it: just walk around.

I’ve found three tips to save money without having to battle temptation. It takes a couple of days to implement them but over the past two months, they’ve saved me literally hundreds of dollars:

  1. Stay at home. Obviously, if you’re not out, you won’t be around temptation. Examine the stuff you already have and stay at home to use them. That bath collection you bought a week ago? Pamper yourself for a day. The unread books on your bookshelf? Curl up and get lost in them. Right now, I’m wanting to go out and buy scrapbooking papers for a couple of projects but I’m telling myself to stay at home and use the papers I already have. 😉
  2. Lock your card up. I literally lock my debit card up in a lockbox when I go out. Darling has adopted the same tip and he’s found himself saving so much money already. We try to buy something and then think, “Damn it, I don’t have my card…” Couple hours later, we realize that we probably didn’t need it after all. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Bring snacks with you. I think the biggest money drain throughout the day is probably food. Keep a small bag in your purse or car with pretzels, nuts, popcorn, dried fruit, etc. Keep a bottle of water on you too!

I’ve also found ways to save money if you are out and about, particularly if you’re hanging out with a friend.

  • If you’re going out to coffee, buy yourself tea. At Starbucks, I choose either an ice tea (with Sweet and Low) or an iced tea lemonade. It’s healthier and cheaper. ^_^
  • At restaurants, opt to split an entree and share an appetizer. Restaurant portions are huge! Darling and I split a Chinese dish last week and we couldn’t even finish it.
  • If you’re going to be at a store, make sure you don’t bring your card with you! Just carry cash if you must bring money. Take note of clothes you are interested in and give yourself time to think about it. Do you really need those jeans? Will that shirt match with any other shirt you have? Is there an inexpensive place to buy something similar?

It’s not just about saving money. Striving to become less materialistic in general has brought me peace and clarity of mind. I also suddenly free up time to engage in my more creative hobbies too! ^-^

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