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Impulse spending can be a very expensive problem, but it’s also become the norm for many consumers. You can either constantly tell yourself you need to think before you spend, or you can put these things in place to force your hand just a little bit.
Make Spending Inconvenient
Track the way you spend for a while and try to assess which factors correlate with mindless overspending, then put limits in place to make spending that way less convenient. If you impulse spend with cash, leave it at home. If you’re more likely to overspend with credit cards, maybe they need to stay at home. If online shopping is your downfall, try unlinking your cards from your favorite sites so you have to actually get your card and plug those numbers in.
Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails
Every time a marketing email lands in your inbox, a purchase is just one click away. A few marketing emails are genuinely useful in providing alerts and discounts for things we really need. Most just encourage us to spend on things we don’t need and would never usually have considered buying. While you’re unsubscribing from all those marketing emails, consider if you need to install an ad blocker on your devices too. Many of us have become fairly ‘ad blind’ over the years, but if you’re someone who’s constantly tempted to click on online ads, you might find an ad blocker literally keeps money in your pocket.
Cancel Unused Subscriptions
Persuading you to sign up for a subscription is perhaps the easiest way for a company to ensure you spend without thinking. From Netflix to Spotify to Amazon Prime, we’re all subscribed to something these days. Do an audit of all your subscriptions—monthly and yearly—and see if you really need them. Don’t forget things like the gym and online membership sites. And take a look at what, if anything, you have on ‘subscribe and save’ through Amazon or similar sites. Check if your subscriptions are underused too. Sometimes you can change to a cheaper version of a subscription and still get the benefits you need. Subscriptions can be convenient, but many of them go unused or underused most of the time.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending first and saving what’s left. A better strategy is to save first and spend what’s left. One way to do this is to automate a regular transfer into your savings account. If you save automatically each month or as often as you get paid, you’ll learn to budget based on your after-savings income. This works so much better than allowing yourself to spend mindlessly until you’re almost out of funds and then putting what little you have left into savings.
Stock Your Pantry
One of the things most of us spend money on without thinking is ordering take-out food. Another is eating out or stopping at the drive-through, especially when we’re on our way home and know we don’t have much in to eat when we get there. Planning ahead, shopping smart, and stocking the pantry or store cupboard can help you avoid this. If we know we have a quick, tasty, easy-to-make meal at home, take-outs and drive-throughs become less appealing.
Spending less and spending more mindfully isn’t easy. As with almost everything else in life, you’ll do better at it if you actively create an environment that supports you. Most of the above actions simply make spending less convenient, but sometimes a little inconvenience is all we need to improve our spending habits.
I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com.