Posted by: saveafewbucks | September 3, 2010

How to Save Money When You Lack Willpower

I can’t say that I’m a saving ninja. I wish I could be. That could be my ninja niche market. Instead, I’m the opposite of a saving ninja. I’m more like a spending turtle. But a turtle that spends quickly…. Okay. Forget that thought all together.

I’ve been thinking ways to force myself to not spend. Ways that don’t require willpower because I’m still a saving novice. These are they methods I’ve thought of to curb my impulsive spending habits:

1. Keep my credit cards at home – Suggested by a close friend of mine, this is a very popular method to save money. If you have ever watched Until Debt Do Us Part, Gale Vaz-Oxlade will stealthily hide her client’s credit cards and will put them on strict cash budgets. Despite the method’s effectiveness, this would eliminate my (lazy way) automatic credit card record keeping. In addition, I have a fear of going anywhere without a credit card. I blame my mom for instilling in me a fear of sudden financial distress that could occur at any moment while taking a casual stroll or drive down the street. If you knew my mom you would know what I mean….

2. Reduce temptations – One method that has worked well for me is to avoid tempting situations. Example, going to Ikea to browse. Is it possible to go to Ikea without coming out with at least 3 items? Another place I can suffer the same spending fate… Walmart. Shudder. Since I’m still new at this I’m not only am I avoiding malls all together, but I’m reducing my wandering time incase I happen to wander into a store and my credit card wanders out of my wallet…

3. 24 hour rule (or more) – If I see something I want to buy, I must wait 24+ hours before I can purchase it. Actually, it should be more like a one week or one month rule… This is meant to reduce impulsive spending. But if you’re anything like me, when you want something you don’t stop thinking about it until you have it. So I myself stick to forced saving method #2. Can’t want what you don’t know about!

4. Following a shopping list – As you’ve seen, I like making lists. For everything! So a shopping list is right down my alley. But it really only works for groceries and household items. I can’t see myself making a list saying “one shirt” and following it as I’m frolicking through a sales rack at the mall… I’ve used the list method for groceries and household items and so far it has reduced my impulse shopping (especially when I’m hungry). It provides me with all the items I need so I can get in and out of the store as soon as possible, which prevents the dreaded wandering and the discovery of “deals.”

5. Sharing is caring – Let all your potential shopping partners know that you’re trying to cut your spending. And why. It helps them understand your motives and in my case has reduced the pressure to “window shop.” My friends have all been very respectful of my need to stay away from most stores. When I do have a weak moment (a few weeks ago in a shoe store), my boyfriend helps out by walking me through the process of figuring out whether I actually need/will make use of the item I am buying…. However, I still need to learn to listen to him more. I ignored his comments about how I would never wear them and purchased the shoes (on sale) anyways, which I haven’t yet worn and regret purchasing now… Learning is difficult.

6. Take up a hobby – Taking up a hobby is great as it reduces your “I’m bored so I’m going to the mall” time. I’ve been using cooking as one of my hobbies so far but I end up baking, and not eating, far too many cakes. So I need a new hobby. I really want to take up sewing again but I have to save up for a sewing machine first. After that large initial investment I should be home free other than sewing supplies.

Suggestions on methods which have worked well for you?

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