I have a great piece of financial advice for you today. “Save money by never leaving your house!” Seriously, stay home. Don’t go shopping. Don’t go to the grocery store. Just stay at home, and the money is bound to pile up eventually, right? Well, we all know that isn’t possible. Everyone has to go to the store sometimes and it’s impossible to avoid places where you can spend money altogether. However, limiting those excursions does have its benefits.
We all have “spending triggers.” All of us have something that we love buying. My “something” used to be cleaning products. Trust me, I have a closet full of Mr. Clean in different scents, and I love them all. I also used to love buying clothes and makeup. Now, I try to limit my exposure and it seems to be working pretty well.
The Temptation of Shopping
I love Target. I love the clean and organized aisles of laundry detergent, baby items, and adorable children’s clothing. I love shopping there and just browsing around. Often, they have incredible deals on various items if you have the corresponding coupon. I could shop at Target for hours if I had time to do such a thing. Since I know that Target is a temptation of mine, I try to avoid it.
Recently, we took our two daughters there to get their pictures taken. I did a great job pretending that I didn’t see all of the wonderful items that were for sale. I had tunnel vision on my way back to the photo department. We had our kids pictures taken, ordered them, and I managed to not buy anything on my way out. Success!
While I may enjoy getting great bargains on household items, I don’t like to shop for clothing. I really don’t like going to the mall and I think this is a huge bonus for me financially. I don’t like crowds or waiting in line. I’m not a fan of indoor spaces without windows. I don’t enjoy browsing in store after store after store. I always hear the term “retail therapy” and am unable to understand what is exactly therapeutic about the whole experience. Spending money makes me more anxious than anything, so going shopping to blow off some steam actually backfires on me. I’m much happier saving money than I am spending it.
My Grocery Store Temptation
I also used to have a problem at the grocery store. Years ago, before we had a financial awakening, I could easily spend $1,000 per month on groceries for two people. It was absolutely insane. I would buy whatever I wanted because I felt, no matter how much I spent, it would still be cheaper than eating out. Unfortunately, “eating at home” often meant steaming crab legs , grilling steaks, or baking salmon several nights a week. Obviously, I wasn’t really saving any money by doing this even though I had convinced myself that I was.
We finally realized what a ridiculous amount of money we were spending on food each month when we started tracking our expenses through a zero-sum budget. Now, we spend $500 per month on food…for 4 people!!! That amount also includes what we spend on toiletries and other household items bought from the grocery store. By being aware of our spending and make a conscious effort to stay within our budget, we easily stay within the $500 limit we have set for ourselves.
I have found that shopping with a list helps immensely. If I make a list ahead of time, I get exactly what I want and need and am able create my list from the grocery circular ahead of time. If what I am truly craving is not on sale, I usually don’t buy it…unless it is a special occasion. Most food that I crave just goes to my ass anyways, so buying something that isn’t absolutely necessary can also be a double whammy.
Over the years, I have learned to avoid these spending triggers in order to keep my spending under control. Luckily, when I can’t avoid them, I’ve learned how to control my impulses. What are some of your spending triggers? What tips do you have for controlling your spending impulses? We’d love to hear your comments below!