Technology has given consumers unprecedented access to shopping opportunities — you can shop, literally, morning, noon and night. From your phone or tablet. Debit, credit, store cards, gift cards…the list is endless.
There probably has never been a tougher time to resist the temptation to overspend. A few impulsive clicks and your carefully crafted monthly budget is kaput.
So it's no wonder our personal finance experts get this question all the time — how can I curb my spending?
Since the root of the problem may be access to opportunities for spending money, try the following tips for limiting that access:
Focus on savings first
Send direct deposits into a savings account, not a checking account. Most people have their paychecks deposited into a checking account, where their wages become immediately available for spending. Instead, have your paycheck go into savings, and transfer only a budgeted amount every month into checking to meet your expenses.
Give yourself a cash allowance
Electronic transactions can be hard to keep track of on the fly, and they don't give you an intuitive sense of when you have spent too much. Try using cash for routine expenses, subject to a budgeted allowance amount. This will make it more obvious when you have run though your budget for the week.
Stash the cards
Get out of the habit of carrying credit and debit cards with you at all time. Consistent with the idea of doing things more on a cash basis, leave the credit and debit cards in a secure place and take them out only to make budgeted purchases. Consider also forgoing time saving measures like “one-click” shopping where you store all your credit card information with an online retailer. It may feel too much like free money to some — and certainly makes impulse shopping a breeze. Make shopping online harder to accomplish, not easier.
Compare, compare, compare
Don't buy things until you have three price comparisons. When you do buy something out of the ordinary, make yourself shop around. You might save by finding a better deal, and in any case this discipline may slow you down enough for some spending impulses to wear off. Yes, hunt for the online coupon!
Modern technology allows spending money to occur almost instantaneously. What the techniques listed above all have in common is that they attempt to slow down the process of spending money.
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The idea is that with a little more time to think, you might make wiser decisions about how to spend your money.
What's worked for you in terms of curbing spending? Let us know in the comments.