I am a sucker for deals. You know, the kind of deals you get from Groupon, Zulily, Living Social, and any other kind of deal flashed in front of your eyes that lures you with the idea that you will be saving so much money by buying one of their once-in-a-life-time-get-it-now-or-you’ll-regret-it deals.
Upon looking at my banking activity at the end of the year, I noticed that I spent a considerable amount of money on “deals” that not only were unnecessary, but the premise of saving money only got me to spend money I did not plan on spending to begin with.
For example, a retail store was offering 50% off their wardrobe during the month of December. My wheels spun and I excitedly took advantage of the nice scarf I had been eyeballing prior to the sale, and I saved myself $17!!! Except, I also spent $17 dollars that were quietly and obediently sitting in my bank account. And to be honest, I have not even used the scarf yet.
Then there was the buy one get one 50% internet only deal on boots. Two for the price of one? Jumped on that sale and spent $150, which meant I got two pairs of boots for a whooping $75 each! Except, I rarely wear boots, and had it not been for the amazing sale, also know as “lack of will-power” I would have had an extra $150 dollars in my account.
My favorite deal of all time had to have been the purchase I made from one of those internet coupon giants that sends you an e-mail everyday enticing you with their array of deals letting you know just how much money you will save. I spent $50 on gourmet cupcakes that I never used because it expired before I could find the right occasion to use four dozens worth of cupcakes.
After tallying up the chunk of money I used on things that I did not need to begin with, I was aghast. I decided to tackle my spending habits starting this year in order to have a healthy amount of savings by the end of the year (at least 15% of our overall yearly income). Here is what I did:
- First of all, I made sure to unsubscribe from every single internet website in order to stop receiving offers.
- My husband and I agreed to discuss every single item prior to purchasing in order to hold each other accountable.
- I took inventory of all the items I bought and then on a sheet of paper, I wrote two columns: Need and Want. I wrote down each item I purchased under the specified column and it was very evident that more than 85% of the items I purchased, were a want versus an actual need. I then placed said sheet over my refrigerator door to remind me that financial fitness is just as important as eating right and exercising.
- I set up a budget on my spreadsheet that details every single expense and only allows %10 wiggle room of the remaining bi-monthly budget after bills have been paid on leisure items. For example, if I have $200 remaining after all expenses have been paid, $20 is for leisure items.
- I set up a list of questions to specifically ask myself when I am feeling tempted to deviate from the 10% wiggle room:
- Do I own something remotely similar to this item? If yes – you don’t need it?
- Is your life dependent on the item (will you be deprived of food, shelter, and water if you don’t have it?) If no, you don’t need it.
- Are you purchasing the item because you want to show it off or have someone in mind you’d like to impress? If yes, you don’t need it.
- Is the deal so good that if you were to experience a natural disaster or a tragedy you’d regret not buying it? If no, you don’t need it.
- Are you using your credit card and will it take more than one month to pay it off? If yes, you can’t afford it.
- Is this an item you have been living with out and can continue to live without? If yes, you don’t need it.
- Will the item or experience you want to purchase bring you meaning and joy and will the meaning and joy last longer than the actual moment it’s used or experienced? If no, you don’t need it.
While the above questions seem a bit extreme, I’ve recognized that my financial fitness is sub-par in comparison to my physical fitness. I have had very little discipline when it comes to spending my money in a healthy way. Just how physical fitness requires discipline and a strategy to achieve your goal, my spending habits require the same attention. I know there will be times I will be tempted. I understand it will put me in a position where I may not have the nicest items to wear or will place me behind the Joneses (not that I could ever keep up with them), but in the in the long run, a healthy account will help me further my goal of a healthy lifestyle for me and my family. I can have more money in my account to buy healthy edible items, to participate in more races (and perhaps to even participate in out-of-state races), and to hopefully achieve a life where I can find satisfaction from within as opposed to material possessions.
Do you have a strategy for dealing with purchases that are not in your budget? How do you tackle the offers and sales you receive via e-mail or regular mail? Would you say you are as financially fit as you are physically fit?