5 Simple Tips for More Mindful Spending
I always thought that those people who are really good at discriminatory spending (also known as having will power) were precious rare birds, born into this world with supernatural powers of self-control. It is as if they have a mechanism that enables them to purchase just the right amount of things at a precisely reasonable amount. These conscious spenders don't use their weekend time up by lugging a 50 gallon plastic bin around their house, tossing in all manner of items that are headed to a donation site. No, that's a task for people like me — someone who sees a bright and shiny object and swipes without a second thought . . . until she's tossing it in a bin two months later, releasing dull moans of regret.
As much as my mindless spending disappoints me, I am equally bothered by the excess I acquire. I offend myself with this habit. And it's not like I'm not dropping piles of Benjamins on shoes and watches and exotic perfumes every day. It's the accumulation of multiple bottles of lotion and impulse buys and adding one or three more things to my cart before I hit "checkout" so I can earn my free shipping. The nonsense of it all has me so worked up that I had to find a solution. So I've decided to take a mindful approach to spending and here's what that looks like.
Know Your Triggers
If I'm aware enough to take a look, I'll see that the signs of needless spending are always shooting up flares. One of the biggest tells that I'm about to purchase something I know that I don't need and will probably regret buying is when I am talking myself into the purchase. I'm justifying why I need that instant rush. There's also my old friend, FOMO, who can bend my better judgement and cause me to hand over my cash. I'm learning to stop and notice when these behaviors are happening and take a step back before spending.
Enforce A Wait Period
When I'm eyeing something that I know is going to be available tomorrow or next week and isn't a necessity, I am making myself wait at least 48 hours before purchasing. Giving myself some time and space from the impulse allows me to evaluate how much I really want the item. If I'm still thinking fondly of that item in two days, I give myself the green light to spend my greenbacks. But if my enthusiasm has waned I know I don't need that fourth nail polish in the same shade of blue.
On those occasions when I'm trying to discern whether or not to buy a certain something, I try to think down the road a few months. Is this a decor item I will be adding to my donation pile come summer? Or do I see this being something I continue to find beautiful? Putting some forethought into how invested I am in this purchase helps me see how valuable it will be to me in the long run.
Think of What I Have
Buying another (assumably better) eye cream when I already two tubes of eye cream? I am the captain of that team. My inner spender whispers: But this one is a serum and is really going to erase your dark circles — it says so right here on the bottle!
Although this concept may be one of the most impactful for both curbing spending and reducing excess, I admit it is the most difficult for me. I'm trying to use and enjoy the things I currently have before purchasing new versions of the same thing, from makeup to laundry detergent and everything in between. The upside is this process does give me something to look forward to and waiting to buy the new item once the old one runs out makes me even more excited and appreciative of the purchase.
The time has come for me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I love supporting people, organizations, and businesses that I feel align with my beliefs and create goodness I can get behind. And what better way to be a patron of these good works than to financially support them to continue to do what they do? To me, nothing feels more noble than knowing that my money is helping to sustain more positivity in the world. Which is why I recently made a monthly pledge to Everytown for Gun Safety and the website of the writer, Mark Manson as well as became a member of my local (and kickass) writers' collective, The Porch. I'd much rather spend cash on this than another pair of boots.
My ultimate goal is that through mindful spending, I will own more things I truly love and less that just take up space and collect dust. This strategy will also help with reaching my goal of allocating more money for experiences than stuff. Overall, I'll feel more peace about what my cash is used for and not be so bogged down by clutter.