Becoming a saver when you like to spend

By glblguy

Shopping List
Photo by: peterme

The following is a guest post by Lynnae of Being, a blog about frugal living and getting out of debt. If you like this post, consider subscribing to her feed via RSS or email. Make sure you pay her a visit as she was kind enough to give you guys a great article to read while I’m taking care of my kiddos!

You know the advice. Don’t spend money unnecessarily. You want to save money. You know you need to save money. But you’re a spender by nature, and you feel like it’s impossible to stop spending. How do you do it?

While some people (like my daughter) seem to be born savers, I am not. I’ll admit. I like to spend money. It makes me feel good to buy something new. But that feeling is short lived and bad for my overall financial health. Over time I’ve had to develop strategies to help me avoid unnecessary spending.

Don’t shop for fun. If you don’t need anything, don’t go into the store. Period. This is the best overall way to avoid spending money. When my daughter was born, and I was a new stay at home mom, I would get bored during the day, so I’d take my new baby to Walmart. Don’ laugh….we lived in a small town, and I didn’t have many shopping options. Inevitably I’d end up spending $20 here and $20 there on things I didn’t need. When I stopped going to Walmart so often, I stopped spending so much money.

Shop with a list. Whether you’re grocery shopping or going to Target to buy cleaning supplies, always take a list. And stick to it. Don’t browse while you’re in the store. Think of shopping as a mission to buy what you need. Get in. Get out. Stick to the list.

Keep a running list of household items that you need. I keep a running list of things we need around the house, such as clothing, furniture, and anything around the house that is in need of replacement. By keeping a list, when I see a great deal on something, I can check my list to see if it’s something we really need. If it is, I know that it’s time to buy it. If it’s not on the list, it’s not a good deal for me, even if it’s 75% off.

Wait at least 48 hours before buying something you want. If you’re in the store and you get the urge to spend money on something that’s not on your list, wait. Write it down, and wait a couple of days before deciding to buy. You’d be amazed at how many times the urge to spend money passes, and you decide you don’t really need the item after all. Take the money you would have spent, and put it in savings.

Find someone to hold you accountable for your spending decisions. Make sure your accountability partner is a financially responsible person. It could be your spouse, a friend from church….anyone who wants to see you succeed. I started a blog to hold myself accountable, and it’s really changed the way I think about spending money. Plus, it’s really hard to spend money when I know I’ll have to confess to my readers what I’ve done.

When you’re trying to change a habit, you need to have a plan. Without a plan, you will fail nearly every time. By setting up some conditions on when and where you can spend money, you can slowly begin to develop the habit of saving money, rather than spending it all.

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  1. Becky@FamilyandFinances Says:

    I’ve wondered about the “new stay-at-home mom shopping” problem. I’ll be hitting that stage in a couple of years (hopefully). Lynnae, what should a new mom do in that circumstance to keep from going out shopping?

  2. Lynnae @ Being Says:

    That’s a tough question, since I obviously went to Walmart. LOL

    Honestly, I think it’s easier now that everyone has computers. I would suggest finding an online community of other moms, so anytime you’re bored, you can post there and feel like you have immediate adult interaction.

    Also find other moms to interact with in real life. I had a friend whose daughter was a couple of months older than mine, and we used to get together once a week just to chat.

    Libraries are a great place to go if you have a quiet baby. That never worked for me, because both of my kids were screamers.

    Another option that’s popping up more and more are little baby/toddler playcenters. We have one in town where there are lots of activities for babies and toddlers (not structured…just good stuff to play with) and a coffee shop for the moms. The prices are pretty reasonable, and it’s a good place to meet other parents.

  3. Sean Says:

    One idea that I read was to place a picture of something that reminded you of your goals around your debit card and near your cash. We have let a few items sit on the counter after seeing our daughters picture and knowing that it was an unnecessary spend that could go toward her college.

  4. Lynnae @ Being Says:

    @Sean – That’s a great idea! I think maybe I’ll give it a try!

  5. Dee Says:

    Great post Lynnae :)

    I work from home as a writer and I get the itch to leave the house too and I head to Target! Lol.

    I’ve stopped over the past month because, as you said, I always ended up buying something on sale that I just “couldn’t pass up” and those little purchases added up!

  6. Finally Frugal Says:

    I am struggling with these same issues in my own life, Lynnae! I’ve finally realized that letting my money leave my life in places like Target, Macys, and The Gap won’t get me any closer to my financial goals. The realization was just the first step, though. Now I have to ‘tame the shopping beast’ so to speak. I’m getting there, little by little, definitely improving each month, but I still have setbacks and days when I know I’ve spent money on pure wants, instead of needs, and that six months from now I’ll question why I spent the money in the first place.

    It’s so inspiring to read about others’ struggles with this problem as they, also, try to get their financial lives in order. I particularly like the ’48 hour’ rule, which may serve to keep me from making purchases on a whim (like I did last weekend).

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Lynnae @ Being Says:

    Finally Frugal, it definitely helps to keep your goals in mind. And it’s all about priorities…what’s more important to me? Buying a new dress or paying off my credit card? Getting my hair colored or taking a family vacation?

    When you have a limited amount of money (and everyone does…it’s just a matter of how limited), you have to make choices based on priorities. It’s a long learning curve though. I still haven’t perfected it. (says Lynnae, as she finishes a chocolate muffin that she really didn’t need to spend money on this morning)

  8. Kelly Says:

    The weather is nice here , so when i get an urge to go shopping , I go to the park and walk. Our park has a stocked lake . There are ducks to admire or feed, fish to catch in the lake or admire in the Koi pond, a jogging walking path, a playground, picnic tables , a mini golf course, swimming pool, gym with good exercise equipment and free fitness classes. This is right around the corner from the softball fields, the dog park and the library. This is not in an expensive Planned Community . Though we have those here , this is paid for with county tax dollars… have already paid for this. So, i do not spend any money , I use the resources my taxes have already paid for, and I take time to invest in my physical and mental health. What a bargain !

  9. Lynnae @ Being Says:

    @Kelly – That’s really great! Our small community is starting to develop community resources like that, but we’ve still got a ways to go. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing what community classes they offer this summer. Since my husband gets off work earlier than he used to, I can probably take a class this year. :)