It’s easy to spend more money than you mean to, especially when businesses pull out every trick in the book to get you to open your wallet. So, here are some easy ways to boost your financial willpower – and trick your brain into helping you spend less.
- First, beware of “limited time” offers – where, for example, you have to order in the next 30 minutes, before the offer’s over. Studies show that when you feel pressured or rushed - or you think you’re about to miss out – your brain is hardwired to become reckless with your money. That’s why infomercials are so successful. So, when you’re faced with a countdown clock - or a “one-day-only” sale - remind yourself that that “limited time offer” will come around again.
- Another reason we spend more than we plan to: Comparative costs. In other words, if you’re spending $30,000 on a car, paying an extra $3,000 for leather seats seems small by comparison. The fix: View it as a stand-alone cost. In other words, would you spend $3,000 to buy a new couch? If the answer’s “no,” don’t get the leather seats.
- Another reason for overspending: You’re tired of pinching pennies. So, you stop bothering. The fix: Instead of trying to save a small amount on every transaction you make, focus on your two biggest discretionary expenses. Say, restaurant meals and shoe shopping. Aim to reduce your expenses in both categories by 30 percent.
- The final tip for spending less money: Make saving money automatic. Physically depositing 10 percent of your paycheck in your savings account will make it feel like a big sacrifice. So, make it painless by using direct deposit to put a percentage of every check in your savings and 401(K) retirement accounts. And because you’re less likely to spend money you don’t see – you won’t be tempted to take money out of your savings to splurge.