Quick Money Tip: Take a Time-Out
It happens to the best of us. We meticulously make our shopping lists before heading to the store. We're frugal - comparing prices, buying generic, using coupons - during the trip. We're feeling great as we cross the last item off our list. And then we hit the checkout lane. And then we wait. It's at that point that we mindlessly start tossing in a candy bar here, a soda there - for convenience, of course. For the long drive home. And well, looking back, maybe we grabbed a few things that weren't on the list in the middle of the store, too, but they were on sale, a good deal, so what's the harm, right?
Look at it this way, though. Let's say you go grocery shopping once a week and spend just a measly $10 extra each time. That adds up to $520 a year. Keep it up for five years, and you're out $2,600. Those are extra dollars that could go toward paying off debt, financing costly home repairs, or growing your savings or emergency fund instead.
Next time you're at the store, consider giving one of these two tricks a try:
The 10 Second Rule
If you've picked up a small, fairly affordable item that you didn't initially go to the store for - like something you spotted on the clearance shelf or in the checkout lane - hold it in your hands for ten seconds before placing it in the cart. Ask yourself the following:
- Why did you pick up the item?
- Do you actually need the item?
- Could the money you save by not purchasing the item be better used somewhere else?
Taking a short ten seconds to ask yourself these questions can put a halt to impulse buys that we're typically not even aware we make.
The 30 Day Rule
For more costly items - like a designer bag or pricey electronic - that you don't necessarily need, force yourself to wait a full month before making the purchase. This will give you time to seriously consider whether or not forking over a huge chunk of change for that item is what you really want to do. Chances are, you'll forget about the item after a few days. If you end up passing on the purchase, take the money you would have spent on that expensive buy and put it towards paying off a credit card or starting an emergency fund instead.
It'll feel great. We promise.