Have you ever noticed that saving money seems to come easier to some people than others? In some ways, saving money is just like any other skill or talent. It’s a combination of natural ability, learned practices, and well-formed habits.
My husband and I, for example, both came from families that valued thrift and frugality. While we definitely have made sacrifices to get to where we are, I feel like we had a little bit of a head-start because of our background. Saving money is in our genes. We grew up seeing frugality in action. We’ve practiced being thrifty for years (and sometimes we, [gasp], even enjoy it).
Saving money doesn’t come so easily though, if you’re a natural spender. If you’re a spender, then money may seem to burn a hole in your pocket. You spend it just as fast as you earn it. Others don’t even wait that long. Maybe you’re spending it even faster than you’re earning it. Each impulse purchase puts you further and further into debt.
From the emails and comments I get from readers, I know that many of you struggle with being a spender or being married to one.
Since my husband and I don’t really fall into the “spender” category, I was excited for the opportunity to read a pre-release copy of Lauren Greutman’s new book, The Recovering Spender.
I feel like I have a much better understanding of the struggles spenders face after reading Lauren’s insights and experience. Shopping really can be a serious addiction. Like any other addiction, overcoming it can be a long, painful process.
In The Recovering Spender, Lauren gives a raw inside look at what goes on the mind and life of a spender by sharing her own very personal story of getting into and paying off over $40,000 or debt.
Lauren doesn’t stop with sharing her own story and research though. She shares some really interesting research about spending habits that helped me better understand what it’s like to be a spender. She also teaches the 12 steps that she went through to overcome her spending habit, pay off debt, and be financially successful.
Whether you’re a natural saver or natural spender, the numbers work the same. Its pretty simple– if you want to save more, you either need to spend less or make more (without spending more). You’ll make even more progress toward your financial goals if you do both: earn more and spend less.
Earn more and spend less sounds like a simple formula, unless you’re talking to someone who already has a spending problem.
Here are some quick tips for how to SAVE when you’re a SPENDER. In fact, they’ll probably help you even if you’re not a spender.
If you’re a spender, a credit card (or even a debit card) can be very dangerous. It’s like asking an alcoholic to go into a bar with a drink in hand but not take a drink. That’s way too much temptation. Instead, leave your cards at home and just bring cash. It will take some getting used too, but it’s a great safety measure for a spender.
Spenders have a tendency to hide their purchases in hopes of keeping their spending secret. You’ll be much more successful at saving when you start being honest with yourself and with everyone else involved. It will take some guts to come clean with any past dishonesty, but your journey to saving will be much shorter if you are honest from here on out.
Don’t shop alone
This is a tip that Lauren has found really helps her stay within her limits. Having an accountability partner to shop with at least in the places that are your weakness (whether it’s the Dollar Store, Target, or Nordstrom), will help you resist temptation. If you’re like me (with four little ones in tow), shopping alone isn’t an option anyway! Kids can be great accountability partners though!
Find your trigger and redirect it
Spenders shop for different reasons. Some shop because they’re happy. Some shop because they’re sad. Others shop because they’re bored. Whatever your trigger is, be intentional about redirecting it to a different activity that isn’t shopping. This is a great excuse to find a new (frugal) hobby.
Set a budget
As a spender, you might be resistant to a budget because you think it will feel restrictive. However, instead of looking at it like a prison cell that completely limits your freedom, Lauren suggests thinking of it like a fence around your yard. The fence gives your children room to play, but it also keeps them safe. You will still have the opportunity to do some spending, but the budget will keep your spending controlled so your money is safe.
Give yourself wiggle room
Instead of completely removing all miscellaneous or personal spending from your budget, make room in your budget for a little ear-marked spending money. The amount will depend on what you have left after paying all of your monthly bills, budgeting for your variable expenses, and paying at least the minimum on your debts. You’ll want to put a good portion of any “extra” at the end of the month toward your your debt.
Okay Spenders, are you ready?
Because you’re reading this post, I imagine you want to do better at saving money. Good for you! Maybe you have a big goal like paying off debt, but your progress toward your goal is being stunted. Or maybe you’re slipping backward, not making any progress at all.
If you’re a spender (or have one that you love), The Recovering Spender will challenge you to take an honest look at your unhealthy spending habits, motivate you to make necessary changes, and walk you down the road to recovery.
How about you?
- Are you a spender or recovering spender? What helps you curb your spending habit?
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