It’s better to be ‘big happy’ than a little broke.
Story: Pamela Yellen
The National Retail Federation predicts robust holiday spending this year, with overall sales for 2018 up 3.8 to 4.4 percent over 2017, when shoppers averaged close to $1,000 in spending on gifts. That’s good news for retailers, but overspending can leave consumers struggling with debt and sabotage their savings goals.
Here are seven ways to spend less and enjoy life more:
Get clear about wants vs. needs. Those slick Madison Avenue types would have us believe we “need” lots of things, from the latest techno-gadget to that trendy new shoe. They tell us we’re not sexy/successful/cool without what they’re selling. But what do we really need? Stop and think about it and get clarity for yourself. And if you have children, teaching them the difference between needs and wants will empower them for life.
Curb the impulse, break the spell. Next time you feel the urge to buy something you hadn’t planned to buy, simply clench your fist or flex your bicep. Voila! The spell is broken and you can actually think clearly again.
Wrap your charge cards. Some financial advisors tell you to leave your cards at home to avoid temptation. I prefer to wrap my cards in my goals. Every time I take a card out, I see a picture or some words that represent a goal that’s important to me. I get the opportunity to stop and decide whether what I’m about to purchase is more important than that goal. If it is or it doesn’t undermine my goal, I might go ahead and buy it. If it isn’t, I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m a step closer to my goal because I chose to not purchase the item.
Distinguish “big happy” from “little happy”. The “big happy” for most of us is having memorable experiences and being with the people we love. That other stuff we chase? That’s usually “little happy”—fleeting and not very fulfilling.
Be consistently, consciously grateful. When we practice gratitude, we feel “wealthier” and more prosperous in all ways. Our self-esteem is greater and we just generally feel happy and appreciative of many aspects of our lives. Because of this, we’re less likely to crave material goods to feed an emotional need. And studies show that having a grateful attitude actually enhances our ability to make good decisions.
Create value comparisons. Rather than falling for some marketer’s value comparison, how about setting up your own? Put a price tag on things you really enjoy and value.
Know your spending triggers. Do you feel driven to buy extravagant gifts as soon as the mall’s Santa shows up or when holiday decorations pop up in the stores (earlier and earlier each year)? When you have a rough day at work, do you crave some retail therapy to feel better? When you’re out with old friends, do you order the most expensive item on the menu? Are you triggered to overspend in a bookstore, hardware store, or swap meet? Know thyself—and especially know your spending triggers so you can outwit them
About the writer:
Pamela Yellen is a financial investigator and the author of two best-selling books, including her latest, “The Bank On Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future.”