Laurie from Passionate Penny Pincher has a great post up with 7 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping at Michaels.
Guest post Elizabeth of Witty ‘N’ Pretty
The world we live in values beauty above all else. The more beautiful a person is, the more value they have. It’s no wonder people, women in particular, lack confidence. We try to make up for our shortcomings in many ways.
For me, I tried to make up for mine by shopping because in my mind, the more expensive things I owned, the more value I had.
Every time I bought something, I experienced two things.
First, was happiness, because I felt prettier and more valuable.
Then I felt guilt, because I knew I couldn’t afford what I was buying.
When I bought something I couldn’t afford, it counteracted the happiness because my value was decreasing. The lifestyle I wanted was unattainable for a girl still in college.
For whatever reason, I couldn’t come to terms with that. I didn’t accept it until I maxed out a credit card and ended up using student loans to fund my shopping trips.
I knew I had to change, so I did.
Since I’m confessing my struggles to you, I may as well say that the temptations to shop and spend money never completely go away. However, I learned to ignore the little voice inside my head telling me to spend, spend, spend.
Eventually, you’ll learn how to do this too… here’s how I’m just doing that:
1. Cut up the credit card.
Yes, the most precious piece of plastic you own will be in little pieces after the scissors gets through with it.
Having a credit card in your wallet tells you that even if you can’t afford something at that moment, your line of credit will let you buy it anyway.
Chop up those cards!
2. Write it down… with an actual pen.
Write down anything and everything you buy and exactly how much it cost. This allows you to see where your money goes and any trends in your spending.
I noticed two things about myself: I liked to drink overpriced coffee and I liked to look good doing it. Knowing this helped me take the next step toward addiction recovery.
3. Stop doing the things that cause you to spend money.
For one month, I didn’t allow myself to buy anything but food and gas. It didn’t matter what was on sale or how great of a deal it was (I love getting a bargain), I wasn’t going to buy it.
At first, this is like giving up the last life ring on a sinking ship. You feel like you’re going to drown. Just like anything else though, it becomes routine.
4. Retrain your brain.
For the longest time, I honestly believed that my worth and my attractiveness was based on how many Kate Spade bags I had and the car I drove.
During my month long shopping break, I focused on building my confidence up. I tried to find beauty in the talents I had and the personality I was born with. I talked with mentors and people I trusted to help me find my self-worth.
Truthfully, I’m still finding my worth. I believe it’s a journey though. It can’t be done in a month or even a year. I still appreciate pretty things, but I don’t place my worth in them.
Do I struggle with wanting these things? Of course, but I can say “no” to myself now. I understand and respect my financial limits and still see value in who I am.
Some may scoff and wonder what’s wrong with me, I can only tell them that everyone struggles with something and being addicted to shopping was my “something”.
Liz is a young, 20-something with a passion for living a beautiful, debt-free life. After graduating college, she realized how important it is for her to get her finances together and start sharing how you can have a great lifestyle for a lot less. She blogs at Witty ‘N’ Pretty.
This post is the first post in a three-part underwritten series of posts I’ll be writing on behalf of the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard.
Struggling to follow through with that budget you’ve set? Here are 5 tried and true tips, tricks, and tools to help you actually stick with your budget:
1. Create Motivational Goals
Want to have more momentum when it comes to saving more and spending less? Set some realistic but inspirational goals.
Goals give you purpose, passion, and drive. They make short-term sacrifices more worth it, because you know you have long-term benefits in mind.
Wishing you could pay cash for Christmas, pay down your credit card debt, save for a piece of furniture, or even pay off your mortgage faster? Sit down and look at your current budget. See if there are areas you could streamline or cut back in.
Do the math on how much you could save or put toward your debt if you were to cut back $10 or $30 or even $50 every week. Knowing that these cuts are going to propel you toward your end game more quickly will inspire you to follow through with them over the long haul.
2. Focus on the Bite-Sized Chunks
If you want to discourage yourself, look at your savings goal or debt left to pay off as a whole. It probably looks mammoth and insurmountable. And you’ll want to quit saving or paying down debt immediately because it feels so overwhelming.
This is why I’m a big fan of breaking your big goals down into small pieces. If you want to save up $500 to pay cash for Christmas this year, don’t think about the $500 amount as a whole. Cut it down into the amount you’d need to save each month (about $42) and then the amount you’d need to save each week (about $10.50).
When you look at the weekly amount, it feels much more doable. And you can start to get creative to come up with simple and outside-the-box ways to shave that $10.50/week off your current budget.
In addition, you’ll be much more apt to stick with your budget if you feel encouraged from the get-go and like pulling off your goal is actually a reality, not some far-fetched, pie-in-the-sky dream idea.
3. Pay With Cash or a Prepaid Card
You all well know that I’m a big advocate of using cash. The beauty of cash is that it gives you instant self-discipline: when the money’s gone, the money’s gone.
You can’t go over-budget when you only use cash. Well, I mean, you can, but you’ll be robbing another budget category to do so.
You also can’t spend more money than you actually have when you only use cash. It’s a very visual way to be able to track how much money you have to spend.
However, I know that cash is not always practical in every situation. It’s impossible to pay with cash online and some people find that it burns a big hole in their pocket — causing them to spend more money than they would if they swipe a card.
That’s why an alternative to cash you could consider would be using a prepaid card like the Walmart MoneyCard® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card, part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program. It works very similarly to cash in that you can’t overspend with it — once the money is gone off the card, you are done being able to swipe it (unless you refill it). So it gives you instant self-discipline, too.
Using a prepaid card is especially a great option if you’re wanting to stick with a specific budget in a specific budget category. For instance, if you set a budget for your Christmas gifts and you want to make sure that you don’t go over it, if you designate your budget amount as the amount on the card and you don’t use anything but the card for Christmas gift purchases, you’ll be guaranteed more likely to stick with your budget. Plus, you can use the card both online and offline.
4. Use a Money-Tracking App
Money-tracking apps and websites can not only help you set up your budget, but they can help you continue to stay on track with it. There are a variety of apps and sites out there — each with their pros and cons.
These apps and websites typically take you step-by-step through the process of creating your budget and will then give you real-time reports on how much you have to spend in each budget category. As you make purchases or deposits, you can update your budget in just a few seconds.
Used well and updated daily, it’s almost like a virtual cash envelope system — without having to mess with any cash or coins at all. Plus, the pie charts and information available at your fingertips will help you better know exactly what your current financial picture looks like and encourage you to continue to stay on track with your budget.
5. Get an Accountability Partner
I cannot stress the importance of having some built-in accountability when it comes to budgeting. You need people to help you stay the course, even when the going gets tough.
Accountability can be found in many different places. It could be monthly Budget Meetings with your spouse. It could be posting your financial goals on your refrigerator in graph form and updating your progress on saving or paying down debt as you gain momentum. It could be a goal app like Commit.
It could be reading books and blogs that inspire you to practice better money management. It could be joining an online group or online community of others who are seeking to get out of debt.
For best results, choose multiple accountability sources — some that are in-person and regularly check-in with you and some that are just motivational online or offline resources that serve as reminders to stick with your budget and keep going.
You don’t have to always feel like you’re falling off the Budget Bandwagon! Implement at least a few of these tips and tools and you are bound to experience much more budgeting success!
What helps YOU stick with your budget? Tell us in the comments!
This post is underwritten by the Visa Clear Prepaid Program. With the Visa Clear Prepaid program, there’s less stress in choosing and using a prepaid card. Cards meeting the Visa Clear Prepaid standards provide you with transparency and protection, resulting in more time to do the things you love.
With a card that meets the Visa Clear Prepaid standards, it means your day-to-day activities are covered by a clearly communicated fee plan, so you’ll know when you’ll pay a fee and when you won’t. Go to Visa.com to find the prepaid card that works for you.
And stay tuned for a 30-day Grocery Spending Challenge we’ll be running in partnership with the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Walmart MoneyCard in the upcoming weeks to encourage you to stick with your budget, spend less, and save more!
I Am That Lady is back with another ALDI Freezer Cooking Plan! In this newest plan, she shows you how to make 20 Slow Cooker Meals in 90 minutes for just $150!
You can see all of the basic details on her blog for the plan or you can purchase the full details (instructions, shopping list, etc.) for a few dollars.
Frugal Farm Wife shows you how to feed your family a healthy menu for just $20 per person per week. She shares a complete menu plan and shopping list — so inspiring!
I loved this post from Kosher on a Budget on 10 Things You Need to Know Before Shopping at ALDI.