Resisting the Urge to Splurge

Money Photo by Petr Kratochvil PublicDomainPictures.net

I received the following comment today from a reader about my earlier post Simple Solutions to Staying Out of Debt:

“All good advice – sadly, it is harder than it sounds. But then again, the more you make the more you can spend, so figuring out how to live within your means is a lesson we should all learn at an early age!”

Yes, it is harder than it sounds; almost everything is. But what it all boils down to is common sense, self-discipline and keeping your priorities in mind. It is true that it would be ideal to learn such lessons at an early age, but there is no reason why an adult can’t learn to control his spending and live within his means if he truly wants to.

Don’t get me wrong. I am human and I know how hard it can be to resist spending on things you want. For example, here is just a snippet of some of the things I have been coveting for a long time – some for years.

  • A laptop computer
  • My favorite TV shows on DVD (Friends, X-Files and many more)
  • Subscription to cable (which we haven’t had since 2001)
  • A cushy armchair for reading in my bedroom
  • The complete British and French editions of the Harry Potter books (I collect foreign editions of Harry Potter books)

These are just a few of the things that cross my mind at the moment, but I know there are more. Over the years, I have been tempted more than once to buy some or all of these things, but I know the danger of giving in to the urge to splurge, because spending or getting what you want is addictive. Oftentimes, when you get one thing, you want or need to get more things to go with it.

I know it’s annoying to hear these words because they’re so “self-help-ish” (I myself can’t stand self-helpers and trite inspirational “don’t underestimate the power of the mind” stuff), but -

The tools for fighting the urge to spend are:

  • Recognizing your priorities
  • Rational thinking (not rationalizing)
  • Self-discipline/self-control
  • Will power
  • Rewarding yourself

Recognizing Your Priorities

For most of us, our main goal is simply to “save money” or “save as much money as possible,” and that works well enough. But maybe for some of us, that goal simply isn’t enough. If you have a strong penchant for spending, you may need more clearcut reasons than “to save money” in order to curb your spending. So you will need to contemplate the following question.

Why do you want or need to save money?

Is it …

  • To save for a down payment on a house of your own?
  • To save for a replacement car?
  • To save for marriage and a family?
  • To save for a personal or family emergency?
  • To stay out of debt?
  • To get out of debt?
  • To achieve financial freedom?
  • To make sure your loved ones are provided for?
  • To make sure you have enough to live on should you lose your job?
  • To be able to retire when you want or need to?
  • To make sure you have enough to last through your retirement?

Knowing and reminding yourself of your priorities at all times will help make achieving your goals easier.

Rational Thinking

Rational thought is necessary in order to succeed at anything including spending and saving money. When tempted to spend on something you don’t need or can’t really afford -

Try to look at the item in question with objectivity (without emotion) and ask yourself the following questions (The “it” in the following questions can apply to any kind of expenditure. Buying a tangible item, a service, eating out, etc.):

  • Do you really need it?
  • If yes, why do you need it?
  • Are your reasons for needing it valid?
  • Can you really afford it?
  • What do you already have that can be used instead?
  • What will its value be 6 months down the road? 1 year? 5 years?
  • If it is a tangible item will you still be using it?
  • If it is an intangible or transient item, is it really worth spending money on it that you would otherwise never see again?

Also consider:

  • The potential value of the money saved from not spending it and saving or investing it. Use the savings calculator on Prune Your Spending and Watch the Savings Grow to see how much a little money saved over time can become.
  • If you really think you have enough money saved for your future or financial goals.

Self-Discipline/Self-Control

No one likes hearing about discipline. It implies strictness, lack of freedom, and unpleasant tasks. But without self-discipline, one can never achieve success or financial freedom. So when confronted with a tempting expenditure:

  • Plan A: Walk Away
    The best way to exercise your self-discipline when confronted with temptation is to simply walk away – or close the browser window (and clear your browsing history and cache to make it harder to accidentally happen on it again.)
  • Plan B: If you can’t walk away, then wait.
    If you have a hard time walking away from the temptation, then at least wait. Convince yourself that you are not flat-out denying yourself what you want, but rather waiting for a sale or a price reduction. You will often find that by the time the price has decreased, so has your desire for the item.

    If it turns out you do still want the item, at least you will be spending less on it. Also, by delaying your expenditure, you can earn a little more interest on the money to be spent.

Will Power

You will find that as you practice self-discipline, your will power will grow. There will come a time when you can see something you really like and simply be able to admire it and move on without a struggle.

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Guide to Safe and Smart Traveling with Pets

Cocker Spaniel Dog Photo by Vera Volsanska PublicDomainPictures.netThere is nothing like a vacation with the whole family. Four-legged family members add a lot of fun to the trip, but they also add a lot of work and responsibility. (I’m thinking maybe each two legs is the equivalent of one two-legged person’s worth of energy.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, Frugal Travel Begins Before the Trip: Vacation Preparation Checklist, it is the preparation that determines how much fun you will have; the better prepared, the more you will be able to enjoy your trip. And again, the way to travel frugally is to travel prepared. So to follow up that post, I wanted to share some tips for helping your entire family enjoy your summer vacation. Most of these suggestions will help save you money by avoiding costly situations such as tips for staying in a hotel with your pet, keeping your dog healthy and safe to prevent costly vet bills (either immediate or future), and also just maintain your pet’s general well-being.

Safe and Smart Pet Travel

  • Finding Pet Friendly Lodgings
    Hotels are becoming more and more dog-friendly as businesses realize how many people consider their pets a part of the family and wish to travel with them. Do a search for Pet Friendly Hotels (or Discount Pet Friendly Hotels) to find lodgings at your destination. However, do not rely solely on the word of the pet friendly referral site; even if you will be booking your hotel stay through a referral site such as Expedia, which allows you to search for pet-friendly hotels, always double check the hotel’s pet policy on its official website. Some referral websites contain outdated, incomplete or simply wrong information on hotel pet policies. Some hotels may have accepted pets at one time but no longer, or have pet type, breed or weight restrictions. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is to just call the hotel and ask.

    When calling a pet-friendly hotel, be sure to:

    • Ask if they accept the type, breed and weight of your pet
    • Ask if there is a non-refundable pet fee (some hotels do not charge a non-refundable pet fee, something called a “cleaning fee”, and others charge as much a $150 per stay)
    • Ask about daily fees – per pet, per stay, etc. (most hotels charge per pet, per day)
    • If you are bringing more than one pet, be sure to check that they allow more than one pet per room
    • Any other pet policies you need to know about Continue reading

Monopoly Game Expansion #2: Personal Checking Account

Monopoly Deluxe Edition at Amazon.com

Expansions Difficulty/Complexity: Easy

This is a cash-free version of the game wherein all transactions are handled through personal checking accounts and recorded in individual check registers. Each player is responsible for his own account and must record all transactions – payment and receipt of rent, taxes, bribes, etc. in his check register.

Objective

To teach children (and some adults) how to accurately record transactions and balance a check register.

How to Play

  • Download and print the Bank of Monopoly Personal Check Register (includes rules)
  • Instead of distributing cash at the beginning of the game, players record the opening balance at the top of the check register (in the right-hand column under $ Balance). If playing the original Atlantic City Monopoly game with the distribution of 2 x $500, 2 x $100, 2 x $50, 6 x $20, 5 x $10, 5 x $5 , and 5 x $1 bills, the opening balance is $1,500.
  • Instead of using cash, all transactions are recorded in the check register under Deposit (+) and Payment (-), and all money belonging to the player is totaled in the $ Balance column.

Click on the image to view a sample check register

Our Fourpence Worth Monopoly Game Expansion: Personal Checking Account Check Register Sample

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