Spending Triggers that Can Ruin Your Budget

Sometimes the thing that makes us go over budget are certain triggers that take away our self control. You know, those things that send you into a spending frenzy or make you overpay for an item when it’s just not worth it. There is one way to stop them and that is to do your best to avoid them altogether!

Take a look at the list below to see if you relate to any of the spending triggers and learn how to curb your impulse spending:

Stress

One main trigger is stress, being aggravated, feeling down, or on edge. Seeking out shopping as an outlet while you are on edge or upset is completely normal. BUT it’s not healthy and really leads to a lot of impulse buys. Try to find a new outlet for your emotion, something like yoga, walking, doing puzzles, a long hot bath, or even playing with your kids. It might take awhile to retrain yourself but if you keep at it you can nip that bad habit in the bud.

Boredom

Just like with stress, many of us use shopping to fill the void of boredom. We aimlessly browse the aisles or online to kill time and it ends up leading us into many purchases we might not otherwise make. If you are shopping simply out of boredom find another way to relieve the boredom – read a book, take a walk, have some friends over or clean out a closet and donate a bag full of items – what a great way to reverse the spending!

Addiction

Plain and simple, shopping can be an addiction. Those sparkly shoes fly into the cart, that butter soft purse goes right on top, and heck, toss in that new set of towels. Everything you like is getting tossed into that cart…and it feels great! Shopping can be a real high for some but unfortunately, like all highs, the euphoria is short lived. Especially once you realize the balance of your credit card or bank account. If this sounds like you, look for healthier alternatives, like sports and exercise, to get that same rush of excitement, or your addiction can ruin your life.

Celebration

Maybe it’s not some “bad” emotion or stress that is causing you to spend impulsively but something fabulous that happened. Maybe it was that raise you finally got at work, or you finished a semester at university with top marks. While rewarding yourself for big things can be important and a great motivator, it’s important to keep your rewards in check. Instead of a big spending binge, try taking yourself to the movies or grab an ice cream cone. Small rewards can feel just as great as big ones.

Sales

Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good buy. Do you really need it? Will it get used? Is it worth the sale price? The lure of a sale can make us buy things we wouldn’t normally buy just because it looks like a deal. Look carefully at your motive behind the impulse to grab it. If the item is something you would normally buy, you can still take a little time to comparison shop and make sure you are getting the best deal.

Kids

Sometimes it is impossible to get to the store without kids but if you can, I suggest you do your shopping without them in tow. Grocery stores and every other kind of store is intentionally designed to turn them into materialistic begging little children.  Candy…right at the checkout with other items like trading cards, as seen on TV items, and little toys that call out to our kids, and they listen! But even as you stroll the aisles it could be a special box of cereal, a treat, just one lunch pack, one convenience food, etc.. and we add way more to our cart than we would if we were alone following our carefully crafted list because we love those little children of ours!

Convenience

Too tired to cook? Just pull up the Domino’s app and pizza dinner will be at your doorstep in minutes. Convenient yes but does it lead to needless overspending? I think so. As convenient as they may be, when you have Domino’s, Amazon and other similar stores apps on your cell phone or tablet it makes it too easy to make impulse buys. Consider deleting all your shopping apps and maybe taking the extra step to get on the computer or phone will cut back your spending. In both instances there’s a disconnect between us and our purchases and it makes it so much easier to part with our hard earned money.

A great way to pinpoint your spending trigger is to stop every time you want to make a purchase and try to figure out why. Do you really need it? Are you just bored? Are you only buying it because it’s on sale?  Keep track in a notebook, you might be surprised at what triggers you to spend.

What triggers your impulse spending? How do you try to deal with those triggers?

Saving as a Family: An Inspiring Financial Success Story

Last week, I wrote a post asking for your inspiring financial stories and I have one to share! This one is from Dorianne and she’s sharing how her entire family worked together for common savings goals. Enjoy!

We live in a rural community in Alberta.  When we moved out here from the big city I wondered what my kids could do for a job while growing up since there are no paper routes, McDonald’s, etc -the kinds of places kids and teens typically work.  So, we took on a family job of managing and being janitors of our community hall when our oldest was about 12 years old.

Not only were we involved in our community, the kids were able to earn money and learn to work hard, even, and especially, when we really didn’t feel like going to clean on the weekends, etc.

We were paid a base monthly amount of $250, plus hourly for cleaning.  The cleaning money went to the kids based on their hours of cleaning.  The base monthly amount went in to a separate bank account as savings for ‘family fun money’ and goals we had in mind.  It was NEVER to be touched for anything else, which was tempting at times as we work in oil and gas in this tough economy and could have used it for a few things!  BUT we were determined to stick with our savings goal!

The first thing we saved for was a tent-trailer and we have had many fun camping trips with it.  The second thing was tickets to Disney World.  That was our best family trip ever!  The third and last thing we decided to save for was a hot tub -something we all could enjoy for years to come.

As you can imagine, at only $250/month, these goals took years to save for.  Now that our kids are grown and starting to leave home and having ‘real’ jobs, we finally reached our hot-tub goal in the fall and quit our Community Hall job.  It really has been a life-long lesson for our kids!

How inspiring was that! Something to strive for, for sure 🙂 Thanks Dorianne!

Have you got an inspiring story to share? Send me an email here.

I’m Wondering: What Part of Your Grocery Bill Always Costs the Most?

I’ve got the cost of groceries on my mind lately so today’s question is related to groceries!

I’m Wondering:  What part of your grocery bill always costs the most? (Meat, produce, dairy…etc.)

Have you got something you’ve been wondering about that I could feature in a future I’m Wondering post?  Submit your question to us here!

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Debt

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Debt

Tips for avoiding credit card debt.

Credit card debt is something that millions of Canadians struggle with. It’s like a vicious cycle that never stops, unless you of course can get rid of the credit cards. However, it’s no secret that emergencies happen and sometimes those credit cards can be a lifesaver. Check out these tips for avoiding credit card debt in 2017.

Use the Envelope System

If you have never used the envelope system, it’s basically a bunch of paper envelopes, nothing fancy. You create a budget and use the envelopes as a way to hold the money for your various budget areas.  For example, you might leave $50 for eating out for the month. That $50 would go in your eating out envelope and once it’s gone it is gone.

Set Up That Emergency Fund

It’s absolutely nearly impossible to stay out of debt if you’re not able to pay things off when they arise. Start setting up your emergency fund now, so you can stay out of trouble later. It’s recommended that you have at least three months of living expenses saved up, but you can do what you feel is best for your situation.

Cut Up the Credit Cards

Of course one of the most common sense ways to avoid credit card debt is to cut up the credit cards. Instead of relying on credit cards, you can build up a savings. Having your emergency fund in place will help you avoid using a credit card when emergencies arise.

Avoid Big Purchases

Many people use their credit card to purchase bigger items that they cannot normally afford. Friends, this is called living above your means. You probably don’t need a new television or a bigger bed if you cannot pay cash for it. Sometimes avoiding these big purchases can help you be thankful for what you already have. Instead of using a credit card, start saving cash for your next purchase.

Don’t Put Someone Else on Your Credit Card

For some reason there is an option that allows you to put someone else on your credit card. This will rack up your credit card amount fast. The only one who should have access to your credit card is you. If your credit card gets lost or stolen, this can mean big trouble for your finances. If you’re trying to avoid credit card debt, it’s probably best to not put someone else’s name on your credit card.

Know the Details of Your Credit Card

There are some credit cards out there that come with a hefty price tag. They lure you in with their lovely interest rates and then pounce on you whenever the promotional interest rate is up. Always read the fine print to your credit card.

Do you have some credit card debt to work off this year? How are you going to accomplish that? What are your tips for staying credit card debt free?

Smart Ways to Resist The Desire to Buy

Resist the Desire to Buy

Smart Ways to Resist the Desire to Buy

Just how do we resist the desire to buy? We all like nice things. We all want nice things. But do we really need all those nice things? Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with wanting nice stuff, but sometimes we need to draw the line and say enough. I have gone through quite the learning curve in the last couple of years and I have found some things that always seem to help quench my thirst for more:

What are your Financial Goals?

I think this is the most important thing to consider. If you’re trying to get out of debt, a new $2000 couch will not be helping you. If you’re saving up for a vacation, a new bathing suit (when you have 10 others already) will not help you. Will buying a particular item help you meet the financial goals you have put in place? Or will it hinder it?

Don’t tempt yourself

I rarely think about buying something if I haven’t seen it first. Stay out of the stores if you can and do away with catalogues! Unsubscribe from all those emails to your favourite stores. (Even the Simply Frugal emails, if you must! ;))

Reconsider your need

Do you really need it or is it a want? If it’s a definite need then there is no way you  should feel guilty about your purchase.

Wait on it

I’ve found many times I can do without something if I simply walk away. For some reason, the item might not seem as appealing days later.

Find something else to do

Do something fun. Enjoy the outdoors, volunteer, etc!

Think about Costs

How many hours will you or your spouse have to work to pay for it? Will you have to fix it, clean it, store it, insure it?

Declutter your Home

Having a thorough decluttering session is a surefire way in my books to stop needless spending. I find once I finish decluttering my home, I am so satisfied with what I had let go of and all the space I cleared up, I really don’t want to clutter it back up!

Buy Quality the first time

If you carefully consider a purchase and buy something that will last, you won’t feel that constant desire to upgrade. There’s always a time and a place to buy temporary, but generally buying quality will save you money and time in the long run!

What are some techniques that you use to help you resist the desire to buy?

My Tried & True Way to Curb Impulse Spending

Tried & True Way to curb impulse spending

Impulse Spending: The buying of goods without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse.

Oxford Dictionaries

I am guilty of impulse spending and I’m all too familiar with the feeling of regret after I make said purchase. Are you all too familiar as well? These days, I’m much better at avoiding an impulse purchase thanks to my tried & true method. It’s simple, really, and has kept hundreds of dollars in my pocket over the years.

Here’s my method:

  1. Each time I feel the urge to buy something, I either write it down or save it in my online shopping cart.
  2. Allow 48 – 72 hours to pass without buying the item.
  3. During this waiting period:
    • I consider whether or not I actually need the item.
    • I think about what else I could do with that money.
    • I determine if I already own something that could essentially do the same thing.
    • I ask myself if I’d still buy it if it wasn’t on sale. (Most of the time I impulse buy because an item is on sale.)
  4. After 48 – 72 hours, I reevaluate how I feel about the item. Do I still really want it? Or has the desire faded?

There you have it! My tried & true way to curb impulse spending! It’s not 100% foolproof, but it has cut my spending down significantly over the years. After the process, I’m often looking at my list and wondering “why on earth did I think I needed all that stuff!”

For those of you that are joining me this month for the No Spend Challenge this could be a good lesson for you to incorporate. Since it is a No Spend challenge, I’d encourage you to write every single item down that you may want throughout the month. At the end of the month, take a look at your list and reevaluate your need/want. So instead of a 48 – 72 hour waiting period, you could end up with a 20 day waiting period. My guess is that if you have to wait that long you probably won’t want those items after all. 😉

I’d love to know how you curb impulse spending? Any tricks you care to share?

 

Tips for Making a Financial Plan for 2017

2017 will be here before you know it. Perhaps you haven’t even started thinking about a financial plan for the upcoming year? Maybe you don’t really know how to start?  Here are some tips for bringing your financial plan into fruition.

Tips for making a financial plan | Money saving tips

Tips for Making a Financial Plan for 2017:

#1. Start with a budget for the year.

To begin 2017, you should think about having a budget in mind. It doesn’t need to be a set budget, but it helps if you have some numbers in mind. For example, say you plan on spending $400 a month on groceries. It doesn’t have to be a set-in stone budget, but it does give you an idea or a goal to reach towards. You may adjust as needed.  Now that you have created a budget for each major area in regards to your finances, the biggest obstacle will be to stick with it. 🙂

#2. Prioritize your bills and debt.

Most people have bills and/or some sort of debt. With the New Year right on the horizon, you should prioritize your bills as much as possible. Also, seriously consider cutting down your debt. The less debt that you have, the more money you can put towards major saving goals.

#3. Know what your financial downfalls are.

Let’s be honest for a moment. Everyone has a financial downfall. Maybe yours is shopping. Whatever the financial downfall is, it’s important to know what it is, so you can avoid it. Everyone’s financial downfall has the potential to get them in trouble, which is why keeping tabs on it can help your financial plan, instead of hurting it.

#4. Have money goals in mind.

Every year, it’s smart to plan on having money goals. For 2016, my family had a “savings” goal in mind. We wanted to save as much as possible so that we could put a large down payment on the house we bought. Maybe in your case, there is a certain amount of money that you’d like to save before 2018 hits. These financial goals help us to create a financial plan that makes sense.

#5. Don’t let your financial plan become a distant memory.

Once you have put all this work into your financial plan for 2017, don’t let it fall to the wayside. Keep on top of it! Put this financial plan into action, you won’t regret it.

#6. Keep records of your financial plan.

This year, you could plan on putting a financial plan binder together. Everything that has to do with your financial plan can go into a binder. The Budget Binder kit that I have available is a great way to help you to stay more organized and on target with your financial plan in 2017.

What tips do you have for someone trying to make a financial plan this year? Do you have any lofty financial goals that you’d like to hit in 2017?

9 Excellent Black Friday Shopping Tips

The biggest shopping day of the year is about to happen next week. I’m pretty sure it now rivals and perhaps beats out Boxing Day sales. Black Friday can be a fantastic time to score great deals on Christmas gifts. It can especially be a great time to shop if you know a few tips and tricks to make your shopping successful.

Here are 9 excellent Black Friday shopping tips:

black-friday-shopping-tips

Bookmark my giant Black Friday post

Coming up next week, I will have my annual list (it’s giant!) of Canadian Black Friday deals. Simply peruse the list to find the stores that interest you, click the links, then start shopping from the comfort of your own home!

Buy discounted cards for the stores you will be shopping at.

Go shopping with discounted gift cards instead of cash to save yourself some moolah! There are many stores like Real Canadian Superstore/Loblaws, Rexall and Shoppers Drug Mart that offer discounts on gift cards for stores such as Old Navy and Gap during their weekly sales. You might also want to take a look at CardSwap.ca for discounted gift cards. However, I’m not sure you will receive your card in time for Black Friday shopping.

Ditch the big shopping cart if you’re shopping in-store.

Just don’t even think about getting one of those large cumbersome shopping carts if you plan on shopping in-store. Grab a basket or bring a large reusable shopping bag (IKEA bag anyone?) to avoid collisions or getting stuck in an aisle when you just want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible.

Make your shopping list in order of importance.

Is Santa promising to bring a Rescue Bots toy this year? You better put that first on your shopping list! By making your shopping list in order of importance, you’re really helping yourself to not forget that all important gift.

Sign up for emails for the stores you will be shopping at.

Whether you’re shopping in-store or online it can be extremely valuable to sign up for the email list of the stores you will be shopping at. Almost certainly, they will include coupon codes or coupons you can print/show on your phone for an extra discount. Often times email subscribers can also start shopping the sales earlier online.

Shop online.

The same sales are typically available online too, save for the extreme doorbusters. Save yourself some time and energy by shopping from the comfort of your own home. (This is my preferred method ;))

Join loyalty programs

Might as well join the loyalty programs for the stores you will be shopping at if you haven’t already! Collect points that can translate into free items or even extend certain perks. (I’m thinking the TJX card from Winners.)

Shop online at Amazon.

Because I’m such a fan of online shopping, I usually check Amazon.ca first. Black Friday will be no different because I find that they usually have some great one day deals. Another Amazon tip: Use CamelCamelCamel to track Amazon prices so you can see how today’s Amazon price compares to the rest of the year. Just enter the Amazon URL to see a graph of the price history. You can even sign up for price-drop alerts.

Set a budget and stick to it.

You’re really not getting any deals per say, if you put yourself into debt trying to get the latest and greatest thing. If you’ve created a shopping list, it should be easy to stay within budget because you have an idea of the price of each item. Don’t ruin your holidays worrying about debt! There’s rarely any deal that is worth that amount of stress.

Do you shop on Black Friday? I’d love to hear your Black Friday Shopping tips in the comments below.

Frugal Stocking Stuffers

Frugal Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stocking stuffers can be so much fun!  My husband and I really only exchange stockings each year.  I like to fill his up with practical things and a few goodies.  But it’s quite easy to get carried away buying all sorts of little things to add to the stockings so I’ve compiled a list of frugal stocking stuffers that you might enjoy!

Have you got any other ideas?  What do you normally add to stockings?

6 Ways to Save Money on Family Holiday Photos

6-ways-to-save-money-on-family-holiday-photos

Can you believe it is time to start thinking about holiday family photos already? The holidays are the perfect time to get family photos done, especially if you are considering photo greeting cards or other photo gifts. But how can you get amazing pictures without going broke? The great news is there are plenty of ways to save money on family holiday photos while still putting your best foot forward. Take a look below at 6 ways to save money on family holiday photos so you can be sure you get gorgeous photos at a great price.

1. Scour for coupons.

Chances are, you won’t have to scour at all! Newspapers are filled with photo studio coupons around the holiday season since studios know this is when customers are most active. Chances are you can find packages for as low as $20 with coupon for some of your favorite local studios.

2. Look for mini sessions.

If you want to use a private photographer, look for mini session deals. Many photographers offer mini sessions around the holidays which include a 30 minute session and 8-10 images. This is perfect for snagging a few shots that you can use in greeting cards and photo gifts! Ask local photographers in your area if they offer any mini sessions.

3. Head to Old Navy.

Why? Because they offer all sorts of color coordinated pieces for the whole family! Plus, during the holidays you can score these items for as much as 40% off. Choose a color theme of 3-4 colors and mix and match Old Navy clothing pieces for a picture perfect wardrobe.

4. Skip the extras.

Do you really need that photo keychain? Mousepad? Or fancy editing? Probably not. Skip all of these extras no matter how cute they are. Instead, stick to the basic prints and packages you are offered and bypass any additional photo perks which can hike up your price.

5. Ask a friend to take the photos.

Do you have a friend with a creative eye? Ask them to help you out. See if they will take a few family shots for you in exchange for a small fee or favor. Find a nice field or fireplace to gather around and take a beautiful shot. Use online photo editing (a program like PicMonkey is great) to make your photos pop! Then, just save and send them to your nearest photo lab for printing.

6. Check out Groupon.

Groupon is where I find a deal every year on portraits from Walmart. While Walmart definitely isn’t fancy, I’m still very happy with how our photos turn out! We also get a ton of photos with the package! Win!

As you can see there are many simple ways to get holiday family photos for less. Give these tips for getting holiday family photos for less a try and see what amazing results you can achieve.

I’d love to know how you save on family holiday photos each year. Let me know in the comments!