Online shopping, convenient delivery services, beautifully appointed boutiques and shopping malls make it easy and appealing to contribute to the national economy.
For many, it’s an emotional outlet that produces a feeling of euphoria. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, five percent of Americans may be opening their purses a little too wide.
There’s an adage that says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Just like any type of behavior, it takes effort and attention to acknowledge and change it. There are many reasons a person enjoys the thrill of the purchase: insecurity, loneliness, boredom and familiar habits to name a few. People from every socioeconomic bracket find themselves in debt when they are oblivious to what, how and where they spend.
Here are some signs you may want to rethink your next purchase.
You stash your bags in the trunk of your car.
Keeping your purchases hidden away until the coast is clear is a not-so-subtle sign of deception and/or guilt.
You play off a new outfit like it’s something that’s been hanging in your closet for years.
“What, this old thing?” is sometimes a common response to the question, “Is that a new outfit?”
You have your credit card bill sent to a post office box or alternate address to avoid an altercation with your spouse.
Yes, this is a giant red flag.
You return more than you keep.
While many stores have a liberal return policy, it’s important not to take advantage of their good will. Nordstrom’s and LL Bean are perfect examples of great customer service – but they aren’t dumb. They know what you are doing when your credit card history is flagged with multiple weekly or monthly returns.
You’re ordering online during your kid’s recital.
Remember, little eyes are watching you.
You equate stuff with status.
A designer bag or pair of new shoes may make you feel like a king or queen for the moment, but if you are struggling to pay rent or making minimum payments on your credit card, it’s just another end of the month stressor. Most uber wealthy people don’t feel the need to flaunt it.
You know your credit card number by heart.
Including the expiration date and security code.
You’re worried about the final bill at upscale restaurants because you splurge on expensive wines.
You have zero savings but all the latest technology.
You would like to update your iPhone or computer – as soon as you get your next bonus check.
The bill is split between multiple credit cards when making a major – or minor – purchase.
If you can relate to the majority of these, here are 11 ways to tighten your purse strings:
1. Keep a Record of Your Purchases
You will be surprised at how much you are spending. A daily drink at a local coffee bar can quickly add up. A high-quality coffee machine for your home may be worth the expense to save dollars and cents in the long run.
2. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Just like a diet, it can be easy to jump off track but the results will be fruitful if you stay on course. Create a spreadsheet and take a careful look at your expenses.
3. Figure Out What Sets You Off
When do you crave a retail fix? Are you more prone to go shopping in the middle of the day? On a Saturday morning? Right after work? Find a diversion such as a gym class or a new hobby to replace your shopping sprees. You will stay occupied, make new friends and learn a new skill in the process.
4. Map Out Long Term and Short Term Goals
Looking forward to a trip, a car or other paying for college tuition is a good incentive to save.
5. Do an Inventory of Your Clothing and Shoes
You’ll be surprised by how much you have. Dedicate an entire day to cleaning out and shopping your own closet.
6. Know Your Wants Versus Needs
Delegate a reasonable amount of dollars towards each.
7. Consult a Financial Planner
Ask around for references and find someone you trust who can guide you.
8. Avoid Sales Unless You Need the Item
Just because something is discounted doesn’t mean you must purchase it. If you don’t need it, skip it.
9. Eliminate Most of Your Credit Cards
Multiple credit cards are often multiple opportunities to overspend.
10. Use Cash Whenever Possible
Give yourself a dollar amount and stick to it. Encourage your entire family to do the same.
It’s important to all be on the same page when it comes to spending and saving money. Create a family budget and an end of the year incentive for hitting your goal.
You may also like 12 Ways to Cut Down on Daily Expenses. For more of Diane’s etiquette tips read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life here.