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Resisting Temptation

by Mike

This guest post was written by Jason, the proprietor of Live Real, Now, a blog focused on spending–and saving–in the real world. It was written for a blog swap run by the Yakezie personal finance blog network to answer the question “What is your best day to day money saving tip?

There I was, minding my own business, when suddenly, Sumdood came out came out of nowhere and forced me to buy a new flat-panel TV, a time share in St. Thomas a join one of those overpriced underwear-of-the-month clubs. Talk about a bad day, rivaled only by the day the odd, lacy package gets delivered on the first of the month.

No, really, as I go about my business each day, the temptation to spend my money can be almost irresistible. Yet somehow, I manage. Is it because I have superhuman willpower? I don’t. Is it because I’m chased by a leather-clad, sjambok-wielding pixie who chastises me for every unbudgeted purchase? That’s not it either, but it makes for a fun picture.

What’s my secret?

I follow a principle I like to call “Don’t buy that!” Don’t buy that! is a simple plan that is surprisingly hard to implement, mostly because following the plan means delaying gratification for a while. Delayed gratification is never as much fun as instantly indulging every whim.

I can hear your shouts of protest. If it’s so hard, how can I expect you to do it? Easy. Just follow the rules. There are a few things you can do to make Don’t buy that! a realistic plan of action for you.

1. Find a slap-me-upside-the-head buddy. I use my wife. It works for me and she tends to enjoy it. If I’m in a store and I get tempted to buy something awesome, I call her for a reality check. Sometimes, it’s as straight-forward as my calling her and saying “Honey, tell me ‘no’.” Other times, she actually has to talk me down using–horror of horrors–logic and reasoning. Usually, she just invokes rule #2.

2. If you have to check if you can afford it, you can’t. If I’m not immediately sure that we have the money to buy something, it is far too big of a purchase to buy on an impulse. Big purchases need to be planned. “Honey, I found this great TV on sale!” “Can we afford it?” “I don’t know, let me che…crap. Nevermind.”

3. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything. We could afford a fancy vacation in Paris every year, but not if we also pay for extended super-cable, Netflix, dinner out every night, and a new car every three years. Expenses need to be prioritized.

4. The little things can ruin you. There’s a story about a nail missing from a horse’s shoe, which lamed the horse, which made the knight miss a battle, which was lost, which led to the loss of the war, which led to the loss of the kingdom. For want of a single nail, a nation fell. If I buy a new book or movie every week, will I end up short on my mortgage payment? It’s far easier to pick up some of the little things after the necessities are met than it is to try to pay the mortgage after squandering your paycheck on lottery tickets and Mad Dog. Handle your needs before you worry about your wants. Sometimes, that means putting off the things you want, but having the things you need makes it worthwhile.

5. Remember the past. When I bought a bunch of movies a few months ago, I was happy. New movies go great the the movie screen and projector in my living room. Want to take a guess at how many of those movies I’ve taken the time to watch? I certainly enjoyed the act of buying the movies and the anticipation of watching them far more than I’ve enjoyed seeing them site on the shelf, unopened. What a waste. It happens regularly. Often, we get far more enjoyment out of the idea of doing something that the actual doing. If I can remember that the anticipation is better than the act, before I buy whatever is tempting me, I can usually avoid buying it.

These 5 rules have helped me to follow my master plan of Don’t buy that! That plan is the single most useful thing I have ever used to save money.

What’s your best tip to save money?

Jason runs the blog, Live Real, Now. Please take a moment to go over there and check him out. Thanks!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

IPA @ investmentpropertyasset.com

We, myself and my wife, procrastinate on big purchases and we seem to over analyze them. I believe doing this keeps us from making purchases we don’t need or make impulse purchases. For example, my last watch broke some two years ago. I went without a watch for the past two years on the advise of my wife as I have a cell phone so I know what time it is. I always felt a little “naked” since I didn’t have a watch on so I just recently purchased one and am enjoying having a watch again. It took two years to purchase a $50 item, now that is plain nuts!

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Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter

I love the tip about if you have to check if you can afford it you can’t . That is so true. We should know where we are at financially and if we can take on that ‘x’ expense.
Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter´s last blog post ..Saving Money By Trying to Live a “Pioneer Lifestyle”

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krantcents

There are needs and wants, we discuss the wants above the $50 threshold. We are maxing out all the retirement savings (403B, IRA & Roth IRA), so this works living on what’s left with a few splurges. Anything out of the ordinary (>$50) we agree as a couple makes sense.
krantcents´s last blog post ..Budgeting Is a Waste of Time

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MoneyCone

Sumdood is always making me buy things I don’t need! :) Enjoyed this humorous post!

The little impulsive buys certainly adds up! A dollar here and a dollar there and soon you’ve spent a nice chunk that could’ve been put to better use.

One tip that helped me in the past was trying to pay cash for a big ticket item. The very act of having to go to the ATM made me put off the purchase.
MoneyCone´s last blog post ..Never Pay Full Price

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Everyday Tips

I don’t really need much, so I don’t spend much on things. However, I am great for wanting to take off for the weekend with the family and hit the beach. So, I tend to spend on experiences. I don’t know that I will stop while the kids are home still because my time with them is dwindling. I don’t feel too bad about it though because I truly don’t spend on anything else. I always make sure I get a good deal on my trips too!
Everyday Tips´s last blog post ..10 Tips to Radically Improve Productivity in the Home Office

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Eliza from Happy Simple Living

What really resonated with me is tip #3 – you can have anything you want, but not everything. Ah, priorities! Impulse spending can knock our priorities right out of the water, and I appreciate this excellent article to help us all stay on track. If you notice a woman mumbling “Don’t Buy That!” at the mall this weekend, that’ll be me. :-)
Eliza from Happy Simple Living´s last blog post ..Guest Post – Saving Money On Food & Drinks

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