Savings Tip: avoid spending money on non-essentials

We’ve all been there. You walk into your favorite store for a specific item (or maybe just to browse) and leave with bags full of items you weren’t planning on buying.

What can be very satisfying at the moment can soon change into buyer’s remorse when you get home. If you’re trying to ward off that sinking feeling, here are some tips to avoid spending money on non-essentials.

Create a budget and figure out what you need versus what you want
Start with the essentials – food, housing, utilities, transportation, and some clothing should be on your list. You may need new shoes for work, but do you “need” them to be a big-ticket brand name?

Pay in cash
Studies have shown that people tend to spend more when paying with credit or debit cards than they do with cash. That’s because there is a concept called the “pain of paying” which a shopper feels when purchasing an item. Cash tends to produce more pain than paying with a card does. Shopping with cash can be a helpful tool when trying to avoid overspending.

Shop with a list
From clothes shopping to grocery shopping, going in with a list can help you stay focused. If you commit to only buying items on the list, you will be less likely to go rogue and purchase items you don’t need.

Keep track of your purchases
There are many tools out there to help with budgeting and monitoring spending. For example, the Mint app can help you track and manage your money using its budget tool, which categorizes your transactions and sends you alerts when you go over budget.

Be wary of sale items
Everyone loves a good deal, but it’s important to think about whether or not you really need the item to begin with. Spending money on sale items is still spending money. Retailers know how to attract your attention and convince you to spend.

Try a no-spend challenge
A no-spend challenge is a set amount of time, such as a week or month, where you don’t spend money in certain categories. Not only does this help you cut back on spending, but it also makes you more aware of the amount you could be saving if you regularly reduce spending in that area.

What are some of the ways you avoid spending money on non-essentials?