This is the month you’re going to do it. The time has come. It’s finally here. You’re going to get control over your spending and your money once and for all! You have goals, a budget, good intentions, and by golly, nothing is going to stop you from succeeding!
Then you see a commercial that your favorite store is having a huge sale …
Or you walk by your favorite coffee shop and can’t believe how amazing it smells …
Or your coworker shows up to work with a new [insert any desired object here].
Before you know it, your plan is derailed and you bought the thing. You’re feeling guilty and discouraged.
You have just fallen victim to financial temptation.
You allowed yourself to be led astray or lured away from your financial goals.
Financial seduction is so much deeper than simply “falling for temptations.” You turned your back on your plans and your goals. Your commitment to succeed financially was put on the back burner for the equivalent of a shiny decoy.
Temptations are a way of life and overcoming every temptation we face is unrealistic. Eventually, our willpower will give out, and we’ll be seduced. Therefore, the proper strategy is to limit the number of instances where we are forced to tell ourselves “No!”
We can’t avoid temptations altogether, but we can certainly try!
Here are 13 simple changes you can make to curb some of your most common pitfalls and ultimately prevent financial temptations in the future:
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy. What’s important to your friend or colleague may not be of value to you. Just because they want to spend their money on something, doesn’t mean you should too.
- Make a Top 3 List. Write down three things you want. If an item doesn’t occupy one of those coveted three spots, don’t buy it…not until it makes the cut.
- Realize commercials are trying to sell you something. Their entire job is to entice you and lure you in – hook, line, and sinker. Don’t fall for it! Fast forward or skip commercials, if possible. Get up and do something active such as a quick chore, refilling your drink, or checking the mail instead of sitting through a commercial break.
- Cancel the store alert emails you receive. A 25% off coupon? Ooh, fancy. A 24-hour Only sale? You better hurry. If not for that email, you probably wouldn’t have even thought of that store or the items they’re selling. It’s incredibly likely that by not receiving that 25% off coupon, you’ll spend much less – saving more money than the coupon would have saved you. You’re better off without it. Out of sight, out of mind!
- Get an accountability partner. Find someone who knows how important your financial goals are to you and what challenges you struggle with. Then whenever you’re tempted, pick up the phone! His/her job is to talk you off the ledge, so don’t get mad when they tell you, “No, you can’t buy X.”
- Practice 1:1. For every item you buy unplanned, you must give up another item. If you buy yet another pair of shoes, you must sell or donate a pair that’s been sitting in your closet.
- Work with a Financial Advisor. Mixing temptations and emotions with investing is usually a bad idea, so make sure you have an advisor you trust who keeps you on track with your goals and your plan.
- Ladies- Stay out of Target! Steer clear of your favorite store whether that’s Best Buy, Kohl’s, or Nordstrom’s.
- Practice delayed gratification. If you see something you want, it’s not that you can’t have it, you just have to wait. Force yourself to put it off one pay period or one month. When that time comes, you’ll either still want the item so you buy it or you’ve forgotten all about it and already moved on. Here are 10 delayed gratification quotes to help get you inspired.
- Leave yourself a wallet reminder. Print a picture of your bigger goal (new house, new car, savings, no more credit cards, etc.) and wrap it around your debit or credit card. Every time you spend money, you hold your goal in one hand and your card in the other – what a powerful reminder of the consequences of your choices.
- Get on a realistic budget. The key term here is “realistic,” which means one that allows you some flexibility. If you love yogurt, your budget should include a little bit of spending money for this expense because it’s going to happen. Moderation right? (Want a really great budgeting template? Check out our budgeting guide.)
- Know what’s REALLY IMPORTANT to you. This is deeper than “What makes you happy?” New shoes may make you happy, or going out to eat may be convenient, but do they really bring you fulfillment? What do you really care about? What do you value? Answer that question then put your money behind those things.
- Appreciate what you have. Once you begin to value what you have, you want for less. Fewer things catch your eye and your level of contentment skyrockets.
Some of the tips and tricks above may work for you and others may not. Making even one small change is a step in the right direction. As we said, the key here isn’t perfection. It’s progress. You’re likely not going to avoid every temptation that comes your way, but avoiding some is way better than avoiding none.
For more information tips, tricks and ways to conquer financial temptations, check out the Fiscal Fitness Facebook page.