Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 Penny Pinching Tips: Shopping dos and don'ts

Reggie and I have been looking to cut back on costs recently, with the baby arriving, and my income decreasing drastically we thought we would prepare ahead of time. So every other week I plan to share some of the ways we have found to cut monthly costs. I hope that this might help any of you who are looking to do the same.

Today we are going to look at shopping habits. Most people don't realize that they spend as much as they do, especially with the convenience of plastic money. The tips I am sharing today will encourage you to look at your spending habits to help you determine if you are spending unnecessarily.
  1. Take fewer trips to the store:  This seems really simple, and it is! The more you expose yourself to chances to spend money the more money you will spend. For groceries I would recommend you put aside a certain time each week to do a big shopping trip, make a list and try not to visit the grocery store when it is not grocery day. Also, avoid passing time by 'browsing' it is so easy to convince yourself to buy that shirt that fits so perfectly, or to pick up a Christmas present 6 months early - if you are not in the store you can't make the unnecessary purchase.
  2. Do you really need it? If you do like to spend time browsing, remember this phrase when you are out and about. Often times if you ask yourself if you really need it, or actually want it you give yourself the chance to second guess the purchase. Many people will use shopping, or spending, as a method of controlling boredom, or to fill an emotional void and usually the items purchased during these trips are rarely used, worn or looked at afterwards.
  3. Avoid over-consumption: Following with the previous two tips, if you try to be conscious about what you spend and what you are spending on you can try to avoid over-consumption. Our society these days is obsessed with stuff. Reggie and I just had our beautiful baby boy, and it is amazing how much stuff people think a baby needs. Now, don't get me wrong we appreciate everything we have been given! But it seems some people think we don't have enough stuff and it is a little overwhelming. Anyways, the point being most people in our society are consume much more than is actually necessary. Just by being aware of this, you can start to reduce it.
  4. Buy something, get rid of something: This statement might seem like it is encouraging over-consumption, by encouraging you to throw something away, or donate it, just so you can feel ok about purchasing something new. This is not what I am trying to say, instead I encourage you, every time you go to make a purchase, to think of what you have at home and what you would give up in order to bring this new item home. I guarantee there is something similar at your house already, and if you aren't ready to part with it, then you aren't ready to purchase a 'new one'.
  5. Challenge - Track your Spending: Finally, I have a challenge for you! Over the next two weeks, until the next Penny Pinching Post, write down every purchase you make. This includes your morning coffee and afternoon snack. I would encourage you to keep track of categories: household (bills), food, entertainment, clothing, car (gas, repairs, insurance)/transportation, gifts, other. Feel free to arrange the categories as you see fit, these are just suggestions. And after two weeks take a look at what you spent, and take a look at each category, and see where you spend the most. This is a good exercise, which I have done numerous times, that gives you a great look at what you spend and where you spend it. It is also a great way to find places to reduce spending. I will do the challenge also, and report to you in two weeks and share my spending habits. 
So there you have it, a few more tips to help you save a few pennies. I hope you will join me in tracking your spending. I ensure you it is a good exercise, and you might even notice a pattern and begin to alter your spending habits before the two weeks are over.

Who's with me?


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