I can remember a time when I would see something I liked and I would just buy it. If I didn’t have the money, I would put it on my credit card and figure out how to pay for it later.
Those were the broke years. Once I started using money rules to save, managing my finances got a whole lot easier.
Using Money Rules To Save
I realized that if I was going to stop feeling broke all the time, I needed to change my spending habits. I was going to need to set some rules or guidelines for spending. Ever since then, I have found that if I follow my money rules, I am able to save more money than if I just winged it.
So here are the money rules I try to follow when I am about to spend money:
Money Rule #1: Determine if the purchase is a need or want.
I make sure I ask myself my motivation for the purchase. Sometimes I am attracted to things solely because they are on sale or cute, not because they are something I truly need. I also think about how I am feeling when I am shopping. Am I spending money because I feel stressed, sad, angry, or tired? Am I feeling rushed? Your emotions can cause you to spend more money than you intend to, so try to shop when you are calm and focused.
Money Rule #2: Establish a waiting period.
Stores do a great job of convincing you that you need to BUY NOW! But you don’t. Set a waiting period for yourself to see if it is something you really do need or want. I like to put things on an Amazon wish list. Then, when I revisit it in a week or a month or a year, I can remove the things that I know longer want. Even if you just take the time to walk around the store and come back 30 minutes later, it can help you determine if purchasing the item is a good decision. Establishing a waiting period also gives you time to explore other options that could save you money.
Money Rule #3: Look to see if I already own an item that could serve the same purpose.
Look through your closets, cupboards, basement, and garage. Do you already own something that you could use instead? Do you have something you could repurpose that would work just as well? I was all set to rush out and buy special containers to organize my bulk dry goods, and then I realized I could easily repurpose other containers to do the job.
Money Rule #4: Shop for items secondhand.
We are a consumer culture and we are quick to unload things we no longer want. That means there is a huge inventory of gently used items that you could purchase for a fraction of the price of new. Check your local Facebook selling groups. Check Craigslist. Check Freecycle. Check your local thrift shops and garage sales. It may take some more time, but the savings is worth it. Plus you are doing something kind for the planet.
Money Rule #5: Do your homework.
While I consider myself a cheapskate, but I will not buy junk just to spend less. Do some research on your purchase. And if you’re making a major purchase, make sure you do a lot of research! The best way to make your money stretch is to make sure that you are spending it on items of value. Buy the best quality you can afford.
Money Rule #6: Set a spending limit.
You have a budget (or you should!). Don’t let a great deal or a case of the “wants” cause you to overspend. Set a limit for how much you are willing to spend. It is especially helpful if you and your spouse can agree on this figure. For example, in our house, any purchase over $100 needs to be discussed prior to making the purchase. In your house, that number could be $25 or $50 or $200. Determine what works for your budget.
Money Rule #7: Shop for the best possible price.
You can make sure you are getting the best price by shopping around and looking for all discounts that are available such as coupons, rebates, and cash-back sites. You can also ask for discounts, purchase a display model, or barter for the item. The less you spend, the more you save.
Money Rule #8: If you don’t have the money to pay for it, don’t buy it.
This can be hard. Especially when you’ve determined it’s a ‘need’ and not a ‘want.’ But the truth is, if you want to get out of debt and stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, you cannot continue to buy what you can’t afford to pay for cash.
Money Rule #9: Discuss all purchases I make with my spouse.
My husband and I trust each other enough to know that neither one of us is going to rush out and start buying a lot of expensive stuff. But we still make a point to discuss any money we spend over the course of the day, even if it’s just a soda at the gas station or a t-shirt bought on clearance. We do this to keep ourselves accountable for our spending, and to make sure that we stay on the same page financially. When we follow this rule, we significantly reduce the risk of overspending, and that saves us money.
Money Rule #10: Save first, then spend.
One of my favorite ways to save money is to make sure that I save first before I do anything else. You can do this by having a portion of your paycheck deposited in a savings account. It’s much easier to save money when you have it, then when you don’t! If you wait until after you’ve made your purchases to put money away in savings, you probably won’t save anything at all.
The key to using money rules to save is to be thoughtful and plan for your purchases. Shop intentionally, not haphazardly, and you will save.
Do you have money rules? What sorts of rules do you follow when it comes to spending money?