We all have things we do routinely to which we never give a second thought. It’s the magazine we pick up at that check-out counter, the cup of coffee we grab on the way to work, the candy bar we buy every afternoon as a quick pick-me-up. Whether you’re shopping with the kids and letting them pile stuff in your grocery cart to keep ‘em quiet, or hitting up the bookstore for something to read on a quiet Saturday afternoon, you might be spending money you could be saving.
For the next month, try this experiment to become conscious about how you’re spending your money. It doesn’t matter if even if as you read this you say, “Yuck!” or “How anal!” Just do it. Keep track of every cent you spend and what you spend it on. At the end of each week, add up what you’re spending and see if you can spot Spending Mice that are nibbling away at your Savings Cheese. Then look for ways to plug the holes in your unconscious spending.
Allocate a specific amount of cash (less than what you’re currently spending) to your Small Indulgences category. When the cash runs out, you can’t buy anything. Save the rest.
Substitute other sources, like the library for the bookstore or a home-made lunch for the food court or local restaurant.
Leave your credit and debit cards at home if the temptation to spend is so overwhelming you can’t get it under control. Walking around with just a $20 bill in your wallet to see you through the day is a great way to feel less pressure to spend. (Make sure you have a full tank of gas!)