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Mindless spending is usually the biggest budget breaker for all of us.
You’ve got your fixed expenses in order yet you still seem to be blowing the budget, and when you’ve sat down and looked over your spending tracker for the month, you’re shocked to find just how much that £15 in B&M here and £50 ASOS order there really adds up.
So what can we do to help us avoid spending temptation?
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I don’t know about you, but my inbox is full of promotional emails from various sites I’ve signed up to over the years.
I now just delete them without even looking at them, but if the lure of a sale is too much temptation for you think, about unsubscribing.
You can manually do this by clicking on the ‘unsubscribe’ link (normally in the footer of the email) or you could register for a service such as Clean Fox to do it for you.
While we’re on the subject of digital decluttering, let’s take a look at our social media accounts.
Do you really need to be following brands on Facebook and Instagram? Remove them from your feed so that you’re not tempted to browse the sites.
You can also adjust your preferences for ads that show on your feeds. On Facebook, you can click the top right corner of the ad and hide it, or you can go in and change your settings in ‘ad preferences’. On Instagram, go to settings > ads > ad activity.
We’ve removed the emails, removed the ads – but how about the FOMO and your social media friends showing off their new purchases, holiday photos and nights out?
If you find yourself feeling down about yourself after a scrolling session, maybe it is time to take a break. Try limiting your screen time after a certain time in the evening. You will feel much better for it.
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When you’re out and about, only take the cash you need with you.
If you know you’re going out to lunch, only take enough money to pay for lunch so that you’re not tempted by other shops and unnecessary purchases en route. If you’re going food shopping, taking cash will help you stick to budget and stop those spontaneous treats and offers getting dropped in the trolley.
Swiping your card or even your mobile now, is just far too easy – I don’t think our brains even recognise it as really spending. There is something about spending cash that makes it that bit harder to part with.
By this, I mean know what’s in your own home. Gather all your toiletries up and keep them where you use them.
Got lots of Christmas giftsets stashed in your bedroom? Open them up and take the shower gels/bath creams to the bathroom instead of buying more each time you run out.
Same with food; look through your fridge and cupboards before you go shopping so you know exactly what you need to buy.
Talking of food – get into the habit of making a meal plan – this is singlehandedly the one thing that has made the biggest difference to our food bill.
When you know exactly what you are going to be making, you can purchase accordingly and not fill your basket with things you don’t need.
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If you see something that you’d like but you don’t have room in the budget, make a note of it and create yourself a wish list.
Then, next time someone asks what you’d like for Christmas/Birthdays you can give them an idea of what you actually want instead of getting another toiletry set that you probably won’t use (or maybe you will now you’ve started keeping them in the bathroom!).
Stop seeing shopping as a hobby and browsing the shops as fun.
Find something else to fill your time with. Chances are even if you just go ‘window’ shopping, you will end up being tempted and buying a load of rubbish you don’t really need.
If you need to go into town to run an errand, don’t browse the other shops while you’re there – work on changing your mindset to save your pocket.
If that date with a friend you regularly meet in town for coffee turns into a shopping spree afterward, try suggesting an alternative place to meet.
I used to meet a friend in Costa Coffee in Next, so you bet I would be browsing the shop before/after meeting her.
Remove yourself from tempting situations and avoid spending temptation until you have a better handle on controlling your money.
Another spend that stems from boredom is going out on your lunch break.
Sometimes our lunch breaks are too long to just sit and eat, so we venture offsite to kill time instead.
While getting out and having a break is a good thing, going to the shops every day probably isn’t such a good idea. Depending on where you work try to make your lunch break more productive.
You could listen to a podcast, read a book, do some surveys or just go for a walk. But you definitely don’t need to go to Asda for the 4th time this week!
How do you avoid spending temptation?
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I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!