There seems to be 3 common goals when I lead my vision board workshops: Finances, Fitness, and Travel.
I also put finances at the top of my goal list every year. I’ve tried a few different systems and they seem to work fine, but don’t really stick. I’ve kept an envelope cash system which was pointless because it was my online spending that needed the most control. I’ve used an online envelope system called Good Budget, which I love and was effective, but opening up another app wasn’t consistent either.
This year — I plan to attack my spending at a different angle. Here are 5 ways I plan to cut back on unnecessary spending, they might work for you too.
#1) Cut Out the Triggers
I have a junk email address I use to sign up for my favorite brands. I get so many emails during the day notifying me of sales, exclusive, deals and “You have been chosen for this one time opportunity!”. Often times at work I like to check out the emails that get pinged my way as a sort of “brain break”.
These emails and brain breaks lead me down so many unnecessary rabbit holes where I end up purchasing something I don’t need. Or even worse, the email triggers make me think I do need something.
This year, I will take the time to unsubscribe from all the unnecessary emails, and you should too.
#2) Remove Credit Card Information from Shopping Sites.
This is a difficult one to do, especially for sites like Amazon. Taking out the easy one-button-purchase option, will force the physical action of taking out the credit card and in a sense “swiping away”. In turn, this physical action will signal to my brain that I am spending money; hopefully it will lead me to think twice about whether I really need that product or not.
#3) Start a Spending Journal
I’m a huge fan of logging my meals. Writing down everything I ate helps me control my mindless and emotional snacking. It’s more of a mindfulness practice than a calorie counting practice, in fact I don’t count calories at all.
It takes the honor code system. When I’ve grazed the kitchen during a stressful day, it’s a wake up call when I write in every piece of oreo, cupcake, slice of cheese, and how many pieces of starbursts did I grab from the office candy jar walking in and out? Having to reflect and 1) exercise my memory and 2) feel the pen to paper for every piece of food helps me think twice the next time I feel like grazing.
Just like a food journal, I plan to keep a spending journal to jot down my expenses. I keep a super portable notebook in my wallet to make sure it happens in real time.
You may be wondering why I don’t just use an app or do it in excel… but I have! It’s just not the same. I use an excel spreadsheet to document my budget and analyze my spending habits, but it’s not very effective when it comes to controlling mindless swiping or one-click purchases. The analyzation was happening after the damage was already done; and since it was online, I just clicked a few commands on google sheets and that was the extent of my interactions with spending. There is science behind the act of writing something down and making it stick in your brain and so far, keeping a tally of the day and a total of the week in my journal has been working.
Of course, as a planner nerd, I love another reason to start a new planner 😉 so if you want to know what kind of portable planners, or expense journals I recommend, leave me a comment below. Ya’ girl will give you the deets.
#4) Meal Prep! Meal Prep! Meal Prep!
This is one we’ve all heard before. But I’m telling you, it’s mentioned all the time because it is so true! Putting the time in to come up with a meal plan sucks, but having a list in hand at the grocery store helps me stay focused, and get out faster. I’ve always found the grocery store such a drag… it’s always cold.
Check out my post Meal Prep Tips for Lazy People. Meal prepping doesn’t have to be THAT detailed, just knowing what you have on hand and getting the essentials and sticking to it will help you cut back on the spending.
Don’t forget! Meal prepping is a three step process… Now that you’ve planned it out, and done the shopping, you need to actually prep it. So be sure that you don’t just let the food sit around and go bad after you’ve put in all the work of planning and shopping.
Tip: Be sure to use clear containers when you store food in your fridge. We have a few stainless steel bento-box-type of containers where the food always goes bad. When I open up the fridge to look for something to eat, my eyes glaze over the metal box because I can’t see the food inside. It’s happened quite a few times, and it’s always a bummer when it’s something you actually want to eat.
#5) The Best for Last: Practice Gratitude
I was feeling unsatisfied at work and was spending time looking for the next job that would “allow me” more time to work on my passions, give me the brain space, and motivate me to follow my dreams. Then I realized that I was not living in the moment. After reading many job descriptions, I realized that no matter what job I had, I would never feel satisfied.
This year, I plan to practice more gratitude. When I can stop and feel grateful for the lifestyle I have: a short commute, a flexible schedule, and cash flow to support my hobbies — I really can’t complain.
In the first podcast I mentioned in #Goals: Podcasts to keep you motivated in 2020, Michael W. talks about job satisfaction and how it correlates with more spending. If you aren’t satisfied at work, or in life, you end up spending more money in an attempt to fill in that void.
...YUP. I WAS DOING A LOT OF THAT.
Right around Thanksgiving while I was going for my morning walk I decided I had to reframe my mindset around my dissatisfaction at work and practice more gratitude. That morning I had a late start to my routine and was feeling grateful that no one in my office would bat an eye if I showed up later.
And so... here we go bringing it all together now... ;)
My daily gratitude practice is in the form of journaling and meditation. I use the Calm app to guide me through my meditation process.
In yesterday’s meditation called, “Magnifying Abundance”, John Armstrong (the guy in my headphones) said:
Practicing gratitude infuses you into the moment giving you a sense of satisfaction.
I wholeheartedly agree!
This year, let’s all aim to practice more gratitude. Let’s find satisfaction in the things we already own and the experiences we have, and in turn, maybe we can stop looking for satisfaction in materialistic things. We only have this moment and everything in this moment is perfect! Why waste it?
For gratitude journal inspiration be sure to check out my post: A Week in my Wellness Planner
Check out the rest of my #Goal setting series:
Thanks for reading 🙂