Budgeting Tip: The Wish List
I will be the first to admit I’m not the best at sticking to a budget. I tend to be all-or-nothing and spiral into the land of “I’m never going to get there” whenever I go over my spending limit for the month, and then it becomes a free-for-all of over-spending. I recently came across an article on the 8 most harmful attitudes towards money, and I’m ashamed to say I can relate to a lot of them:
- Everyone else has it. I deserve it, too.
- There’s no point of saving money when I can only put away a tiny bit.
- When I don’t have enough money in my checking account to cover a purchase, I swipe a credit card.
- Budgets are so restrictive!
- My financial situation is sure to improve soon, so it’s OK to borrow or charge more than I can afford to repay.
- I’ve already spent more than I budgeted for this month, so it’s no big deal if I spend another few hundred dollars.
- I saved $10 at the grocery today so I deserve this takeout dinner.
- Why would I put away money for a rainy day when I can enjoy it now?
BUT, I’ve learned one little trick that’s been helping me a lot lately, so I thought I’d share.
I started making a short wish list of things I really, really want on my phone. Things that tend to be in the $200+ range and I NEVER seem to have extra cash for.
Here are some examples of previous and current wish list items:
- Replace falling-down fence in backyard (Knocked this off in February)
- Shelf for coffee station & Nespresso (Just crossed those off my list!!)
- New armchair for living room
- Get kitchen cabinets professionally painted
- A nice, REAL vacation to a nice, REAL beach somewhere
- Eventually, a new truck for my hubby
Then, whenever I find myself in say, TARGET, with a cart full of impulse buys, I look at that list and ask myself:
1. Do I really want these things in my cart/hand MORE than the things on this list?
2. Am I really willing to sacrifice the dream of getting my wish list items for whatever small, unnecessary object I just HAVE to have at the moment?
It really does a number on my perspective.
Yes, I have the ultimate goal of paying down all our debt, but sometimes that dream can seem so abstract. And the tangible LOSS of the wish list items really helps me evaluate what I am choosing to spend money on.
Also, since I have the impulse-control of a toddler in a toy store at places like Target and TJ Maxx, I’m pretty sure this same exercise would prove successful with small children as well. Just gonna go out on a limb and say yes to that one.
Thoughts? What do YOU do to keep yourself from over-spending?