According to a new Associated Press Economy Survey, the frugal living many consumers have been forced to embrace during the recession is one they have no intention of letting go. Based on a survey of leading economists and interviews with “ordinary Americans,” even as the economy improves they have learned their lesson: spend less, save more. What’s unclear is how many of these Americans are “shopaholics” and how they may find a way to embrace a frugal way of life.
If you you cannot control your urge to spend then you are a shopaholic. Beyond joining a support group for people who share this compulsion, you can explore the world of frugal spending through the following five spending tips for shopaholics:
1) Cut up your credit cards. Maxed out or not, either way you’ll benefit from this liberating gesture. Consider it the ribbon cutting ceremony as you enter the foreign territory of thrifty living.
2) Shop with cash; leave your debit card behind. Even if you leave the house with a budget in mind, you know all too well that a “good deal” is around every corner. However, if you leave your debit card at home, it will be impossible for you to go over budget with a set amount of cash in your pocket. (Note: If you don’t have it in you to cut up your credit cards, yes, they need to stay behind too.)
3) Go shopping with people who care. Whether it’s family or friends, shop with people who know you well. Those who genuinely care will keep you in check and talk you down from irrational purchases they know you will only regret later.
4) Make and stick to shopping lists. Never, and I do mean never, should a shopaholic leave the house without a list. And if you forget your list, go back home for it, even if you don’t realize it until you’re in the store, shopping cart in hand. Any guilt you feel wasting time and gas going back for your list will pale in comparison to the guilt of “winging it” and inevitably making compulsive purchases in the process.
5) Keep track of your spending. And I don’t mean just entering the amount of each transaction in your check register. In fact, ideally you should be using cash for every purchase so you’ll need a special record book for that, with assigned categories.
At the end of every day, record all of your transactions, including where and what you bought, assigning categories as you go. At the end of the week, go through all of your purchases and add up what you spent in each category – on food, coffee, gas, clothes, beauty products, entertainment, etc. Then based on each category total, try to come in under that amount for the following week. Consider it a challenge of sorts that should eventually reveal just how little you really do need.