So you want to save money. You want to stop going out so much, to stop making impulse purchases, to stop swiping your card for lunch each day. But in the meantime, the life you live is built around these rituals of birthday dinners, after-work drinks, and daily lunches out. How can you keep your behavior in line with your new money-saving values while also navigating your old money-spending life? All it takes is a little self-coaching. We’ve got ten mantras to help you get through lunches, dinners, and shopping trips with your bank account intact.
1. “I already ate.”
Get in the habit of eating before going out to eat with groups of friends so that you can get away with just getting a glass of wine or a cocktail while everyone else feasts on spendy plates. Get your drink from the bar and pay right away, or if there isn’t a bar, excuse yourself to pay at the hostess station before the group gets the check to pay for your drink. With a little sneakiness and little planning, you’ll get out of the expensive dinner and the tab that goes with it.
2. “I don’t have my card.”
Get in the habit of leaving your plastic at home. It makes shopping so much less dangerous, and will keep you from letting an after-work drink turn into after-work drinks, dinner, and nightcaps. It’s a good way to to say “I’m not spending money” without actually having to say “I’m not spending money.” And if your friends offer to cover you and let you pay them back later? You’re so thankful for the offer, but you’ve got to get home and walk the dog/watch a Law & Order marathon/look for your lost ATM card.
3. “It’s the thought that counts.”
We’ve all heard this one, but if you want to spend less money, you’ve really got to own it. A handmade card is just as nice as a fancy and expensive letterpress one; one rose from the garden is just as lovely as a spendy arrangement from the florist. You don’t need to spend money to show your love for your friends; you just need to show up.
4. “If I want it now, I’ll want it tomorrow.”
Avoid impulse purchases by following a strict rule to always put the item on hold for 24 hours. If you want it enough to go back and get it, then you must actually want. Not so convinced that your dream $75 dream dress is so dreamy after a good night’s sleep? You just saved $75.
5. “If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the basket.”
Get in the habit of making shopping lists, and stick to them. Impulse purchases are the death of any budget. Keep yours in check. Don’t know what you want until you see it? Make yours a list of parameters: “a treat under $5″; “fruit for the week for $1/day”; dinner for two for $15″; “wine for $10.”