Making a calculated effort to snip your expenses isn't easy. While there are things you can do to ease the pain of cutting back, tracking spending requires daily budgeting and discipline. Clearly, some days are better than others. Most of you agree that weekends are the hardest time to keep your wallet in your purse, but there are some simple ways you can bank on time of day discounts throughout the week. How can you save by spending on the right days?
Remember Payday Determines What's Offered to You at the Grocery Store:Some things work in mysterious ways, but grocery store promotions are pretty straightforward in their scheduling tactics. Everyone knows most people are paid at the beginning or end of each month, and grocery marketing teams smartly push particular deals at these times. It's called the paycheck cycle, and it assumes that people have more disposable income to spend at the start of the month than they do toward the end - otherwise known as living paycheck to paycheck.
More expensive items are promoted around the first while stores push cheaper products toward the 30th to keeps items moving off shelves and boosts store sales. As a consumer, it's important to look beyond promotions to determine what items offer true value, no matter what time of the month.
Designate a Day For Buying Lunch: Munching a lunch you brought from home is one of the best ways to keep food costs down. Packing a variety of lunch foods will keep you from abandoning your brown-bag system because of boredom, and if this is already getting old, give yourself a break and designate one day a week for buying lunch.
You should only consider adopting this system if you can afford to buy one lunch each week. If so, make it a day like Wednesday when work seems to pass like molasses. My trick? I keep soup in my drawer so that I have an option if I'm not in the mood to splurge on my assigned day. That way, my lunch-out day isn't wasted.
Consider Going Cash Only Over the Weekend: The weekend has a way of threatening my spending plan quite often, probably because it's tough for me to say no to an evening with friends that sounds like fun. Because the weekend tends to throw me off my spending game, I'm trying something new to rein in my bad habits from Friday through Sunday.
While I don't typically operate on a cash-only system, I'm giving it a go for weekends only. By restricting myself to a certain amount of cash, I'll have to make harder choices about what gatherings are worth attending and which can be skipped. Plus, I'll put effort into finding tasty and fun alternatives to the more expensive options.
Challenge Yourself to No-Spend Days: Spending money unnecessarily is habit-forming, and a good way to break the cycle is to challenge yourself to no-spend days. These are days when you never remove cash or cards from your wallet. The simple act of refusing to spend can bring your suppressed saving habits back to life and make you more thoughtful about the times you do spend money.
Most of you admit that shopping makes you feel good after a bad day, but you can also gain satisfaction from successfully living up to a challenge like not spending for one day. You can start slowly by setting a couple of no-spend days per month, or you could throw yourself into the challenge by setting them up a couple times a week. Figure out what works best for you and see what happens when you let your spending itch go unscratched.
Save Your Shopping For the Weekend : Shopping is an anytime sport for many of us, and playing the game during your lunch break seems like an efficient use of time. Not so fast. There are two factors that could cause you to spend more when squeezing in a trip to your favorite store: time and stress.
One hour isn't enough time to thoroughly shop, and it's easy to end up with more goodies than you wanted - the decision to take one of each instead of narrowing down your selection doesn't do your wallet very much good. And releasing the stress from your Monday morning meeting by swiping your credit card isn't a release at all when you realize that you've spent more than you can afford.
You could save shopping for after-work hours, but the same issues still exist. Save your shopping for the weekend when you have time to weigh spending decisions and aren't using shopping as an emotional outlet.
- Learn Your Favorite Store's Sale Cycle: Most retail stores have a set cycle for receiving new inventory and putting the older inventory on sale or clearance. If you ask a salesperson when new styles come in weekly, you can get a pretty good idea of when a large selection will also go on sale. I know my local Nordstrom puts out new inventory and marks sales on Tuesdays.
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