I’ve been an off-and-on shopaholic over the years, so resisting a tempting purchase often feels like a feat in itself. A big sale at my favorite store? I’d better stock up on anything my size. Coworkers visiting the tasty food truck for lunch? That packed lunch can wait until tomorrow. Picking up a new hobby? Obviously, I need the best supplies and equipment available. And don’t get me started on reward programs—“Just spend 25 more dollars” . . . so I can cash in on a $10 prize? Can’t miss that opportunity!
A couple months ago, I reviewed last year’s expenditures and realized how much money I could have saved had I redirected some of my financial savviness (when I do shop, it normally is a big sale) and developed some discipline in what I buy. These three tips have been crucial in improving my spending and saving habits:
1. Predetermine how each paycheck is allotted
Before each payday, write out where the money will go. Fixed expenses come first, savings second, then consider upcoming expenses for which you need to start saving. For example, a friend is coming to visit me soon, so knowing that I’ll be spending more money than usual on gas and restaurants, I started setting aside a small amount of each paycheck the past two months. The same idea works for things like haircuts, birthday and wedding presents, and plane tickets for the holidays. It’s much easier on your budget to save small amounts over time than be hit with a big expense at once.
Plus, this step has helped me realize how often I spend money at the spur of the moment—it already seems strange (and a wave of irresponsibility hits me) if I make an unforeseen purchase.
2. Use cash to do in-person purchases
Take out cash with each paycheck to pay for anything that doesn’t require a credit card. Groceries, movie tickets, eating out, miscellaneous household items—all should be paid in cash. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. This step gives you freedom in what you choose to do for fun with your money, but also forces you to be disciplined and prioritize what you value most in your purchases. It’s much more difficult to spend $20 cash than charge $20 on a credit card.
3. Open a goal savings account
No matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s always something “big” to plan for: tuition, a car, a home, retirement—it can quickly become overwhelming! That’s why having a goal savings account is key in making those expenses not quite as daunting. Keeping your savings separate from your regular checking account is a simple way to start growing funds for large purchases since the temptation to use the money for other items is removed. Plus, it’s rewarding to see how quickly your fund can grow when it’s left untouched!
The world throws a lot of temptations at Christians—whether they’re financial temptations or something else, the common thread is desiring excess. Financial success, sex, leisure—they can all be good things when following God’s commands, but can spiral out of control when pursued with the wrong intentions. Learn more about overcoming temptations with these helpful books:
- King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex, and Power by Philip Graham Ryken
- Sex and Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies by Paul David Tripp
- Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals by Trevin Wax and Ed Stetzer
I’ve been an off-and-on shopaholic over the years, so resisting a tempting purchase often feels like a feat in itself. A big sale at my favorite store? I’d better stock up on anything my size. Coworkers visiting the tasty food truck for lunch? That packed lunch can wait until tomorrow. Picking up a new hobby? […]