I was watching an episode of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC featuring a couple. They were planning to get engaged but the woman wanted to make sure they could pay cash for her ring. (That’s smart.) She had a goal of saving at least $500.00 on her next extreme shopping trip in order to buy the ring. I instantly wondered how the $500.00 would magically appear in their savings account by adding to her stockpile of laundry detergent, deodorant, flavored water and paper towels. Her beloved bought the ring prior to the shopping trip (despite his girlfriend’s idea) (and on credit) and proposed right there in the grocery store.
Some time ago I was shopping at a store and on the receipt it was written that I had saved $49.50 on my purchases that day. I guess that makes sense in that I didn’t spend the extra $49.50 (I can’t imagine paying that much more for a pair of kids’ sneakers anyways) but I didn’t save $49.50 because $49.50 wasn’t credited to my savings account.
So many people I work with have trouble saving money. I think there are multiple reasons as to why that is – and they’re different for each person – but I think retailers are very clever about convincing us that by shopping in their store we are somehow permitted to spend money there because we’re spending less money (read: “You save money”) than if we shopped elsewhere and so that’s good, right?
Not so fast…if you’re spending you are definitely not saving.
I’ve also noticed how much less enjoyable watching television is. It seems like I get all comfy on the couch with my dog and a bag of something I definitely should not be eating only to sit and watch a few minutes of a program and several minutes of commercials. ALL telling me that my life would be better if only I bought what they’re selling. Cars, soda, eye cream, car insurance etc.
Then I log onto Facebook only to have ads pop up about (purportedly) the best dog food as soon as I post about my dog. What the heck? How is anyone supposed to be strong against this kind of financial kryptonite? Of course I want the best for my dog…she’s worth it…UGH!
I think that in order for any of us to gain some discipline and peace we need to disconnect from most of life’s distractions that only keep us from achieving our goals and devote our time and energy towards achieving our goals.
If one of your goals is to save money (for emergencies, a vacation, a home, college, retirement), then stop spending money on some things and put that money towards your savings. The old adage “Pay yourself first,” really does work; use direct deposit or, if you’re self-employed, make up a payment book that requires you to put an agreed-upon amount into your savings account at the beginning of each month. Maybe a photo of a dream vacation spot or home can be on your payment slips to help you stay focused.