K.I.S.S. Most of us have heard the acronym. I like to translate it as Keep It Super Simple. You know – concepts so simple that they might sound stupid. You might roll your eyes at them, BUT THEY WORK!
In some of our classes, we give tips and tricks to help with controlling spending. While people seem to think controlling spending is rocket science, it’s not. Most people just need to do it, and there are a few simple tricks to help. Like many of our clients, you may wonder if they really work. They do.
Freeze Your Credit – More than one person has admitted to me they have used this. You have that credit card for building credit history and for emergencies, but you know you are going to be tempted. Well, put it in a container of water and put it in the freezer. Don’t worry; there is nothing mechanical in the card that you are going to hurt.
There are two benefits to this simple trick. First, if someone breaks into your home, who’s going to think to grab the block of ice in your freezer? Second, if you are tempted to use the card, you have to sit and wait for it to thaw out before you can use it. That gives you time to think about it and decide if this really is that good of an idea. It gives you a stop and think moment. For at least one of my clients, it was time enough for her to put it right back into the freezer.
Accountability Buddy – They don’t have to know your budget or even what you are trying to accomplish other than sticking to a budget. You just have to know that they WILL be asking you how the budget is going. Just knowing someone is going to ask is often enough motivation to keep us in line.
Three people in one of the classes realized how much they were spending going out to lunch each day. So, each morning they would find each other and ask, “Did you bring your lunch today?” They held each other accountable and had someone to eat lunch with. By the end of the year, they calculated they had saved hundreds of dollars between them just by asking “Did you bring a lunch today?”.
Pre-Paid Budgeting – One of our staff here really likes her Starbucks. But at $5 per cup, it can quickly eat through a budget. So, her solution was to get a Starbucks gift card. At the beginning of the month, she would go to a Starbucks store and put her monthly budget amount on the gift card. For the rest of the month, she only used the gift card to pay for coffee. It’s the 20th of the month and the card is empty? No more coffee until she refilled the card on the first.
How Many Hours?!? – This one will take a little math. First, figure out how much you make per hour at your job. Make sure you figure the NET income, or how much you actually take home after taxes and other deductions. Keep that number in your head and every time you are tempted to spend, calculate how many hours you have to work to pay for that little splurge.
One of our clients was making $14 per hour gross, meaning after taxes they actually had $10.50 per hour available to spend. For them, a decent meal out for the family would cost $50, give or take a couple bucks, plus a tip. Looking at the math, that’s 5-6 hours of work to pay for the single meal. Over half a day’s work! How many hours is that Friday night of fun costing you?
Keep the Change – I had a client in who took out his cash allowance for the week. The change went in a cup and then, at the end of the week, any bills that were left in his wallet went into his stash. It may only be a few singles in a week, but he had saved up enough for a good chunk of his down payment on a new house!
If you are still challenged by your spending, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help you get started. Need someone to be accountable to? We can be that too. You can schedule an appointment online at www.LssSD.org or call us at 1-888-258-2227.
Image Credit istockphoto.com
Written by Sylvia Selgestad, Financial Counselor and Educator
LSS Center for Financial Resources
Consumer Credit Counseling Service | Housing Resources | Sharpen Your Financial Focus | Financial Fitness Education
705 East 41st Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls SD 57105-6047
605-330-2700 or 888-258-2227
Strengthening Individuals, Families & Communities