From one-click online shopping to mobile wallets, paying for goods and services has never been easier. Unfortunately, the conveniences we love can also lead to an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" mentality when it comes to money management. And in this uncertain economy, it’s never been more important to look a little closer at your spending habits. The good news is with a little mindfulness (you know, the same approach you take with your eating and self-care regime), you can stay on-track with your spending and budgeting habits and help prepare yourself for the future.
Make a habit of reviewing all your transactions on a regular basis (weekly, monthly – whatever works best for you). This will allow you to monitor where you’re overspending so you can make adjustments – those takeout orders add up! For some assistance with this task, download the new U.S. Bank Mobile App, which features a Money Mentorship component that analyzes spending habits and helps you better understand where your money is going.
Some online retailers implemented one-click buying to combat shopping-cart abandonment. In doing so, these companies also made impulse buying way too convenient by allowing purchases with the click of a button. Remove the temptation to tap by deactivating one-click purchasing in your account settings. And if you’re prone to phone shopping, delete any offending apps altogether.
Thanks to credit and debit cards – and digital payment platforms like Apple Pay and Google Pay – cash isn’t always king. In fact, a recent U.S. Bank Cash Behavior Study found that 50 percent of survey respondents carry cash less than half the time. Buck the trend and stop at an ATM before your next shopping trip. By withdrawing only what you need, you’ll be less likely to overspend. If you can leave your debit and credit cards at home, that’s even better.
Society looks a little different these days, and so does what we’re choosing to spend our money on. You might have some leftover cash you once set aside for dinners out, concert tickets or other social commitments. Calculate how much you spent per month at restaurants and venues, and add it to your savings account so you’re better prepared for unexpected expenses you may run into.
Chances are, you’ve had major events, like weddings and travel plans, pushed back to 2021 due to limitations on social gatherings. Take a look at your calendar as you build your annual budget—are there any large expenses that you need to plan for? How far in advance do you want to start saving? Bonus: those extra dollars you’re saving by not going to restaurants and concerts can help fund these events.
Mindful spending doesn’t mean depriving yourself of all “fun” purchases – you work hard for that money, after all. Set aside a chunk, after bills and other mandatory expenses, that can be used for whatever you’d like. It may be helpful to open a separate checking account to better compartmentalize guilt-free spending money from your savings.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “sleep on it” before making a big decision. The same advice can be applied to significant purchases. Rather than handing over your credit card in the heat of the moment, step back for a couple days to really think about the purchase. Ask yourself these questions:
In the end, maybe the purchase is still worth it, or perhaps you’ll realize you don’t need it after all.
Whether it’s a spouse, best friend or sibling, identify a person you trust to discuss your financial wellness journey. Simply sharing your goal of practicing mindful spending habits may help keep you on track. It’ll also give you someone to call to dissuade you from unnecessary purchases.
Purchasing that new TV or the latest smartphone may give you an instant dose of gratification, but will it contribute to your happiness in the long run? If the answer is no, that money could probably be spent, or saved, more wisely elsewhere. To curb unnecessary spending, think about what is important to you, such as saving for a house or paying off debt or saving for a trip a few years down the line.
If you need help with your mindful spending practices, our goals coaches are ready to help.