Confessions of an online shopper
This year I bought ten games as gifts for my nieces. After unwrapping the third game, the sparkle dulled in their eyes. They could guess what the next present would be: a game. Yawn.
I couldn’t help myself. It seemed like such a good idea when I was Christmas shopping online. I didn’t realize that I was overspending. It’s easy to get carried away.
I suspect that stores consult with casinos on how to manipulate the human mind. They probably study the best way to extend your online shopping time. They know the tricks that will keep you adding to your “cart.” I must have looked like the senior citizen at the casino, with a free cocktail in her left hand, and her right hand on the slot machine lever -- hypnotized by the pretty colors and dancing elves on the screen. I kept pulling the lever, adding more toys to my online basket.
It wasn’t just Christmas shopping that is weighing on my conscience. It’s the jacket on eBay that I really didn’t need, the plane tickets I booked, and all the automatic debits that drain my checking account. It makes me feel like I don’t have a tight grip on my spending. It’s uncomfortable feeling like your finances are out of control. It may even invoke a sense of panic.
That’s no good.
Whether you shopped online, or in the store, you may be feeling like I do at this time of year: it’s time to zip up my spending habits.
A Worthy New Year’s Resolution:
This new year is a blank slate. 2019 can be the year of major financial change for you. Or not. It’s up to you.
If you’re ready to grab back the reins and get in control of your finances, try making a New Year’s Resolution to save money. Here are five tips for your money-saving goals:
- Make your savings goal specific
Don’t leave it vague. Attach a deadline. Clarify the monetary amount. That way, you can celebrate when you accomplish your goal. If your money-saving goal is not specific, you will not know if and when you achieve it.
A vague goal: I’m going to improve my credit score.
A specific goal: I’m going to raise my credit score by 100 points in 2019.
A vague goal: I’m going to save more money this year
A specific goal: I’m going to set aside $100 each month in 2019 into my savings account.
- Plan how you will make it happen
The reason why many people quickly abandon their New Year’s Resolution is that they do not have a road map. Your goal may be lofty, or simple. However, if you are not clear on how you will obtain your goal, it is not likely to happen. Why? Because we are creatures of habit. You will need to train yourself to form a new habit one.
You must develop a plan for how you will accomplish your money-saving goal.
Example: I will start packing my own lunch and bringing it to work. This should save me an average of $7/day. This should free up about $150/month.
The savings that you carved out by bringing a homemade lunch to work can be the source of funds that you put towards your savings goal in tip #1.
- Track your progress
It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see immediate results. But, goals take time to accomplish. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Print off a calendar like this one, hang it up, and mark your progress each day. I hang mine in my bathroom, and highlight or circle ✎ each day that I follow my “road map plan.” It is satisfying to see all the days highlighted in yellow. It feels like momentum builds, and it gives me the inspiration to keep up the hard work.
- Set up automatic deduction to a savings account
We meet an obstacle when it comes to where to collect the savings you start to accumulate. If you leave co-mingled with your primary checking account, it’s highly unlikely that the savings funds will remain intact. It’s too easy to use the extra cash in the account. You may see the extra $500 cushion in your account, temporarily forget you intended to earmark it for savings, and then blow it within one weekend.
Instead, siphon it off into a separate “savings” account. Set it on an monthly automatic transfer for your specified amount. The account doesn’t need to be classified as a “savings” account. It can be a checking account, or a cash management account. It simply needs to be an account separate from your primary checking account.
If your bank doesn’t make it easy for you to set up an additional savings or checking account for you to do this, consider one of these online banking options: Fidelity and Capital One both offer great alternatives. They boast no-fees, no-minimums, free ATM usage (any ATM), billpay, check writing, you name it.
- Set up separate accounts for separate savings goals
These guys make online banking SO EASY, you can set up separate accounts for your separate savings goals. Fidelity and Capital One both allow you to set up multiple accounts. You can easily automate transfers to go from one account to another.
Why bother with separate accounts? It makes it easier to work towards your financial goals.
England Fund - savings account #1
For example, one of my goals is to save up for a trip to England to visit friends in 2019. My England Fund will have a monetary goal of $3000. I need to set an automatic transfer of $250/month from my primary checking account to my England Fund in order to meet my savings goal.
Golden Birthday Fund - savings account #2
Another goal of mine is to save for my son’s golden birthday trip to Washington DC. This Golden Birthday Fund has a goal of $2500. I will set up a separate bank account to save for the Golden Birthday Fund. I need to create an automatic transfer of $208/month in order to meet my savings goal.
Create money-savings New Year’s Resolutions, and stick to it. At the end of 2019, you will look back and be beaming with pride for the money-savvy skills you developed.
Check out my news appearance on KDLT where I share these money-saving tips for your New Year’s Resolutions.