Most of us know the feeling - we make a purchase we regret and it sends our spending in a tailspin for a week, month, or even years. Next thing we know, we don’t want to look at our credit card statements, our account balances are decreasing, and our stress is on the rise. How do we stop the bleeding?
One of the most effective ways to get our spending back on track is with a regroup. We need to give ourselves a chance to get our money mindset back where we want it.
But before we can reset our spending, we need to forgive ourselves for what happened. It’s almost impossible to move forward when we are punishing ourselves for the past. It’s important to remember that we can grow and improve our financial lives while still experiencing bumps in the road. After you forgive yourself, try one (or all) of these ways to reset your spending.
Do a quick Money Cleanse. For a day or a week, let go of all frivolous spending (as defined by you). This helps us differentiate between needs and wants while also serving as a reminder that we can let go of so many expenses and still enjoy ourselves.
Keep a money journal to reconnect with where your money is going. Write down everything you spend (no matter how small) in a notebook or in notes on your phone. Before we can make any major changes in our financial lives, we need to know what’s happening with our money. When we know exactly where our money is going, we can evaluate and make conscious and intentional decisions about where it can best serve us. And while you might initially be hesitant to face the numbers, just knowing where you stand can take a tremendous weight off your shoulders.
Spend only in cash for one week. Spending has become so automatic that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it. It’s become uncommon to see money exchange hands during most of our transactions. We hop in and out of Lyft’s and the payment happens in the app. We swipe our credit cards for dinner and drinks, and our info is saved to our Amazon accounts to make those online purchases really fast. These transactions have become so mindless, making it more difficult than ever to know where our money is going. Reset your spending by committing to using all cash for a week (or more). Aside from bills and automatic transfers to savings, commit to spending only in cash. Leave those credit cards at home and leave with only the amount of cash you’re willing to spend that day. You’ll resist temptation and also find that you think twice before spending.
Implement the 48-Hour Rule. We’ve all done it: we’ve purchased something on a whim only to later regret it. To prevent buyer’s remorse, implement the 48-hour rule. You decide the dollar limit for when this rule kicks in. For example, you might choose to use the 48-hour rule for any expense over $100, $50, even $25. Once you leave the store (or leave the item in your Amazon cart) you may find it’s not worth the trip back to get the item you wanted, and if it is, you most likely won’t regret the purchase. It takes the impulse out of spending and helps you be more intentional about where your money is going.
Plan a spending fast (and plan to socialize accordingly). Plan ahead for a day of no spending. This stops the cycle of spending and feeling guilty while also serving as a reset. There’s something extraordinary about a day where you don’t have to swipe your credit card or hand over any cash.