The Financial Diet: Personal Finance

The Budget Fashionista’s Annual “Being Broke Ain’t Cute” Series features tips and advice to help you improve your personal financial health. For more personal finance information, please visit our Financial Health Series.

Dedicating yourself to getting your finances in order can be a lot like going on a strict diet—they can both be really hard to do, they’re both for your own good, and with both if you don’t allow yourself occasional indulgences you’re probably going to freak out and wind up splurging on something huge that will throw you way off course.

We all know how hard it is to ignore the temptation to indulge in an occasional shopping trip, but when you’re in the process of already depriving yourself then you have to be careful to not allow things to get to the point to where you resent the whole process. Try these tips to stay on task:

1.  Don’t discount the psychological power of small indulgences. You may be surprised how great it will feel to spend a little money after you have been working so diligently to save money, and it will give you a nice morale booster.

2.  Pre-plan some small shopping indulgences based on achieving goals. Maybe every time you knock another thousand dollars off your debt you can give yourself $50 to spend on whatever you like—maybe that cute metallic hobo you’ve had your eye on—or you can put aside just a small portion of every savings account deposit toward a shopping expedition when your account reaches the amount you want.

3.  Don’t base rewards on monetary value.  You should try to convince yourself that a $20 handbag on clearance is just as sweet a reward as a $300 dress.  It doesn’t matter how much the item cost you, because it’s a reward nonetheless. But, being budget fashionistas, you knew that already.

4.  Don’t quit because of a slip-up. If you go on a shopping binge and undo everything you’ve been working toward for the past few months, don’t take this as an omen that you can’t accomplish your financial goals. Chalk it up to experience and start anew.

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  1. CaitlinV says

    A couple of things I have found helpful:
    1) Keep the tags on things for a few days. A lot of times purchases are less appealing in the light of the next day.
    2) Avoid the mall – shop at thrift stores or eBay instead. The thrill of the search is greater, it takes longer to spend your money and you can get some great bargains.
    3) If you want to keep your money semi-liquid, at least put it in a CD or money market account. Just leaving it in a savings account will make it more tempting to spend (plus it will never beat inflation).

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