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Advertisers want consumers to associate spending money on their product with pleasure. I ignore the commercials and billboards that try to convince me that I'll be happier, popular or better looking if I open up my wallet and let the dollar bills all fall out.
To combat the pressure to spend money, I have come up with a few tricks so that I associate pain with spending. I don't receive an electric shock when I open my wallet, but I do break the mindless spending pattern.
After practicing my money mind tricks for just one month, I reviewed my spending diary. I had spent $400 less than the month before.
Translating the cost into time
When I purchase something, I think about how many hours or how many days it took to earn the money. In some cases, the mental exercise makes me feel better about my purchase. But most of the time, I refuse to spend one or two weeks worth of work just to pay for a new lighting fixture or appliance that I don't really need.
Paying with cash
Researchers found people spend less money at the grocery store when they use cash instead of a credit card. The shoppers using cash were less likely to buy junk food. Experts say people associate more pain with parting with cash as opposed to plastic. I always make sure I stop at the bank to withdrawal money before heading to the grocery store. After reviewing my cash versus credit card receipts, I noticed I was spending about 25 percent more when I used my credit card.
Thinking about the lost interest
Before dropping $100 on something I don't need, I think about how much money I could earn in interest over time if I invested the money instead. I often return home from the mall and move money from checking to my brokerage account so I have more money to invest. The sooner I'm wealthy, the sooner I can retire.
Picturing faces instead of objects
Advertisers often use an emotional pull to get you to buy. They repeatedly show images of the objects they want you to desire. I do the same thing to get myself to stop overspending. When I'm temped to buy something frivolous, I picture the faces of people in my family who could benefit from having the money. I think about my sons attending graduate school and my husband golfing once retired early.
Product marketers do an excellent job selling me on the idea that I "need" various things to be happy. But when I remind myself of what's really important to me, I realize I don't have the time or money to waste on all that stuff that quickly turns into junk for the neighborhood yard sale.
With an extra $400 a month, I have no excuse not to fully fund my Roth IRA. Anyone can do it if you put your mind to it.