Coffee With Financial Advice

On a coffee date with a dear friend, we caught up on all the news of the day including his trip to Costco. How’d that go? What was anticipated to be a $40 trip to simply buy one specific item ended with a dent in his pocket of $200. No shocker. With time to spare, we analyzed the age-old question of why. Why is it virtually every time we go to a store like Costco we exceed what we planned to spend? After a long (and critical) chat, we devised a few ways to stick with the plan next time.

Don’t take a cart.

One item means you can walk in and carry it out, unless it’s a heavy item like a refrigerator. Once your arms are full, tell yourself “that’s it, I’m done”. Feel proud to be the only one in line without a cart full of unnecessary items!

Go alone.

This is critical. My friend, unfortunately, went with another friend who acted as his inner voice telling him “buy that Tommy Hilfiger sweater, you need it”. It was a beautiful sweater (he wore it that day) but did he really “need” it or did he simply want it? He admitted that if he was alone he probably would not have given the sweater a second glance. Be prepared to say “no” and walk away.

Go with a Purpose.

What was supposed to be a trip to purchase a specific item ended up being a leisurely afternoon of shopping. A social event. A way to kill time. That is dangerous on the pocketbook.

Bring Cash.

You can only spend what you have in your wallet. Bring that debit or credit card and it's guaranteed you’ll spend more. This will help you stay within your monthly budget; don't have one? See our blog "Why a Budget is Necessary".

You don’t miss what you don’t have.

My friend is a long distance walker/runner. Now that the season is changing, we all know it’s getting darker earlier in the evening. My friend has managed this issue for years. However, see a little light that only cost $20 and all of a sudden his mind races to “I could use that for evening walks. How did I ever manage without it”. Sure it’s only $20 but it’s all those little $20 items that add up over time.

Keeping up with the Jones’s.

Finally, he tells me that his shopping colleague spied some dry fit undergarments that would keep her warm during their evening walks. What a great idea! Here’s the logic: she’s getting it and I walk with her so I’m getting it too. At this point, I have to stop my friend and give him the look of disbelief. I tell him: “I know you and I bet you have a closet full of fitness clothes”. Sure enough, he admits on his drive home that he thought to himself that “perhaps” he already had a similar, if not the same piece of clothing at home.

I’m not sure if this conversation will stick in my friend’s head the next time he goes to the big discount store, but apparently, when he overspends he thinks of me. Good to know that I’m his inner voice saying “don’t do it”. Maybe we all need someone like that to shake us back to reality.

Perhaps your needless spending has dug you into a hole that's difficult to get out of. Do you need guidance on solutions to stop the spiral and stop the creditor calls? Help us help you get started.