When the people in our lives get the latest iPhone, shoes, car, or tech gadget, it can be easy to feel left behind. We live in the age of influencers and viral TikTok trends. So the list of things we need to buy to feel included can be endless. We’ve all fallen down this spiral at one point or another.
Spend less, and put money toward your needs and goals. Here are some strategies and reminders we can all use to focus our financial energy on what matters most.
When grocery shopping, you wouldn’t plan your next week of meals around what you see others putting in their carts. It’s okay to be curious about what others buy, but what you ultimately put in your shopping cart should meet your own needs first. The same is true for shopping outside of the grocery store.
You may see an expensive smartwatch on your coworker’s wrist every day, and start feeling like it’s time to buy one yourself. As we scroll on social media or interact with others, you might not even realize that your spending habits aren’t your own. Challenge yourself to filter out all social pressures when making financial decisions. What works for someone doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be for you.
Not sure if your next non-essential purchase is worth it? Here are some quick questions to ask yourself before clicking the “Checkout” button.
If you’re considering a subscription or monthly service, add how much it will cost over a year and ask yourself these same questions every month. Saying “no” to a $100 monthly subscription means keeping $1,200 in your wallet at the end of the year.
Buying what others have because you envy someone else or their lifestyle can be dangerous for your wallet. Remember that social media influencers get paid to carefully curate brands, attract viewers like you, and promote products under the guise of “favorite” products. Take all of these kinds of recommendations with a grain of salt, and always do your own research before purchasing.
While it’s not as flashy as the latest gadget, a budget that helps keep your money close is the cooler alternative. That budget can include money aside for treating yourself and yes, even impulse purchases! But most importantly, a budget can help you think twice before spending money on something you might later regret.
Tip: Download the free Payactiv app* and link your bank account to get real-time insights into your spending.
The key is to get to know yourself and your spending habits as you build a budget that works for you. Try to stop yourself from looking at others and their spending habits as a reference point. Focus your hard-earned dollars on the purchases and experiences you value most.
Here are common expenses that can be particularly susceptible to social pressures:
TV Subscriptions: Cable, satellite TV, and streaming services can add up over time. Add up the numbers and see where you can cut back in these areas to save thousands of dollars per year. Consider viewing sports or your shows somewhere cheaper.
Cars: New doesn’t always mean best! Car payments on new cars can cost more than $500 per month, and decrease sharply in value when driven off the sales lot. Consider buying an older car with low mileage.
Brand Name Items: Name brand markups are no joke. Consider store brands when buying clothes, electronics, groceries, and medications. Oftentimes generic and name-brand items are the same as name-brand items.
Tip: You can use the Payactiv app to search for discounted prescriptions. Download* for free today! Text and data rates apply.
Cell Phones: New phones come out every year, but do you need the latest model if your old one still works? Rather than replacing your phone every year or two, try keeping a phone for three years or more.
Restaurant Dining and Delivery: Restaurants make meals easy, but they also add a major markup on food costs. Going to the grocery store and having a nice dinner at home can save you hundreds of dollars.
Nights Out: A night on the town can be a lot of fun, but the cost of drinks, cover charges, and late-night pizza stops also add up fast. A night in with dinner and drinks can cost a fraction of what you’ll spend when going out.
Buying New: Not everything must be bought in its original store packaging. Many people use thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and resale apps to buy and sell perfectly good furniture, clothes, and home goods. Remember to keep an eye out for scams and always meet in a public place. You might find discounted treasures just waiting to be scooped up.
You never know what someone’s financial situation is like by appearance alone. Would you still envy their lifestyle if you knew they had thousands of dollars in credit card debt?
Take control of your money by creating a budget you can stick to. Get to know your spending habits in the process to see where you can cut back. Don’t forget to set a financial goal that you can work towards with your newfound savings. The accomplishment you’ll feel will be greater than the fleeting joy of opening an Amazon package, any day.
*Standard message and data rates from your wireless service provider may apply.
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