The whole world is still trying to recover from a very hard and stressful financial trouble. Many people got affected and are still suffering. The stress, associated with the financial uncertainly many people faced in the past few years, took it's toll on families.
One good, came out of this troublesome recession, was a big lesson learned. This big and important lesson is, the money is valuable.
Yes. The money is valuable. We didn't value money and spent, like there is no tomorrow. Many people i know, including ourselves, got deeply in to debt during one of the fastest growing economies in all time. Because we were so sure that it is only going to go up. What we didn't see was, when the economy came down, the speed was unbelievably fast. We didn't know how valuable our money was.
Here is a sure way, to re-train yourself and your family, to be able to value money. In order to bring your family on the same page, and teach them ( and yourself) to be more organized and more frugal towards money, you need to go on a spending diet.
That is how it works.
One day spending diet.
- Start small.
- Get prepared.
- Take your credit cards and all the money out of your valet or purse.
- Place only 1 debit card + $10 ( or any amount you would normally spend on that day) in your valet for emergencies.
- Make a list of the most important items you need to buy and can not wait another day. For example, milk when you have small babies.
- Prepare you breakfast, coffee, lunch, snack, dinner. anything you need to eat ahead of time.
- Prepare food with what you already have. If you need something, try hard, to get by, through this day without buying it.
- Make sure you have gas in your car, Bus tickets if it is needed. Be ready for your transportation.
- Make sure there are no bills needing to be paid, or any checks needing to be written. If yes, write them or pay them ahead of time.( this is not cheating, it is more like an exercise to teach yourself how not to spend).
- Decide and promise yourself that you will not even spend a penny during this day.
- Just do it. Do not buy that Mint or chewing gum, that coffee, that small cake, that cool looking small item for your kids,( just to make them happy), That nice CD sold in the coffee shop...Just stop buying. At the end of the day, congratulate yourself and place that money in an envelope.
- Write saved on the envelope. Then go to the next step.
At the end of the day, you will see how easy it was to not spend. Congratulations. It is time to take it one step farther.
One week spending diet
- For this you will need to bring the whole family on the same page.
- You are allowed to pay your bills, (Mortgage, rent and utility).
- Make sure you fill your cars with gas or buy public transportation tickets for the next week.
- Make a list and buy, all the food you know you will have to have and will need for the next week, not more. Mostly, bread, Cold cuts, Fresh fruit and vegetables, Milk and eggs.
- Take every credit card and money out of your valet.
- Put only one debit card and a $10 bill( or any spendable amount in a day) in your valet per day.
- Do not spend even a penny more.
- For food, try to use all your cans and the food in refrigerator by becoming creative. Go through your freezer and start using your frozen items instead of buying any food. I bet you have enough in your freezer and pantry for a whole week.
- If you have to give a gift to someone, make a fruit basket for them.
- Put the money in your envelope at the end of each day.
- Congratulations. You can use the saved money to start a Savings account, or pay off some debt.
You can go on and try two weeks diets if you feel comfortable to do it.
One month spending diet
This one is tougher, but funner. This would be the ultimate challenge, yet it will change your habbit of buying. It takes a lot of preparation, but it is the most effective and saves tons of money.
- You can pay your bills, like Mortgage or rent, car payments, Utility ...
- Set a budget for your car gas. Make sure you don't spend more.
- You can do grocery shopping once a week and only with a list. You have to stick to your list.
- Look back at your past months spending habits and see how much you spent in the past.
- Pull or place the same amount of money in your savings account.
- Other than these rules you HAVE to make due with what you already have.
- If you feel like spending, get creative and try to find a way to get by, without spending.
- At the end of the month, you will have all the money that you did not spend, in a savings account or an envelope.
You can, pay off some debt, Put the money in a retirement fund or college fund, keep the money as your saving for emergency fund, do whatever you need to do with it , but shopping. Yes. you are not aloud to spend that money on stuff.
The welcomed side effect of this process is that you, subconsciously, learn and get in to the habit, of spending only when it is necessary. You learn to not spend on stuff.
The best part is, you learn to use a list at all time. When you shop with a list, you only buy what is needed, not what you see and want. This diet will also help to stimulate your creativity to find free ways to get entertained.
Some examples are:
. Going for a walk.
. Going to the beach.
. Board games with friends and family.
. Exchange DVDs with friends for a free movie night with some home made popcorn.
. Paint or draw with family.
. Start a hobby.
Good luck. Make sure you try it. Even if it is the one day spending diet. Trust me. You will like it.