Here’s a riddle for you.
What’s hard to get but easy to lose? A girlfriend in high school. Sorry, too personal. The real answer is money, of course! Here’s a couple of tips I shared on CBS that may help you cut back a bit without even noticing.
1. Don’t budget. I know, I know. All financial advisors say you have to budget, but I’m not one of them. Why? Budgets work, but no one likes them because they are hard to create and even harder to stick to. The solution? PERK instead! As I described in the last chapter, it takes about 15 minutes and can save you $250 to $1,000+ a month. Quick recap. First, list all of your expenses – everything. Then, next to each expense write a “P,” “E,” “R,” or “K.” For those expenses you can “Postpone,” put a “P.” For those expenses you can “Eliminate,” put an “E.” For those expenses you can “Reduce,” put an “R.” For those expenses you must “Keep,” put a “K.” Don’t let the simplicity throw you. It’s easy but incredibly effective.
2. Stop leaking money. We spend money on stuff we don’t need or even realize. Things like cable channels we don’t watch, subscriptions we don’t read, and organizations we don’t care about. Take a close look at where your money is going by using a free online program, such as Mint.com, to track expenses easily. Cancel all expenses you don’t use or don’t need.
3. Create a buying buffer zone. The goal is to create a buying buffer zone of at least 30 days between the moment you want to buy something (usually in the heat of the moment at the store) and when you actually buy it. If you force yourself to wait 30 days, you’ll find that most of the time, you won’t want it anymore. If you still do, it means you really do want it. So instead of whipping out your credit card, whip out your phone. Take a photo of whatever you want to buy and post it on your “buyer board” or Pinterest account. Write the date, the amount, and a short reason why you want it and how it will improve your life. After waiting the 30 days, see if you still can’t live without it.
4. Get real. Fill in the blank: “The three most important things in my life are _______, _______, and _______.” Usually, stuff doesn’t make the list. It’s important to get clear and conscious about what you value. Print this list, or even better, find photos that represent the three things you value (e.g., pictures of your kids), and put these photos in your wallet/purse. To make sure you look at them, put them in front of your credit cards. If you really want to get fancy, create a credit card condom. This is where you make a sleeve for each of your credit cards with a photo of what’s really important to you – this ensures you have to see your values before you spend money (especially on stuff that doesn’t match your values).
5. Volunteer. Get the focus off yourself, what you want, and what new thing you just can’t live without, and onto others who are in real need. This is great therapy, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from Get Money Smart: Simple Lessons to Kickstart Your Financial Confidence & Grow Your Wealth, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.