Secret Spender: Five Tips to Help You Avoid Overspending

By Erin Lozano

WomenShoppingI went to a MaryKay party for clothes. A girlfriend was hosting a designer line that women sell from their living rooms. We sipped wine, tried on pieces and when it came time to fill out the order form for purchase, our hostess elicited the biggest laugh of the night. She said, “Now if you don’t want your husband to know you’re buying clothes, you can write a check to me personally and pick up your items here when they arrive.”

Many women are familiar with the allure of secret spending from their significant others. Most women I ask say they don’t like feeling controlled, and that men don’t understand or support what women like to spend, so they spend under the radar.

But what about secret spending from yourself? You may set a shopping budget at the beginning of every month, but sometime within the next 30 days you’ve convinced yourself that a few purchases here and there don’t count and won’t hurt your personal finances overall. However, once you get the credit card statement in the mail you may feel more guilty that you were unable to keep away from the mall.

Tip 1: Do not spend over your budget. If you do, go back to the drawing board. Re-draw the budget in a way that will work for you, and reconsider where you can cut, and where you can add. Consider each of your priorities and get an understanding of which matter more to you.

Tip 2: Try out some fun activities other than shopping. Instead of spending an afternoon with a friend grabbing lunch and perusing the department stores, visit a museum, start a book club, or bring a picnic lunch to the park. You’ll get much more enjoyment out of the alternative activity than a new pair of jeans, and your wallet will thank you for it.

Tip 3: Skip the sales. Just because it’s a bargain doesn’t mean it won’t create a dent in your personal budget.

Tip 4: Think about it. Before you convince yourself to add a new pair of shoes to your overflowing closet, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Walk away from the store for 24 hours. Chances are you’ll forget about the shoes by the next day.

Tip 5: Set a goal for a bigger-ticket item. Anytime you’re faced with a shopping dilemma, ask yourself if you’d rather save the cash for a vacation or larger purchase.

The key is to hold yourself accountable to your agreements. Sticking to the budget will give you freedom — to know the expenses will be paid, and to feel free from self-scrutiny.

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