Single Occupancy: Saving for Your Rainy Day Travels
By Melanie Nayer
Let’s talk credit card debt. You’re no stranger to the cards, but women with a high threshold for spending seem to forget interest rates and minimum balances, especially when there’s a sale in the shoe department. What are some spending tips you can offer women who feel the ‘want’ but don’t understand the ‘need’?
Sure, we all love sales, but it’s not really “on sale” if you put it on your credit card and don’t pay that card off! Here’s why: interest is super-expensive! Let’s say you buy a $1,000 worth of shoes/clothes/whatever-was-on-sale on your credit card, and never buy another thing with this card. Your card has an 18% interest rate and you just pay the minimum each month (2.5% of your balance). This interest rate and minimum payment are pretty standard for credit cards.
How much will this “on-sale” shopping excursion cost you? Drumroll, please . . . a whopping $2,115.41—more than double the sticker price of those “sale” goodies. You’ll have paid more in interest than the actual cost of these items! And it will take you more than twelve years to pay it off (and by that time, I’m sure you will have gotten tons of new stuff!).
Once you realize how much that interest is costing you, it’s time to learn how to stop spending money on your credit card unless you can pay it all back! Here are some simple tips – in addition to the ones above – to help you spend less:
Tip #1: Swapping: It’s the new shopping!
Don’t go shopping for the goods/services you need – swap for them! Swapping is basically trading your stuff for someone else’s stuff – so you don’t have to shell out cash for new things. There are a ton of great sites online to help you swap including SwapTree.com and Uexchange.com, which let you swap almost anything. RehashClothes.com is great for swapping clothes and the barter section on Craigslist works well for local swaps. Or host your own swap party. Invite friends and family over and have them bring whatever they want to swap. (You can also swap services like dog-walking and babysitting.) If you don’thave enough people for a swap party, visit Meetup.com and see if you can join one in your area.
Tip #2: Try the Post-It note trick
Wrap your credit card in a Post-It note that says “Do I really need this?” This way, when you reach for your card to buy those hot new stilettos, you will be reminded that you really don’t need them. This is your own, personal “mom-in-a-wallet” – always there to tell you what you shouldn’t be doing.
When did you know you were in too deep with the choos/shoes?
When I got my promotion to be the Financial Marketing Manager for Forbes, it was a JOLT of a wake-up call. There I was in credit card debt, no retirement fund, no savings. Everything worth any money in my life I could wear (so yes, my shoes were fabulous, but my finances we so not!) – and that scared me. I thought, oh my gosh, I am going to literally be the old woman living in my shoes.
When should you ‘indulge’?
You have to indulge – at least sometimes – or you will go on a spending bender. Think of it like a stint with Atkins: That diet is simply impossible if you never get to savor a carb again, but if you modified the diet to where you got to indulge in carbs sometimes, you’d be way more likely to stick with it. It’s the same thing with shopping. Indulge occasionally, so you don’t go on a spending spree, but for the most part, stick to your budget. So, how do you know when you can indulge? You look at your budget and see when you’ve saved up enough “slush money” to go on a little shopping stint.
Ok now that women have your tips, how can they get started? What’s the first step?
The first step is to create a set of financial goals – everything you want to achieve that requires money, whether it’s buying a home, getting out of debt, saving for a vacay (Rio, anyone?). To achieve the financial future you want, you will need specific financial goals and strategies for achieving them. Yes, I know that sounds scary—some of you can’t even stick with a guy or girl for more than a few months, and I’m asking you to create long-term financial goals. But it’s not that hard. You just need to know a) what it is that you want, b) when you want it, and c) how much it’ll cost you. And to make it easy for you, I’ve put some easy, downloadable charts on www.ShooJimmyChoo.com (in the Financial Tools section) to help you create those financial goals. Once you make these goals, its just little baby steps each month to make all of them a reality.
So there you have it, ladies. From one over-spender to another, use these tools to help you save and you’ll find you’re more in control of your finances and your spending habits. The first step to better money-management is self-control — while the vacation of your dreams might have to wait a few months, with a certified savings plan you stash away enough money for a mini-break.
Catey’s book, “Shoo, Jimmy Choo!”, is available for sale on her Website and through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble bookstores.