You started the year off with the best of intentions. You had proven strategies to save money. Plans to cut back, trim down and save were made. By now, you should have a tidy bundle of rainy day money. Whether you were saving for a trip, a down payment or just ‘emergency’ funds, by now you are probably looking at your finances and thinking: “Where did I go wrong?” The truth is you sabotaged yourself even if you do not yet realize it. Sit down and take an honest look at your spending over the past few months and you will probably notice some ‘mind tricks’ you played on yourself. In short, you brain has fooled you into wasting money.
As an adult, you probably disagree – after all, you have full control over your mind, or do you? The human mind is a funny thing. No matter how smart we are, sometimes our perception is skewed just enough to muddle our thinking. Never has this been truer than when it comes to affairs of the mind. The mind plays lots of tricks on us, but ten stands out as particularly cunning.
1. The Supersize Mentality: The advent of the concept of ‘supersizing’ may have been little more than a ploy by the fast food industry to get an extra buck out of us, but the phenomenon has grown rampant throughout the entire market. Say you are legitimately in need of a new television. You have settled on a respectable 36 inch flat screen with a good reputation. Upon arriving at the store, cleverly displayed right next to your first pick is a gorgeous 42 inch television. Suddenly you find yourself thinking: “it doesn’t cost that much more. Really, I’d be foolish not to get the bigger television. It’s such a deal.” The truth is, while you were prepared to spend say $300 on a television, supersizing it for an extra $60 seems like a drop in the bucket.
2. Gotta Get It: I don’t know if it is an off shoot of keeping up with the Joneses or not, but today there are tons of things that we simply must have. A bigger television, smaller computer, faster phone…the list goes on and on. Think about the last time you visited a friend or family member who had recently made a new purchase. It probably started right then, that voice in the back of your head “I really should upgrade my computer – and Bobby got such a great deal.” What is really going on here is plain and simple envy. Your best bud gets a new toy and suddenly you need one too – even if you really don’t.
3. It’s All About The Package: You need internet service for your new home, so you do the logical thing and call up the cable company and have chat. 20 minutes later, you have signed up for internet service, a land-line and 137 HD channels – all for $60.00/month (plus taxes and all that other stuff). Only problem is, you don’t have an HD television (yet) and rely solely on your cell phone for chatting. Problem is, the package is such a deal that you just can’t pass it up. Cut out the package spending and instead only pay for services you actually need right now – you can upgrade later!
4. Of Course I Will: Gym memberships, CD clubs and more are a great idea and not a waste of money – if you use them. Unfortunately, our brains seem to have the ability to convince us that we will indeed make it to the gym 6 days a week for an hour, even though our schedule is already so crammed full that we have to remind ourselves to eat. Avoid long term contract commitments – it may cost a little more to do a one month trial, but at least you will be able to decide if you will really use the membership.
5. But I Forgot: Everybody makes mistakes. You buy the wrong size jeans, a scratched cd or a toaster that doesn’t toast. You package it back up, you put it next to the door and then find it next year in the closet under the boots you bought three years ago but never wore because they were too small. Don’t waste money by forgetting to return something or by not completing a rebate form.
6. Bulk Stores – Us ‘real’ shoppers know just how cheap bulk stores can be. 10 gallons of mayo for only $7.00??? It is a steal! Unfortunately, we often end up throwing away lots of the stuff we buy in bulk – it spoils or we get sick of it before we can use it all. Shop bulk stores wisely.
7. It Can Be Fixed: We often believe that by spending a bit of money we can fix a possession and make it work for us. Cars are a prime example, but today computers and electronics rank high as well. Unfortunately, we often end up spending so much money at the repair shop that it actually makes sense to just buy new. Don’t let your mind convince you that you can’t part with an old possession.
8. Reality Doesn’t Apply: Whether it is the influence of the digital age or simple ill placed optimism, we often find ourselves thinking that reality just doesn’t apply to us. Somehow, someway things will work themselves out so putting ourselves in the red for that killer trip to Cancun is ok. After all, it will sort itself out. NOT!!
9. We Are Delusional: How many times have you gone to the store and bought something that you hope makes you look thinner, hotter or younger – even though it does none of those things? The 35 year old housewife shopping at Express for an outfit she will never wear is simply just wasting money in the hope that she will look and feel better about herself.
10. We Are Too Polite: Every time you receive a bill that isn’t quite what you expected, you should put up a fight. Unfortunately, many of us simply don’t. Whether we are afraid to make a scene or just don’t want to rock the boat, we often simply accept that extra $5 on our cell phone bill each month. Don’t forget to stand up for yourself.