Okay, savvy savers, this month, we’re featuring a Q&A from our very own CEO and President Kim Sponem! This month, Kim is talking about budgeting, providing her expertise and general know-how after leading Summit for nearly 20 years.
Keep reading to get some lessons from our leader to help you move forward on your path to owning it!
I’ve been trying to stick to a budget, but it is really hard. There are so many deals. Any ideas?
It can be really hard to stick to a budget, especially given the way we are all marketed to. It is easy to fall into a retailer’s claim: “You saved $95.36 today!” While that might make you feel good when you see it in print or when the associate says it, it really is just a way to get your mind off what you did spend. Rather than leaving you with the thought that you just charged $305.99 on your credit card to save that $95.36, you think, “Wow, I really got a good deal. I’m a smart shopper.”
You may be a smart shopper, indeed, but only if those items on your list were items you really needed and planned on buying. Also, be aware that the cash rewards to use on your next purchase are another invitation to spend more than you planned.
Over the holidays, one of the approaches that got me was relentless emails from stores I had shopped at previously with even more deals and discounts. I counted, and one online retailer sent me 40 emails in about 25 days. I’d get one first thing in the morning and then sometimes another one in the afternoon. I fell for this approach as it did get me to buy additional items for myself that I had no intention of buying. Finally, I realized I was falling for the trap, and I blocked future emails and sent them directly to junk mail.
Retail marketers are good; they will follow you around to other websites you visit. After you search for a particular item on one website, an ad for that same item will pop up on a different website. This is not coincidence. They want you to purchase that item right now.
So, what can you do?
Remind yourself that you did not save $95.36. You spent $305.99 that you will need to pay with your next month’s credit card bill.
If you get cash rewards to redeem, go to the store with a list of items you can get within the amount of the reward. Do not allow yourself to purchase anything during that visit where your total amount exceeds $5 of the cash reward. Do not browse. Go right to the item you want, use your reward dollars and leave.
After you order online, block the next email with the next offer they send you and send it to junk mail, so you are not lured in like I was.
Set up your own “retail purchases per month” budget right now. Open an account that is labeled for this purpose. For example, you put $100 per month into a “clothing/household goods” account. Let it build up for a couple of months before you purchase anything. When you charge something in this category, transfer the money spent from your “clothing/household goods” account to your credit card. If you deplete your account, do not buy anything more until you have more in that account.
These are a few ways to stay in that budget even with “deals” coming at you from all directions. Also, remind yourself now and then that you can’t spend your way to wealth.
Keep coming back to the Money Smarts blog for Kim’s Q&A and don’t forget you can ask Kim any questions around managing your money by sending your questions to moneysmarts@SummitCreditUnion.com.