1. Figure out your larger goal. Do you have a closet full of impulse buys that you never wear but none of the basics that you need? Do you just want to save money? Or is it a health thing (too much greasy takeout, too little healthy home cooking)? Knowing what your motivation is will help you stick to your resolution. When the next urge to spend strikes, remind yourself, “I want to save for a trip to Venice” or “I don’t want to look like a whale at my reunion.”
2. Prepare and plan. If every time you’re starving when you get home from a workout, you order takeout (“Hey—I deserve it!” Sound familiar?), start planning ahead. Carve out some time on Sunday to set yourself up for the week. That means grocery shopping so you can stock the fridge with plenty of food and maybe even prepping some things ahead of time, so you can throw together a meal in the same amount of time it would take to order.
3. Create barriers. If you tend to scoop up a few unplanned “pretties” on the way home from work each night, here’s an easy solution: Leave your credit cards at home. Do most of your damage online? Give your plastic to your partner, so you’ll have to admit you’re already breaking your resolution when you ask for them behind the glare of your laptop. Here’s another trick if you’re really bad: Freeze your card in a block of ice, so impulse buys aren’t even an option—by the time you wait for it to melt, you may realize you don’t even want whatever initially caught your eye. By giving yourself just a moment to think before purchasing, you’ll have a better shot at breaking the spell.
4. Press pause. If you see something you love and simply must have it, walk way. If it’s really awesome, you’ll still love it in a few days. If you forget about it shortly after you stroll out of the store (or sign out of the site), you’ll know you were acting on habit alone and save yourself some cash.
5. Use visual reinforcement. Want to save for that dream vacay? Tear a gorgeous photo from a travel mag and keep it in your wallet. Then every time you whip out cash or a credit card to buy something unnecessary, you’ll see it and be forced to ask yourself if it’s worth moving farther away from your goal.
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