With Carmit Brandt
Do you feel your hard earned money just disappears? With online shopping, credit cards, the latest great technology of mobile pay and seamless pay Apps it is easy to lose track of your money. I know, it is convenient. Even if you track your spending electronically, if or when you review it, the money is gone. Merchants just like you, love the ease.
What happens is that you do not think about, see or feel the spending. Plus…you “lose” it.
We are not asking you to abandon technology, but we are here to help you find your money, get control and become aware.
You buy a package of gum for 99 cents. That package of chewing gum has 10 pieces in it. Because you are a kind person you offer your friend a piece of gum every time you take a piece. So you buy one package weekly. For “ease” of pickup, stores have chewing gum at the check-out counter with other impulse buys. But while at the store, of course without a shopping list, you see items that you are sure you might be running low on. So you placed these items in the basket just in case you really are running low. Do you see where this is going? That stick of chewing gum is one tiny item in a sea of many items you might buy. At the end of a year you have spent around $51.00 on chewing gum. How much extra did you spend?
Next time, when you stop quickly to get that one item, think about it. Buy only that item. Besides, for any shopping excursions, make a handwritten or electronic list. Buy only those items. See other items are on sale? Because they are, it does not mean you need them. Apply this rule to any other repetitive buying you might do and soon you will find areas of found money.
With ease of technology it is key that we pay attention to the way we handle our money. Organization in our own lives takes on even greater purpose. Being organized does not take a special talent nor does it take having just the right container. We don’t need the aps on our phones and new programs for our computers. If you want to find the real lost treasure using consistence organizing steps will show you the path to found money.
Keep all of your receipts, yes all of them. Do this for at least one month. I hear the moaning, yes even the small seemingly insignificant receipts for buys like that package of chewing gum. Here are three simple steps that won’t require anything except your commitment to yourself.
Step One: Get an envelope, based on your spending make it as big or small as you think you need. Write the Month and Year on the outside.
Step Two: Put all of your receipts in this envelope. Yes All Of Them. If you shopped online or used an electronic device, print a receipt, or handwrite one.
Step Three: You survived, the month is up. Lineup the receipts by stores or purchase type. Anyway you like or just add them up to see your spending total.
What you will see are spending patterns.
Make a cash commitment, a worthwhile challenge. For a month pay for purchases with cash. Cash? Yes. Go to the bank, they still exist, or a money machine and cash money for your spending. Every time you need to buy something pay with cash. Money ran out? Go to the bank, get more spending cash.
By getting, handling and handing the money you will feel your money. It will surprise you how you feel when you do it.
Bonus: Using cash is most powerful. It encompasses all. Handing that $100 to $200 at the grocery store, hairdresser, department store… makes you Think, See and Feel it.
Being a smart consumer in the Internet age is easy. Finding great deals and discounts is a matter of research. Following are extra reminders and “rules” for uncovering more money.
Gift and Cash Cards: Consumers spend in the hundreds of billions on gift cards. About 1% of these cards go unredeemed, that is 1 Billion dollar minimum. People lose the cards or forget about unused portion of the card. Previously, merchants banked on “expiring” gift cards and even charged fees. Recent government regulations provide put a stop on that, to an extent. But you lose money with unused, unredeemed gift card cards.
New rule: Got a Gift card? Go immediately, spend its dollar value – it is a GIFT. Try to spend just over the amount. Don’t overspend, unless you planned it.
Store Credits: What about items we buy and need to return,,,,,,, Oops where is that receipt. So we go to the store and what do we get in return? Most merchants will issue you a store credit. Think about it you can’t blame the merchants, they want you to come in to their stores because they are once again banking on you seeing something else you want to take home. So they give you money you can only spend in their store.
New rule: Try to save receipts for items you may want to return; and two if you return for a store credit, exchange it that day for something else and use it.
Buy One, Get One “deals”, Coupons
Beware of the “buy one get one” or “buy one get % off” offers. Take a moment to understand the “DEAL”. Consider this:
- Many times the “free” item’s pricing is part of the first item’s price.
- Often you do not need the 2nd item, even at the discount.
- “Get two for $5.00” deals. You may be able to buy only the one item at half the price. Example: my supermarket is tricky. When they have 2 items for $5.00 – if you take the one, you will pay only $2.50. They hope you buy two, need it or not.
- Food, lotions, etc., expire. Will the 2nd item go bad before you consume it?
- Discount coupons are great. Use them wisely. Item on your list? Use it. Item on your list, different brand? Check the price after the discount, compare quantities. Is your brand cheaper? Item not on your list, skip it.
New rule: Seeing “Free or Off” proceed with caution. Before you go for these deals, pause, look at the regular prices for the same items around you, and calculate your price. Decide if it is truly a great deal.
Businesses provide us goods and services for profit and the ease of giving our money exists for that reason. Your money is yours to spend as you wish. Happy Treasure Hunting.