I can already think of the ways I want to celebrate the arrival of summer: new sandals, cute sunglasses, lots of new dresses in splashy colors and of course, a well-deserved vacation somewhere exotic! But before you go crazy shopping all of the summer sales at your favorite stores, make sure to create a plan so that you don’t burn through all your cash. Here are some tips to keep your budget as cool as a cucumber in the hot summer sun.
1. Set financial goals.
Start by figuring out what’s most important to you. Is it the act of shopping itself? Are summer sales a yearly event you experience with your friends? Or are you feeling burned out and tempted to splurge and treat yourself, perhaps somewhere far, far away?
You can have all those things, as long as you have a realistic financial plan. Take some time to review your budget. Look at what you’ve spent so far this year and what you have leftover. Perhaps what you truly want out of the summer is a sense of enjoyment and freedom — something that could come from spending time in nature or having drinks near the water with friends. If your priority is to have an experience, think of ways to have that by going on a boat adventure or laying out to see the stars at night.
If you do have money set aside for shopping summer sales, great! Know your amount, and stick to it. Deciding what’s important to you and what you can afford ensures that you will have a guilt-free summer.
2. Pick days or blocks of time when you won’t shop or spend money.
Making certain days off-limits for shopping helps put a lid on how much you will spend. Get out your calendar and cross out days when you’re not allowed to touch your credit card or your cash. On days you plan to not spend, avoid going to any stores, shopping apps, or tempting store websites. If your friends expect you to go shopping with them, communicate to them your goal and suggest an alternative way to enjoy the day with them.
Hitting the pause button on spending also helps you to reflect on whether you truly want to buy certain items. You may find that those sparkly sandals you wanted so badly last weekend aren’t even on your mind anymore.
3. Cut spending on other things to save for holiday shopping.
If purchasing those US$500 sunglasses is important to you but you don’t have the money in your budget, see if you can shift some priorities around this season. Maybe you can cook more meals with fresh summer ingredients at home instead of going out. How about a cooking gathering at home with your friends at your place this weekend and go to someone else’s place next time?
Instead of spending on the gym or pricey fitness classes, see if you can get in free exercise like walking, swimming and yoga in the park.
4. Use caution with credit cards.
Strive to limit your credit card use to only those items that you’ll be able to pay off in full at the end of the month. It’s O.K. to take on debt for major life events that will add value to your life, like education or a home that you can sell for a profit, but not for consumer goods.
Even if you can easily afford your monthly credit card statement, you may still want to set a cap on spending. One way to put curb your credit card use is to set up an arbitrary limit with your card issuer. If you charge anything above that point, the credit card company will simply not approve the purchases. It’s one way to ensure your spending stays in line with your financial plan.
5. Be a smarter buyer.
Where you shop can be just as important as how much you spend. Consider re-directing some of your shopping energy to factory outlet stores that carry brands you like at marked-down prices.
If you have a weakness for shopping online with a glass of wine at home, give your credit card to your partner and make it off-limits for a while. If you have your credit card information saved on websites, clear your browser cache and cookies to reset it.
Or if you find yourself spending too much at stores in-person, pick days to leave your credit cards at home. Sometimes rethinking the places you shop can make you a more mindful buyer.
Be smart, weigh the price and the value of what you are buying, and ask yourself “Is it really worth the price?” Remember, price is what you are paying for the goods or services you are getting, and value is what the goods or services pay you.
About Heels & Yield
Heels & Yield empowers women to manage their finances and to nourish their health and their wealth through its proprietary holistic wealth management practices. To help clients achieve holistic wealth with guidance and accountability, Heels & Yield offers services including group workshops and private wealth mentoring that combines financial education with personal financial coaching.
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