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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shopping Notebook

Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? It works like this: before making a purchase, especially an impulse buy, wait for 30 days. If you still want the item every bit as much as you did before, go ahead and buy it. But if you are not as excited about it or reality has set in that you can’t afford it, the urgency has probably died down, and you’ve just saved yourself some cash.

Part of being a savvy shopper is carefully choosing on what you’re willing to spend your hard-earned money. After all, if you’re continually buying things that you don’t need simply because they are on sale, you’re wasting your money, even if the items were purchased for 75% off. A savvy shopper, on the other hand, gets a fantastic deal on something that he or she truly wanted or needed to buy.

A spending book
So how does one become a savvy shopper? In Living the Savvy Life: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Smart Spending and Rich Living, authors Melissa Tosetti and Kevin Gibbons suggest creating a spending book. This can be as simple as a small notebook carried in your pocket or bag. Alternatively, you could keep a spending book on your mobile device.

Anytime there’s something you want to buy that’s outside of regular expenses, list it in your spending notebook. This could be clothing you need in your work wardrobe, new planters for your garden, an e-book reader for your long commute, etc. Before you go shopping, take a look at your spending book to remind yourself of the items on your “want” list. This will help you to focus your spending on items you truly want. For example, if you are walking into a department store and on your list you see that you need a new pair of black slacks, you’re less likely to blow your discretionary money on yet another pair of sunglasses. When you add an item to your list, it shows that you have a real interest in it. If that interest should fade, you can always cross it off your list.

Another big benefit to the spending book is that you can keep an eye out for sales and coupons for items on your list. Go through store’s weekly sales ads and look for other specials to save more money. Patience and diligence can save you some serious cash.

Tosetti and Gibbons encourage you to be open to serendipity, though. “If you walk into a store and absolutely fall in love with an item that is not on your list and you know what his true love, be willing to purchase it as long as it is within your spending budget at that time,” they write. “If not, add it to your spending book and start saving for it.”

Stores spend a lot of money on displays and marketing campaigns that nudge you to make impulse purchases, but reminding yourself of what you truly want is a good way to stay focused. What would be the best way for you to keep a spending book? What items would top your list?

Posted by April Dykman

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