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Learn to curb those impulse buys

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By Theresa Howard

Are you an impulse shopper? Try to never purchase expensive items on impulse. Instead, think over each expensive purchase for at least 24 hours. Acting on this principle will help you have far fewer regrets about impulse purchases. Also, indulgences can put a dent in your finances.

One way to establish a savings discipline is to “save” an amount equal to whatever is spent on nonessential indulgences. Put a matching amount in a cookie jar each time you splurge on an item, such as designer coffee. If you can’t afford to save the matching amount, you can’t afford the $4 super mocha low-fat latte.

If you are often tempted at the store, make a list before you head out shopping. Typically people who shop with a list and stick to it, spend much less money than those who decide what to buy once they get to the store. The annual savings can easily by hundreds of dollars.

Preplanning pays off.

Making your money go farther

At the end of the month, do you wonder, “Where did my money go?” Understanding how and where you spend your money is important for financial success, especially in tough economic times. There are several key steps you can take to stretch your money a little farther each month.

  • Get organized — keep all of your bills and important financial papers in one place.
  • Track your spending for one month by writing down all of your expenses.
  • Identify your total monthly take-home income.
  • Develop a plan, on paper, for how to spend your money each month.
  • For big expenses, such as car insurance, vacations or holidays, you may want to set aside a little each month so that you are prepared when these events occur.

After two to three months, evaluate your spending plan; are you overspending in any certain category? If so, redo your plan to more accurately reflect your spending habits.

Keep working at your spending plan until you find a combination that works with the needs of your family.