What went before this:
Okay, so I’ve talked about saving money by choosing a good bank account. It might seem like it’s only a few dollars a month, but the point of that was to just think about how the money is going out the window. Keeping an eye on things and making conscious decisions about spending is what will make the difference. Today’s tip is one I swear by and could be the biggest life-changing mindshift.
Spread big payments over time
I go to Trinidad every two years for at least two weeks. I don’t know if you know this, but Vancouver and Trinidad are not exactly a hop and a skip away from each other. The tickets aren’t cheap and going out all the time when we’re down there isn’t cheap either. For the first few times, I bought the tickets early and saved money that way, but when I was there, I used my credit card for spending money. The problem with that is – and I’m sure you know – when you come back home, you have a huge bill that immediately kills your vacation buzz. What I started doing was thinking about how much money I would need for spending money; I used a generous estimate. I then divided that amount over the number of pay cheques until our trip. That way, I was going on my trip with all my spending ‘already paid for’. The first time I tried it, I even had leftover money. It was such a GREAT feeling not having any issues when I got back. There’s no guilt, no anxiety – just the memories. Even if I did need to use my credit card on my trip – think hair supplies or a steal of a deal thing – it’s only on splurge items that won’t break the bank rather than every meal for a two weeks. Also, because the money was pre-saved, it didn’t actually impact on my bank account while I was away. All around, it works!
I employ this strategy, not only for our trips, but for buying a lot of stuff actually. For example, getting my hair braided last weekend. I had saved what I thought it might be and when the time came, I spent my money with no reservations. I felt rich – not worrying about the price. I just plunked my money down, which included a generous tip, without batting an eyelash and sashayed out of the hair salon! Yeah, that’s how I do!
The trick to this is patience. Knowing what you want ahead of time and WAITING until you’ve saved for it. It makes all the difference. Let me bend your mind. What is the difference between saving first on your own equal payment plan and THEN buying what you want rather than walking into a store and taking something home today and paying interest to the store for months and months AFTER. Think of my way as an interest-free payment plan. Makes sense, right? The only trick is that there is no instant gratification. What I’ve found is that when there is instant gratification on taking home something big on credit, it doesn’t always last. When you have to make your first payment after the fact or when you get your first credit card statement, it feels like, “Oh.” This is especially true if it’s something that takes a chunk out of your monthly budget.
I’m not going to lie to you: it takes discipline. What I’ve also figured out is that, if I have the money put aside, who knows, it might come in useful for something else along the way. Not relying on credit is a big thing, but I’m my own creditor: the Bank of Me. In a perfect world, that money would be sitting in your (hopefully free) bank account slowly gaining interest while you save all that you need. It’s worked for me on many, many things. It might work for you too.
This one is a big one, but it’s the one that’s made the biggest impact on my financial comfort.