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Stop Overspending With The 30-Day List

Even with a great budget, chances are you’re still overspending. Why? Like millions of other consumers, you’re having a hard time separating real needs and deep desires from your passing wants and impulses.

Marketing culture makes big bucks in this confusion – and it’s a part of why even when you’re trying to cut back, you just can stop overspending. But there is a way to stop overspending for good, if you have the discipline to put it in place.

The secret is known as “The-30 Day List”. It’s a simple piece of paper that can honestly cut thousands of dollars of unnecessary spending out of your life. And it will re-educate you to resist the “must-have” mentality created by marketing departments so you can keep your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

Setting Up Your List

To get started with the 30-Day List, you need a blank piece of paper with you at all times. Keep it in your pocket purse, or car. Don’t get caught without it – this is when impulse buys happen!

The key is that when you see something you want, you don’t reach for your wallet. Reach for your piece of paper. Write down the item, how much it costs, and the date you wanted to buy it. Then put the paper back in your pocket and walk away.

Groceries, gas, and hospital stays are exempt, but everything else needs to go on the list. A new pair of shoes? Put it on the list. Toys for the kids? Put them on the list. Something little for the house or a tool for the garage? On the list. Even if you’re in the store and have the item in your hand … put it down, write it down, and walk away.

Remember to use the list when you’re shopping online, too. Many people who are very disciplined in their offline purchases are out-of-control impulse shoppers online.

Let Your Spending List Ripen

Once the item is on the list, it has to stay there for thirty days without being purchased. This is the time when you and your family can reflect on whether or not it is truly worth it to buy the item. Is it something really needed or just a passing want?

Some people keep their ripening items on a master list posted on the fridge or near the family telephone. This keeps the items front and center in terms of being evaluated. You may be crying over leaving some great discount shirts on the rack, but find that after three days, those shirts aren’t even something you have space for in your life. Cross that off your list and be happy you avoided an impulse buy!

Research Free Alternatives

Along with letting things ripen on the list to separate impulse buys and wants from needs, the 30-Day List is great for giving you time to research free alternatives. Maybe that book you wanted can be borrowed through the library. Maybe a neighbor has the hedge clippers you were looking at and doesn’t mind if you use them.

Another option is to look for giveaway groups or bartering programs. Freecycling groups are all over the country, helping match unwanted items with new homes {//}. Craigslist has a barter section, or you can check for local groups by asking around.

Check back on your deadline

After thirty days, if you still want the item and you know you can’t get it for free after research, you can buy it. However, what most people find is that after thirty days, there’s not much on their list that they actually want to have. What is left is also often on sale in stores, allowing you to save even more on the things you waited to buy.

At the end of the day, you’ll be much happier with your bank balance and your purchases if you use the 30-Day List. It cuts impulsive wants out of the picture, leaving you only with things that you’ve thoughtfully chosen to add to your life. And by getting you to focus more on waiting and alternatives, the 30-Day List helps you – finally! – get your overspending under control.

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