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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Do you regularly use technology or debit/credit to pay your bills or shop? Has this trend caused you to be passive about managing your finances and/or maintaining your budget? While these improvements in technology have improved our payment options, E-Commerce, and our ability to shop around the globe, has it also contributed to this phenomenon of mindless spending? Moody’s Analytics estimated that higher card usage contributed an additional $296 billion to consumption between 2011 and 2015. The Atlanta Fed’s Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC) found that consumers prefer making payments by debit cards, cash, and credit cards. In 2017, consumers made 70 payments per month on average. Debit cards accounted for 31.8 percent of those monthly payments, cash for 27.4 percent, and credit cards for 23.2 percent. Additionally, the SCPC found an increase in the number of purchases made online between 2015 and 2017 is statistically significant. Likewise, mobile payments increased significantly during that same period. Needless to say, now that we are simply clicking the submit button or swiping a card and not simultaneously seeing an equivalent reduction in our cash on hand, we are much less logically connected to the transaction. Now, I would like to submit to you there are other ways we are doing mindless spending as well. Does any of these sound familiar? -Spending with family and friends – Have you ever gone out with friends/family whereby you felt you were being held as a financial hostage because the cost of “paying to play” was out of your budget or not commensurate for your income? In the future, you should share that you’re only committing to proportional spending and you don’t want the bill split 5 ways for 5 people. -Housing – We have a vision of our dream home in our heads. The bank has given a pre-approval letter and the realtor pushes the higher end of your price range. However, industry experts suggest that we limit our housing to 30% of our income because anything higher could potentially make us mortgage poor. Stick to the rule of thumb and avoid being mortgage poor. - Cable – Need I say more? Save your money and share a Netflix or Hulu account with a family member of friend. -Amazon Shopping/Online shopping – Did you know that Amazon sells were over $177 billion in 2017? Use gift cards for online shopping; therefore, you can only spend up to the cash balance that is on the gift card. -Eating Dinner out/Bar hopping – Did you know for every $100 spent, $1 goes to alcohol purchase? Make plans to eat earlier and enjoy the lunch menu or happy hour menu for dinner. Or, have your own happy hour at home. -Impulsive spending – I know it was on sale and it looked cute on someone else, so now you have to have it too. Practice walkaway shopping by waiting 30 days before making the purchase. You just might change your mind and not make the purchase after all. -There’s no such thing as a free check – I know you have that one paycheck where after all of the bills are paid and you have some disposable income that is not spoken for. I challenge you to have a place for all of your money to go because the next paycheck is the check where the bills wipe you out. Create a separate savings account from your household savings account and balance your money out across the month by saving half of each bill due from each pay check. -Needs versus wants - keep a running list of the items you need and only make purchases from that list. -Holiday spending, special occasion spending, birthday parties – establish a budget guideline for each type of event. For Holiday spending, create a budget for each person and stick to it. What about you? Can you think of some other ways we spend money without giving much thought to how it impacts our current and future financial position? I would love to hear about them and how you remedy this type of mindless behavior.

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