6 Reasons You’re Spending More Than You Should
Americans are buying a lot of stuff in 2017 and the stats support this statement: For example, the average American woman owns 30 outfits, compared to nine in 1930 (Forbes). However, we’re not here to argue for a minimalist lifestyle or for buying less “things;” we’re here to talk about how you can have what you want or need, by spending less in the process.
There are a number of ways everyone can easily save money every single day, but thanks to convenience or factors outside of our knowledge, we deal with it and walk away. These six reasons explain why you may be spending more than you should, along with tips for how to cut down on the amount of money you shell out.
Purchasing Out of Habit
We tend to buy the same items — think shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper — week after week out of habit. You go to the same store (see the next section about this) and pick the same items so you can get in and out quickly. However, your usual items may not always be the least expensive, depending on current sales.
Spend less: Give yourself an extra five minutes to quickly compare prices on the items you need, whether you’re buying toiletries, shoes or home goods. Use apps like ScanLife or PriceJump to find the best prices before even leaving your house so you can still get in and get out.
Purchasing Out of Convenience
Convenience is a significant factor in our lives — and when it comes to spending, it may be causing you to shell out more cash than is necessary. Take grocery shopping for example. There may be a store that sells the same products for 20 percent less, but because this particular supermarket is closer to your home, you go there anyway.
My husband and I actually tested this with Sprouts, our usual grocery store, and Whole Foods. We bought the same exact groceries at both stores on back-to-back weeks and found that we spent $20 less at Sprouts. With that, our decision was made.
Spend less: Take a few weeks to price compare between the various supermarkets, pharmacies and other types of stores you frequent. After price checking for your usual purchases, decide which one provides the best price and make that your go-to option.
The Pink/Blue Tax
This is something I recently learned about, and has informed much of my “essentials” purchasing ever since. Many industries charge more for gender-specific products, or those that they market to a specific gender. For example, a 2016 CouponBox analysis found that deodorant marketed to women cost just $5.64, while similar products marketed to men cost $6.62, on average.
This happens with most toiletries or daily essentials, along with suits, sports clothing and more.
Spend less: Compare the cost of the male versus female product, and consider if paying more is really necessary. In many cases, you can find a “unisex” product or one marketed to the other sex that works just as well. While it doesn’t seem like it matters all that much, that extra dollar or two adds up quickly.
Accepting Costs As-Is
All too often we just accept that there’s a $100 initiation fee at our new gym or that the subscription we think we’ll love costs $50/year, so we just pay it. However, there’s a lot more leeway with situations like this if you just ask. For example, most gyms will waive the initiation fee if you ask them. They’ll never come right out and offer it, unless they’re running a special.
Spend less: Never hesitate to ask about a reduced rate for a membership or subscription. If you still aren’t sure if a new app is worth the cost, and you just finished your 30-day trial, ask for an extension. The worst they’ll say is no. If you sign up at a yoga or fitness studio, ask if they offer discounted rates for auto-debit or paperless billing; many do, but don’t market it. The same goes for many other monthly services like gas and electric.
This is one of my biggest challenges with spending. I like to be spontaneous and I don’t like to miss out on anything fun. So, when friends say, “Let’s do this, let’s just do it!” I have trouble saying no, even if it means spending an extra $100 on a Saturday. Many people suffer from the same mentality, and while in some ways that’s a good mindset to have, leaving yourself open to new and fun opportunities, it can be draining your bank account.
Spend less: Every time a situation like this comes up, ask yourself: “Will I be upset if I look back on this knowing I didn’t attend?” Then truly think one month ahead — if the answer is yes, then maybe it’s worth spending the money. If the answer is no, walk away or think of something less expensive to suggest.
You Don’t Plan Your Shopping
So often we think to ourselves, “I need a new pair of pants, I’m going shopping after work.” Because of this, we end up paying a premium for whatever we can find at that moment. When you plan your spending around a big savings weekend or annual clearance sale, you spend less while getting the high-quality products you love.
Spend less: If you love shopping, mark your calendar with all the sales you know about in the next few months. Most stores plan these at least six months in advance, so if you can’t find information online, call and they may be able to tell you. Then, you can say, “I need new pants. I’ll wait until [Store]’s sale next weekend to find something affordable.”
There are many ways you can spend less every day, you just need to know the right questions to ask or the right places to look. Use these tips to assess your spending and start saving more right away.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a lifestyle blogger. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Shape and more. Follow her on Twitter