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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Swipe, Swipe ... Spending Money is Easy!

Stop by my favorite coffee shop on the way to work: swipe, debit card pays for the purchase painlessly and quickly. Quick run through the store on the way home for one item, end up with seven things in my cart: swipe, debit card pays for the purchase – no signature or counting out cash required. Where does my money go?

Debit cards are wonderful for their convenience, and typically safer than carrying a lot of cash. But, research suggests that we may spend money more easily when we swipe that electronic card!

If you feel like money is slipping through your fingers, perhaps you'd like to try one of these strategies to change how you think (and act) when spending money.

First, consider using cash for expenses you'd like to regain control of. For example, perhaps you'd like to take control of your spending for food eaten away from your home.

  • Estimate how much you want to spend for a week.
  • Put this much cash into an envelope at the beginning of the week.
  • Every time you buy food to eat outside of your home, pay with the cash from the envelope.
  • When you run out of money in the envelope, you're done spending – at least, until the beginning of the next week when you can reload your envelope.

Don't want to carry cash? You can modify this envelope budgeting strategy.

  • Write the amount you want to spend on the envelope.
  • After each purchase, put the receipt in the envelope and subtract from the total allowed.
  • When you reach $0.00, you're done spending for the week.

There are free phone apps, such as "Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA)" where money is taken away from virtual envelopes. This might fit your style if you're more likely to carry a smart phone than an envelope.

Whichever technique works for you, the important feature is to slow down your purchasing and to feel the "loss" when you spend money – right then, not at the end of the month.

What strategies have you used to slow down your spending in one expense category or another?  I'd love to hear what's worked for you!

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