How To Become a Smarter Consumer

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I am very cheap when it comes to certain things and I love getting a good deal. I am a proud member of why spend more when you can pay less club. I do appreciate good quality, so there are things that I am more willing to spend money on than others. I have certain rules I live by, to ensure that I am allocating my money wisely. 


Don't Pay to Use Your Own Money

This is a huge one! I can't believe how many people do this. It seems so simple. I used to get unlimited debit transactions through my bank because I was a student. I never carry cash, so I would put the $1.75 tea I get in the morning on my debit card. I realize that it is silly to buy tea, when you can bring your own and just ask for hot water... but oh well I was a busy student. Nevertheless I got used to putting every little transaction on my debit card. This is a terrible idea since I am only given a certain number of transactions before I am charged per transaction. I finally took note of it and decided to use my credit card for the bulk of my transactions and pay it off twice a month. I do twice a month so I can keep track of my spending. I used my free transaction through my debit card for paying off my bills and I will usually take out a bit of cash to have in the event I can't use my credit card. Credit cards also collect points, so instead of spending money to use my money, I usually can redeem something with my points. It is just a small change, but you will notice the difference at the end of the month. 


Compare Shop

The internet is a portal for endless information. When it comes time to buy a big ticket item, I take the time to read about it online. I also turn to the internet because more often than not there is a better deal to be had. Retailmenot is a website I check religiously. There are coupons for literally everything! If I am going to purchase something I usually search in Retailmenot to see if I can get a better deal.

Invest in the Right Items

I have shopping problems, I will go to a hardware store and leave with at least four or five items that I don't need at all. I understand that the struggle is real. Retail therapy tends to get the best of me. I try to plan my wardrobe at the beginning of every season. I go through my seasonal clothes and decide what I would like to donate or sell, and then I find the holes in my wardrobe.

If something isn't on sale, I usually let myself sleep on it and decide at the end of the week if I still really want it. I also try to convince myself to only buy the things I need. If I want a trendy item, I go to Forever21 or H & M, because I know it will go out of style and I don't want to invest too much money into a fashion piece. Jeans, bags, shoes, jackets, I will wear for years so I spend more money on them.  


Don't Carry a Balance

This is another one that seems like it is common sense but a lot of people do it. I like to track my spending, and if I know I am over spending I will cut back. I will skip going out for a nice dinner or decide not to get my nails done and put that money towards my credit card debt. I only allow myself to have the necessities, until I pay my debt off. 

Carrying a balance just eats up your money. Credit card interest is very high, so if you aren't able to cut back and pay off the balance, a line of credit is a good option. The interest rates are lower and this will allow you to buy some time.  


Don't Do Automatic Withdrawals

I used to have automatic withdrawals on my cell phone bill, until a friend of mine mentioned that her cell phone bill is always wrong. I started checking mine regularly and 50% of the time there is an error with the billing. It does take up more time in my day, but I will set a side the time once a month to look over all my bills and make sure they are correct before paying them. 

These are all just small changes that I have incorporated in my life, but I do notice the difference. Travel is a big part of my life, so I always want to make sure that I can put money away for it. Changing my habits and becoming less of a consumer is the best way for me to achieve this. I want to spend my money on memorable experiences as opposed to material items. I just have to keep reminding myself of this. Making small changes, can add up over time. 

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