If you haven’t yet, check out the first post in this series here.
I’ve got good news and bad news. First, the good news…
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re already succeeding at Strategy #1 – you deserve a reward! Go get yourself a cookie! (I’ll wait here)
OK, now that you’ve got your cookie and you’re in a good mood… here’s the bad news. I’ll just come right out and say it….
This next money-saving strategy is the most fuddy-duddy, Debbie Downer, wet blanket of the 4 C’s Strategies. To make matters worse, I’m posting it on BLACK FRIDAY! I’m doing this partly because this is the day when this message is most needed and partly because I’m amused by the irony.
So, brace yourself. What I’m about to say sounds cynical and probably not very cool. But I do hope you’ll keep reading because Strategy #2 has helped us save so much money over the years and I think it can help you, too!
The 4 C’s: Strategies for Living on Less
Strategy #2 – Be Cautious
It is the job of the advertising industry to get you to buy things. Not a side job. Not a weekend hobby. It’s their main purpose for existing!
They do their job by suggesting (sometimes hinting and sometimes outright stating) that you shouldn’t be content with what you have. You need more. Newer. Bigger. Different. Better.
We’re surrounded with this message at every turn. It takes intentional effort on our part to stay focused on our own goals, stick to budgets and save instead of spend. This is especially true if your goals (like homeschooling) are ones that shoot you in the foot (financially speaking).
So make it easier on yourself. Minimize temptation!
This might mean doing something as simple as muting commercials. We’ve made it a habit to watch recorded shows almost exclusively (as opposed to live TV) so we can fast forward through commercials. Sooo refreshing!
You know yourself better than anyone else. If impulse buys are a weakness for you, don’t torture yourself by window shopping with your friends! Suggest a less tempting outing for your next ladies’ night. And unsubscribe from all the mailing lists who keep sending you catalogs that remind you of everything you don’t own but wish you did, causing you to spend money you shouldn’t.
This goes for homeschool supplies and curricula, too. I’ve noticed that when I have one eye constantly on the lookout for the latest school stuff, that means I don’t have both eyes on what I’m doing now.
Of course, I’m not saying that you should stick your head in the sand. We have to buy things sometimes and we need to be educated consumers to buy responsibly. But you can still find ways to protect and encourage your ability to practice contentment and live within your means!
Take a look at your spending patterns and see if you can find problem areas.
For example, eating out has always been my weakness. Some girls like clothes. Some like home decor. I like deep dish pizza. But by tracking our spending and setting limits we’ve saved over a hundred dollars a month in this category alone! We still go out to eat regularly but we budget for it which means pizza with NO guilt (no financial guilt anyway). Plus, we’ve improved our dinner planning and homemade recipes over the years so eating out isn’t as much of a temptation for us.
As I mentioned in the last post, even money-saving couponing websites can become a problem if the deals tempt you to buy things you don’t need. When I find myself getting too wrapped up in the “Gotta-Buy-It-Now-Red-Hot-Lowest-Price-Ever” hype or the “Buy-One-Get-One-When-You-Don’t-Need-One” deals, I take breaks from couponing entirely. After my couponing ‘Sabbath’ I come back with my needs, wants and priorities sorted out and I can stand up better to the advertising pressure.
Commercials, catalogs and advertisements aren’t inherently evil – they’re just doing their job. It’s up to us as consumers to set boundaries for ourselves. There’s a lot of content from the advertising industry that we can’t control which is why it’s so important that we are cautious about the influences we willingly invite into our lives.
Phew. I hope your cookie was enough to get you through this post. If you’re still with me, I promise the last two of the 4 C’s Strategies won’t be killjoys like this one was!
Click here to check out Part 3 of the Money-Saving Strategies series!
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