As someone living on a tight post-college budget, I’d like to think that I’m good at stopping myself from spending when I shouldn’t. However, there are days when my resolve is weak and I rationalize buying an overpriced coffee drink or a pair of boots very similar to ones I already own (because I need to have different colors). Usually my rationalization holds up just long enough for me to make an unnecessary purchase, at which point it evaporates and I’m left questioning my spending habits.
I know I’m not the only person who makes these excuses, so I thought I’d compile five that I frequently hear, along with tips to avoid them.
It’s on Sale
There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with snagging a great Groupon deal or getting a discount on a product that you were planning to buy anyway. However, it’s important to do the math — sales don’t always save us as much money as we think. It’s also essential to read the fine print — if you have to redeem that Groupon discount at a store that’s 30 miles away, you’ll end up wasting time and gas money.
I Don’t Have Time to Cook
If you’re stressed after work, you’re less likely to have the willpower to make dinner and more likely to rationalize eating out. Avoid falling into this trap by cooking a large meal (or several meals, for variety) on Sunday and freezing it for the week. You can also prepare your lunch the night before to avoid buying lunch because you were rushed in the morning.
I Had a Rough Day
Again, stress is going to lower your resolve and make it easier to rationalize buying something that you don’t need. Instead of practicing retail therapy, look for a less expensive (or free) activity that helps you relax, like going for a run or volunteering at an animal shelter.
I Might Get a Raise/New Job Soon
Most recent college graduates start out with an average starting salary of $45,327 (which actually sounds pretty good to me) and aspire to move to a higher paying position after gaining experience. While aspiring to upward mobility is great, avoid thinking things like, "Once I buy a fancy new wardrobe I’ll get promoted" or "I can afford higher rent this year because I should be getting a better job soon." If you’re having trouble living within your current means, write out a monthly budget and take a harsh look at where your money is actually going.
All My Friends Are Splurging
Don’t fall into a group mentality: you don’t necessarily know your friends’ financial situation, and just because everyone else in your group is splurging on appetizers and drinks doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to do the same. Try to avoid costly situations if they’re too much of a temptation, and consider recruiting a thrifty friend to help you stay within the spending limits you’ve set for yourself.