Tips to tame silly spending

From the August 12 edition of Your Money Today on KWAV 97FM.

Spending is silly when it adds nothing to your life. It is the clutter in your garage, the unread magazines on your coffee table, the slowly rising balance on your credit card. The problem with silly spending is that it represents lost opportunity to do something more meaningful with your wealth and as such it diminishes your life.  Here are three tips to help you improve your life by taming your silly spending.

1) Kill the ATM habit. I know if feels great to have a wad of $20's in your pocket. The problem is that those pesky $20's don't stay there. They just evaporate leaving you no record of what you spent or where the money went. I got rid of my ATM card years ago and started using a credit card. Now I have a complete record of all my spending. Quicken lets me categorize my spending so I can see exactly where my money goes. Of course, if you're going to use a credit card make sure you pay it off every months. Paying credit card interest is the silliest expenditure of all.

2) Beware of the grocery store. Grocery stores can be a circus of silly spending. Here are some ideas and resources that can help you save thousands of dollars in the grocery store over the course of a year:

  • Cut out the quick trips. A study by the Marketing Science Institute found that people spend 54% more on those quick trips than they planned. Instead, make few but bigger trips to the store and plan ahead.
  • Turbocharge your savings with coupons. If you want a great online source for coupons and tips on how to use them, check out www.couponmom.com.
  • There are a lot of other ways to save money at the grocery store. Here is a very practical list from MSN.com.

3) Watch out when dining out. Restaurant meals can add up fast. If two people eat out once a week, over the course of a year they will spend more than $2,000. You can do better. If you want to find great deals, try www.restaurant.com where you can buy $25 gift certificates to local restaurants for only $10. Some restrictions apply, but the total savings generally run about 40%.

We only get to go through life once. Doesn't it make sense to make it count? By taming your silly spending, you enhance your ability to live more meaningfully.