The Heart of the Spending Matter

The year is off to a roaring start and time is not slowing down. January is in the books and here we are in February. Love is in the air and retailers have been gearing up since January 5th to share the love of more spending. Yes, you read that correctly. I was in a local store on January 5th, wondering the aisles, looking for the deeply discounted holiday merchandise, hoping to stock up on wrapping paper and bows for next year and “poof” just like magic, the aisles had been transformed from a holiday wonderland to a sweet celebration with an endless supply of heart shaped boxes filled with tasty treats.

I stopped and thought, wow, the term “that’s a wrap” has taken on a whole new meaning! Folks are still trying to get over their holiday spending hangover and settle into their new year resolutions. You know the resolutions,to cut spending, start saving, get out of debt, and live a healthier lifestyle? Meanwhile, retailers are pulling at your heart strings by providing the perfect balance between temptation and impulse buying.

Seeing all those tasty sweet treats provides the temptation to 1) get you shopping again (because the holiday season did not give us enough retail therapy). 2) Break your new year resolution to live a healthier lifestyle (one chocolate won’t make a difference). 3) Fill your mind with the FOMO (fear of missing out) symptom that if you don’t impulse buy today, the treats will be gone, and you won’t have a card, stuffed animal, or heart shaped box filled with candy for your loved one(s). Before your heart skips a beat from the stress of shopping for the loves in your life, take the time to review the goals you set in January and develop a plan to stay on track! Believe me, there are plenty of ways to share the love.

Valentine’s Day has become a multibillion-dollar day. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $19.6 billion. So how do you share the love without experiencing the spending rush followed by the sweet spending crash once the day is over and the bill arrives in the mail? I have mentioned these tips before but, repetition is the key to forming new and improved habits (especially when it comes to spending).

Start by making a list of the family members and friends that you want to buy for (e.g., spouse, children, siblings, grandparents, friends, coworkers, teachers, etc.). Write down the name of each and what you want to buy for each. List items like cards, candy, gift cards, and dining out. Then, review the list and determine if you “really need” to buy for everyone on the list. If you don’t, eliminate names from the list.

Next, set a budget of the maximum amount that you want to spend on everyone and divide the amount between those listed. For example, if the maximum amount you want to spend is $100 and you have four loved ones on your list, note $25 for each. Or, spend $40 on one person and $20 on the remaining three. If you plan on dining out that evening, be sure to include that figure in the budget too and then reduce the amount for each person on the list.

When you venture out or online to shop, take the time to search for deals and coupons online, stick to your list and your designated budget, and don’t waiver and buy additional items. Once you fill your cart (either online or in the store), review the total of all the goods to confirm that you are within your budget. If you are over, put items back and get creative. I know this sounds harsh, but the reality is, cards and candy add up quickly. Last year, I had four cards in a basket, when I added the price of the cards up, the total was $25! The cards went back on the shelf and I got creative.

Getting creative will help you stick to a budget, help avoid the temptation of spending, and could help the recipient with a new year resolution too! If you know that a loved one is trying to eat healthier or exercise more, give the gift of a coffee card and a walk together versus a box of chocolates. If a friend or relative is trying to get out of debt, support them by cooking a meal at home versus going out. If cards put you over your budget, make fun cards for your loved ones. If sweet treats are a must, take the time to bake festive brownies or cookies. Recipients will appreciate the time you invested in making a homemade goodie, card, meal, or joining them on a walk far more than a store-bought gift. Getting creative allows you to stick to your goals, help a loved one stick to their goals, and give gifts made from the heart. Isn’t that what this day is all about anyway?

Need additional ways to get to the “Heart of the Spending Matter? Visit my website, www.jodeebrydges.comwhere you can find blog posts and links to purchase my new book “Digging Out”. Digging Out has a wealth of tips to help you stay on track and meet your financial goals in 2019!