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Cash Flow

  • Budgeting, Cash Flow, Personal Growth

    6 Tips to Combat Impulse Spending

    Every day our email in boxes are filled with tempting offers from online stores and brick and mortar retailers — bait for the millions of “fish” they hope to land. If the bait works and you bite, guess what? You’re part of the billion dollar catch! There’s a carefully planned strategy behind their actions. The strategy has one aim and one aim only — to convince you that if you don’t buy now, you’ll miss your chance to snag their great deal! That’s why you’ll often see phrases like “last chance!” or “sale ends at midnight!” on so many online solicitations. And so you “bite”, grab the “deal” and feel a mixture of temporary elation mingled with guilt for breaking your budget and spending money you know you shouldn’t spend. The next day, new offers from the same retailers unfailingly appear with phrases like “sale extended for one more day!” or “absolutely your last chance!”.

    Since the whole strategy behind creating a workable budget is careful planning, impulse spending has to be one of the biggest budget “whammies” there is, since by its very nature it’s unplanned. According to Ian Zimmerman, PhD for Psychology Today, impulse buying is related to anxiety and unhappiness. Paradoxically, impulse buying typically results in buyer’s remorse and unhappiness, which should be a convincing argument for finding a way to stop doing it!

    Some of us are more likely to succumb to impulse spending than others. Zimmerman says that’s because some of us have a personality trait called, logically enough, “impulse buying tendency”, meaning that impulse buying isn’t an occasional trap we fall into, but rather a habit that we succumb to regularly. People who possess the trait are more social, more conscious of social status, and concerned with their image. They also tend to experience higher levels of anxiety and have trouble controlling their emotions.

    But whether you’re spending on impulse to look better in the eyes of your peers, or to get yourself out of a bad mood by “buying” a little (short-lived) happiness, there are ways to combat your urges and take control of your finances. Here are 6 tips to help you combat impulse spending once and for all:

    1. Don’t shop when you’re upset.

    It’s too easy to fall into the trap of buying something you don’t really need in the hope that it will make you feel better. (It might — for an hour or a day!)

    2. Stop thinking of the mall or online shopping sites as “entertainment”.

    Real entertainment makes us feel good. Shopping for entertainment tends to do the opposite. We wind up feeling cheated because we can’t afford something we see that we’d like to have, or we buy it and feel guilty for spending impulsively and breaking our budget. It’s a no-win situation! Start by unsubscribing to any physical catalogs or online solicitations you’re regularly receiving. You can use a service like Unroll Me, to unsubscribe from multiple retailers at once, or simply find the “unsubcribe” link usually found at the bottom of a retailer’s email message and click on it.

    3. Go shopping with a list.

    Buy only what’s on the list and get out of the store as fast as you can — no browsing!

    4. Ask yourself questions.

    “Do I really need this?”, or “Will buying this really change my life and make me happier?”. Be honest with yourself! Don’t try to “sell” yourself to justify an impulse buy.

    5. Watch out for the “on sale” trap.

    An astonishing number of us buy things simply because they’re on sale and we “could use it”. Truth is, we could all use the extra money more!

    6. Keep a list of the things you really want/need.

    (That way, if you find one of them on sale and have the cash on hand to buy it, it really will be a good deal!)

    There will always be “stuff” out there that we’d love to have, and there will always be people who have more than we do. Those are things we can’t control. The only thing we can do is learn to control our impulses by stopping, taking a breath, and remembering we can actually find happiness without acting on every impulse!


  • Budgeting, Cash Flow

    5 Ways To Increase Your Cash Flow

    We spend a lot of time tackling debt and budgeting our cash flow.  But what happens when your budget just keeps coming up red month after month?  You’ve made all the cuts you can, and if you see one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich you might puke.  Cutting expenses will only get you so far.  At some point we have to address income.

    Here are a few ways you can explore to increase your cash flow.

    1. Ask for a raise

    Getting a raise in your current job is the first thing you should consider. But when you ask for a raise, you have very little leverage with your employer. After all, they already have you. So you must make a convincing case for why you deserve a raise. Here are some ideas on how to ask for a raise.

    2. Change Jobs

    If you’re currently in a job that doesn’t pay well enough to enable you to consistently contribute to your savings and retirement plans, it may be time for a change. Of course, whether you should change jobs is dependent on a number of important factors including the overall job market, the job market in your chosen field, and your own expertise and experience in that field.

    3. Sell Stuff Online

    When most people think of selling products online, they think of sites like eBay and Amazon. While those certainly are among the most well-known, they’re not alone in that industry. There are dozens of online marketplaces and platforms where you can sell stuff. Whether it’s your own items, or things you sell for others on consignment, online selling is a good way to generate extra income without interfering with your full-time job.

    4. Teach people what you know

    Most of us have skills and talents other people would like to learn; we just don’t realize it. Take an honest inventory of your own skills and talents, including what you do at your job, and determine if there’s something in your skill-set that’s marketable as something you could teach people for money. If you’re honest with yourself, you should be able to come up with at least one. You can then monetize that expertise by teaching people with less experience or knowledge than you in that subject area.

    5. Become a Contributing Writer

    This dovetails nicely with the teaching people what you know idea. There are dozens of blogs and online magazines that will pay you on a per-article basis to write for them; and you don’t need to be an established writer to do it. All you need is some subject matter knowledge and the ability to string words together into coherent sentences.

    We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible here. Opportunities abound for those who seriously want to earn extra money, regardless of their level of experience. Here are some additional ideas on ways to increase your cash flow: