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3 Steps to Buying More Stuff You Want Right Now

3 Steps to Buying More Stuff You Want Right Now

Most people think that the secret to solving their problems is more money—they think that if they increase their income then they’ll be able to buy more stuff and life will get easier. I’ve seen surveys where people estimate that if their income increased 10% it would make a huge difference to their standard of living, but the problem is that when they reach that amount, they still feel they need another 10% on top of that as well.

It’s a never-ending cycle of income (and spending) increase, so let’s break the cycle right now by learning 3 steps to buying more stuff you want right now.

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Step #1 – Awareness

Most of us have no idea where our money is actually going, and we have to ask ourselves whether we’re spending it on things that really matter to us. The little things we buy have an amazing way of adding up and we have to look at their long term cost to fully understand what we’re losing. For example, if you spend just $4 each weekday on snacks and coffee, you will have spent $1000 in a year. Are those snacks really giving you $1000 of value each year? Or would you rather be spending that on a vacation, your family, or a hobby you love?

Action Step #1: Take a little notebook or piece of paper with you for the next week and write down everything you spend money on. Then take these figures and use them to estimate your yearly spending. You’ll be amazed what this easy exercise will reveal.

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Step #2 – Prioritize

Now that you know where your money’s going, you need to ask yourself if you’re really happy with your spending habits. Maybe you really want your snack and coffee habit but you could do without some magazines. Maybe there are some food items you can do without, or you could cut back on your electric bill somehow. Everyone’s spending is their own personal choice and it’s completely up to you where you spend your money. That being said, I suggest that you prioritize your spending based on your own personal needs and wants—that way you’ve made a conscious choice to spend your money on the things that are most important to you.

Action Step #2: Make a list of all your current spending and put it in your own order of importance. Are there things that you’d like to buy that you feel you can’t purchase now? Add them to your list and work out how important they actually are to you in comparison with everything else.

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Step #3 – Management

Now that you’ve determined what’s really important to you it’s time to embed some habits to help you get them. The reason that it’s easy to spend $4 a day on snacks and not save for a vacation right now is simply because of our established routines. Change your habits and you’ll bring more of the things you want into your life.

Once you decide what you want to buy then you can put a strategy in place to get there. Let’s say that you want your $1000 vacation but never have that much in the bank. Well, now we set up a strategy where you put just $4 a day towards your trip. I like to withdraw my spending money in cash at the start of the week, so I know exactly how much I have to spend on food, fun, and my long-term savings goals (which goes into a clearly labeled jar or savings account). If I run out of fun money that week then I have to wait until Monday rolls around before I can spend more.

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You’ll be surprised how easy this discipline becomes with a little practice, and it’s easy to stay motivated when you have your vacation fund growing right before your eyes. If you find that you keep dipping into your savings, then put barriers in the way, such as moving them to an account that’s hard to access or giving them to a trusted friend for safe keeping.

Action Step #3: Create a money-management strategy that works for you. Make it simple and easy to follow, and use safeguards to stay honest. When temptation strikes remember the true cost of that $4 snack and decide if it’s really worth it.

When you implement the Awareness – Prioritize – Management steps in your life you’ll find yourself buying things that you could “never afford” before, and enjoying your money a whole lot more.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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