Junk. It's everywhere. Junk food, junk mail, junk content, physical junk- we have so much of it that people can make a living helping us organize and declutter it. At the root of almost all of the junk in our lives, is the junk spending that brings the junk into our world in the first place.
To me, junk is the empty calories of life. It's the stuff that neither nourishes nor brings us true pleasure or joy. It's the stuff we put in our mouths just to fill the emptiness in our stomachs and the stuff we put in our lives just to fill some kind of emptiness inside.
So what can we do to cut our junk spending? First we need to look at when it happens, where it happens, how it happens and why it happens.
When: Take a look at your recent credit card and bank statements. Identify some of the purchases that give you that hollow, bloated, empty feeling inside. These are things that you probably shouldn't have bought at the time and then regretted when the credit card bill came. What time of day did you buy them? Do you tend to make these kinds of purchases late at night when you are unwinding after a difficult day? Is it in the rushed grocery store run between work and dinner? Or out on the weekend when you just want to have a good time and not think about budgets and restrictions?
Where: Were these purchases made online or in person? Are there certain places where you make a lot more of these purchases? A certain mall or store?
How: Did you use a saved credit card on your computer or Amazon one-click shopping that allowed you to make the purchase without even opening your wallet or pulling out a card? Did you use a physical card in a store? Did you use Paypal online?
Why: Think back to what was going on when you made these purchases. Were you out with friends and just went with the flow? Were you unwinding at night after a stressful day at work and finally getting the kids fed and off to bed? Were you at the store with your kids and gave into pleading for a toy that they played with for a day and then forgot?
Figure out if there is a pattern in your junk spending. When, where, how and why do you do most of the junk spending you do. And now it is time to put some barriers in place.
1. Disable Amazon one-click shopping and clear out all saved credit cards from your computer and phone.
2. Take a tiny post it note and write something like "No Junk!" or "Stop and Think" on the post it then stick it to the front of your credit card. Use it to cover up the numbers so you will actually have to look under it to get to the numbers.
3. Change you Paypal password to something that will remind you to stop and think or not buy junk so you have to type that in every time you go to buy something with it online.
4. Did you identify a danger zone store or shopping mall where you tend to make a lot of junk purchases? If so, deliberately stop going to those places. If you usually meet friends there, ask to meet somewhere else, a coffee shop or at your house. If you can send your spouse to that store with a list instead of you, do. And if you have to go to that store for something, make a list ahead of time and stick to it.
5. Did you identify danger zone times of day when you tend to do more junk spending? If so, make plans for how to spend that time instead of surfing the web or going to stores. If it is in the evening, make plans to do something with someone, or have a phone date with a friend, or make the time just before going to bed book reading time instead of internet shopping. Put it in your calendar with a reminder!
Give these 5 quick and easy steps a try and let me know in the comments how it works out for you.