In The NewsMSN featuring the Good Housekeeping story about Wealth Watchers
The Wealth Watchers plan requires you to write down every single thing you spend every single day. Will wants $5 for lunch? I dig through my purse, find the notebook included with the book, and write it down. I’ve spent $9.74 for a new razor, or $3.26 for a latte? Down it goes in the notebook. It’s a massive pain in the butt, because it’s yet another chore in my already demand-filled day, but Susan, who can always be counted on to see the bright side, points out the big plus.
“It forces you to have a ‘think-before-you spend moment,'” she says, quoting Wood. “When I realize I’m going to be held accountable for what I buy, it’s easier for me to say no to things I don’t need.” I see what she means, and yet already I’ve succumbed to the siren song of unnecessary stuff. I know enough to stay away from Nordstrom and Anthropologie when I’m trying to save money, but one afternoon I stroll into my favorite consignment store — used equals cheap, right? — where I find racks of trendy summer shirts. I already own enough shirts to clothe a small village, but I pull a few out and try them on anyway. They all fit perfectly. Together they come to $72, not much below my daily spending allowance. With regret, I start to put them back. Then the saleswoman says, “Did I mention that today only, all shirts are 15 percent off?” My credit card is out of my wallet and on the counter before I can think, What would Wealth Watchers say? The total, including our 9 percent sales tax, is $66.70. “What a great deal!” the saleswoman chirps.
But when I log the purchase in my notebook, I can hear my own lecturing-the-kids voice ask, Now, Ginny, tell me: Was that a want or a need?
What I need — far more than another top — is help getting my several-hundred-dollars-a-month clothing habit under control, so I call Sally Palaian, Ph.D., a psychologist and money coach in Detroit. When I describe my dizzyingly fast splurge, she says, “There are certain words, like ‘sale,’ that can trigger spending. You need to build in a buffer period — time to think about every purchase before you buy it. Next time you want something, wait a day, or call a friend and run it by her. Another thing that’s helpful is to tape a note to your credit card that says, ‘Do I really need this?'” The note strategy works well, I find, when it comes to sweet treats. When I ask myself, Do you really need a coffee drink or a cupcake — expensive and caloric? the answer is always no. But clothing is harder for me to resist. Susan, who’s put herself on a strict no-shopping regimen, has been having old clothes altered so they seem new and is particularly happy with an old below-the-knee-length skirt that’s now more of a mini. “But I miss getting new things,” she admits.
Wood suggests I try to treat my closet more like a store. “When you want to buy something, go home and look through your closet first to see what you already have that’s similar,” she says. “It’s amazing how often the thing you want is almost the same as something you already have.”
I think guiltily of the 40 pairs of jeans that are spilling out of my closet and realize she has a point. Clearly I need all the help I can get, so I also decide to try a wacky strategy I heard a friend mention not long ago: I put my credit cards in the freezer — a symbolic move that will, hopefully, put a chill on my shopping.
To read more, please visit http://yourmoney.msn.com/saving-money-tips/33121423/3.