Ever notice something about commercials? Everyone—from department stores to cell phone providers to auto insurance companies—is always promising to save you money. “Everything is on sale!” they proclaim. But if everything you buy is on sale, why are you always running out of money?
No matter what the commercials say, you can’t spend your way to savings. I repeat, retailers are not in the business of helping you save money, but getting you to spend it.
The truth is, spending is the opposite of saving. The only way to save is to spend less than you have and bank the difference. If you are serious about adopting spending habits to save money, especially during peak shopping seasons, you must do the following:
Never buy things that you haven’t budgeted for.
Yes, you need to live according to a budget, or what I prefer to call a spending plan. Unplanned spending is a key sign of a poverty-creation, as opposed to a wealth-creation, lifestyle.
Never shop without a list.
Include the amount you expect to pay for each item on that list. How do you know what the prices will likely be? By researching online before you head out to buy. Focus on buying the things on your list for less than the price you projected. Catch them on sale, use coupons, haggle with the salesperson—whatever you can do to get the lower price.
Now, the most important part: Do not spend your savings.
If your list called for you to spend $600, but you were able to get everything on your list for $455, keep the $145 you saved, no matter what great deals you have to pass up or how persuasive the sales people. Put that money toward paying down debt or boosting savings—anything but more spending.
The bottom line: you can only save money if you bank your savings. That requires planning and discipline. No matter what the commercials say, don’t believe the hype.
Black Enterprise Executive Editor-At-Large Alfred Edmond Jr. is an award-winning business and financial journalist, media executive, entrepreneurship expert, personal growth/relationships coach, and co-founder of Grown Zone, a multimedia initiative focused on personal growth and healthy decision-making. This blog is dedicated to his thoughts about money, entrepreneurship, leadership and mentorship. Follow him on Twitter at @AlfredEdmondJr.