You may not remember this, but during the last recession, it was actually trendy to cut up your charge cards and get out of debt. Well, that fad wore off rather quickly, didn’t it?Americans have since resorted to their free-spending ways, and now total debt in the US has hit a new all-time record. Over the past several years, 6-year-term loans have become common for financing cars, according to Experian. Borrowing creates the illusion that we can afford a better lifestyle than we really can. And sooner or later, the chickens will come home to roost. It’s never pretty when that happens. But here’s the strangest part of this – relationships and experiences “buy” more happiness than more “stuff” does.

Not convinced? Here’s a quick way to prove my point. Do you remember what you got for the holidays five years ago? Or even two? Didn’t think so.Whether it’s the holiday season or not, we’re all confronted with spending temptations all day long – Madison Avenue spends billions of dollars manipulating us into buying things we don’t want and don’t need. So here are 6 tips to combat the games Madison Avenue – and your mind – play on you…

6 Ways to Spend Less and Enjoy Life More

Tip #1: Be Clear About Wants versus Needs

Those slick Madison Avenue types would have us believe that we “need” lots of things, from the latest techno-gadget to that trendy new shoe to a house in the Hamptons! They tell us that we’re not sexy/successful/cool without what they’re selling. Their messages haunt us and drive us to spend what we don’t have to buy what we really don’t want.Before you buy something, stop and think about why you think you “need” something. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t buy it? Here’s a great tool to use to discover before you buy something whether it will give you lasting pleasure… or end up collecting dust and being soon forgotten. Check out the Bank On Yourself Spending Pleasure Meter here!

Tip #2: Curb the Impulse, Break the Spell

We’ve all been there: We’re in the checkout line at the grocery store and that Snickers Bar reminds us that we skimped on lunch and could use a boost. Whoosh! The bar flies into our cart! Or while running through the department store, we see a really cute blouse ON SALE. Zap! We find ourselves at home stuffing yet another blouse into our already stuffed closet.Here’s an easy trick that will help you curb that impulse. Next time you feel the urge to buy something you hadn’t planned to buy, simply clench your fist or flex your bicep. Voila! The spell is broken and you can actually think clearly again!

Tip #3: Wrap Your Charge Cards

Try wrapping your cards in your goals! Every time you take a card out, you’ll see a picture or some words that represent a goal that’s important to you. You get the opportunity to stop and decide whether what you’re about to purchase is more important than that goal. If it is or it doesn’t undermine your goal, you might go ahead and buy it. If it isn’t, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re a step closer to your goal because you chose to not purchase the item. It’s a win-win every time!

Tip #4: Big Happy versus Little Happy

What really makes you happy? Oh, I know that having a spiffy new car or an expensive, elegant bedspread feels great – for a while. But what really makes you truly happy? The Big Happy for most of us is having memorable experiences and being with the people we love. That other stuff we chase? That’s usually Little Happy – fleeting and not very fulfilling.

Tip #5: Be Consistently, Consciously Grateful

Studies have shown that a conscious practice of gratitude – such as writing in a gratitude journal for 5 minutes per day – has beneficial effects on our health, relationships, emotional well-being, and career. It lowers blood pressure, makes people like us more and even makes us better bosses.But did you know it also helps you become a conscious spender?When we practice gratitude, we feel “wealthier” and more prosperous in all ways. Our self-esteem is greater and we just generally feel happy and appreciative of the many aspects of our lives. Because of this, we’re less likely to crave material goods to feed an emotional need.

Tip #6: Know Your Spending Triggers

In psychology, a “trigger” is an unconscious connection that causes you to feel and react in certain ways. You may not know the original cause but the reaction is very consistent. The scent of cinnamon may make you instantly hungry and in dire need of a sticky bun. Sirens and lights flashing behind you may cause your palms to sweat and your heart to race even when you know the emergency has nothing to do with you. The trick to working with your spending triggers is to bring them to the light of day. Do you feel driven to buy extravagant gifts as soon as the mall’s Santa shows up? When you have a rough day at work, do you crave some retail therapy to feel better? When you’re out with old friends, do you order the most expensive item on the menu? Are you triggered to overspend in a bookstore, hardware store, or swap meet?”

Know thyself” – and especially know your triggers so you can outwit them!

Use these tips and you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to spend less while enjoying a richer life. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss ways to get a better handle on your budget and finances!

Yours in prosperity and conscious spending,

Teresa Kuhn and the Living Wealthy Team

(800) 382-0830