One of the reasons we work is so we can spend money and treat ourselves, but the pitfalls of over-spending are many and bring little satisfaction. Wise spending, says Bruce Cameron, author of Financial Freedom for Women, is essential if you want to achieve financial independence.
Bruce has these tips for learning to spend wisely:
• Write a shopping list and stick to it. Wandering down the aisle grabbing what inspires you will cost you more.
• Don't be shy of peering at the price-per-kilogram label for produce. Just because a box is bigger and cheaper than its shelf mate does not mean it's the bargain.
• Be organised and shop at supermarkets. Convenience stores cost you more because they open early and close late.
• Be wary of 'best buys'. Offers at the end of supermarket aisles are not always cheaper because the product producer pays more for this coveted position. Get into the habit of comparing prices.
• Never borrow to finance your daily needs – the interest will make each item cost you more and will soon land you in debt.
Need help? Here are 10 ways to reduce your food bill.
Splashing out on something big?
Quality is particularly important when you are buying high-priced items, such as a DVD system. In this instance it may be worth your while to pay a bit more to make sure you get a better quality.
• Shop around. Different stores offer different prices for the same item, so if it's an expensive item, do your homework.
• Hire-purchase can be tempting, especially if your funds are tight, but it can end up costing you a lot of money in high interest rates. You may be better off giving yourself a budget and then buying accordingly. If, for example, you have just bought a house, it may be worth your while to buy second-hand furniture; through flea markets, the classifieds or auctions. Just be careful to stick to the price you're prepared to pay and don't get carried away on a wave of enthusiasm.
Get a guarantee
A guarantee can be an indication of the faith a manufacturer has in a product. It is worth factoring in the guarantee details when buying a product. You get two types of guarantee:
• A full guarantee ensures that no matter what goes wrong, your purchase will be replaced or repaired, or you'll get your money back.
• A limited guarantee means that the guarantee will only be met under certain conditions – the parts may be replaced at no cost, but you will have to pay for labour; or not everything is guaranteed.
Remember to check the guarantee policy of the store; some will take the goods back easily and others will expect you to deal with the manufacturer directly. Always keep your sales slip and guarantee forms in a safe place.
Beware of shopping on the street. While this is a popular way of picking up bargains, there is also a risk of scams. You could be buying stolen goods or cheap counterfeits.
While the price might seem genuine, the quality often is not, and you have no comeback if things go wrong.
Watch out for the plastic trap
Credit cards or store cards can be a sure-fire way to lead a girl astray. Be wary of credit cards.
It is too easy to use a card for an impulse buy, particularly for something expensive. If you have a tendency to spend easily, avoid credit cards and store cards altogether, as they can lead to debt and trouble. And never use the budget part of your credit card; it is anything but budget.
A last bit of advice: Don't try to keep up with the Joneses. Chances are they don't sleep easy at night because of the debt burden they carry.