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How to Get Control of Your Spending


(light, uplifting music) – Hi, everyone! My name is Ashley. I work at You Need a Budget
and I also love to spend. And during the interview process, I made sure that that was clear because I did not wanna be
hired under false pretenses! But back when I was looking
for a budgeting app, that’s something that drew me to YNAB. I had read other budgeting
and personal finance books in the past and they left
me feeling kind of bad, but in the You Need a Budget book, I never felt like anybody was telling me what I should or shouldn’t
spend my money on. Instead, it teaches about prioritizing and aligning your
spending with your goals, and that was huge to me. And while I would never consider myself a naturally frugal person, something I’ve learned to do is prioritize the things
that matter most to me and cut back on the rest. Now I feel like I can fully enjoy the things and experiences I buy because I’m being
intentional with my spending and I also don’t have that money
stress that I used to have. So today I’m gonna share
five things I’ve done since using YNAB that have helped me cut down on my spending
and get it under control. The first thing I did was
to create a wish list. This is my pen and paper one, and I also have a digital
one that I keep in Notion. I used to be a huge impulse shopper. Even as a little girl,
my mom would say to me, “Just because you walk into a store “doesn’t mean you need to buy something.” I don’t know why that concept
was so hard for me to get, but especially today, whether you’re shopping online at Amazon or you’re just running down to Target, it’s so easy to impulse shop, and Target has a couple danger areas. At least for me, it’s
the home decor section and the book section. So you’ll go in and you’ll have a purpose but you’ll see something cute, and I’ll think to myself, “Oh, that would look amazing in my house!” Add it to the cart. This is where the
wishlist comes into play. When I see something I want, instead of buying it right then, I add it to the wishlist and
I let a couple days go by, and the length of time
could be different for you. Might be longer, might be shorter. But the real purpose of the wishlist is to put a little space between that initial want and
actually purchasing the item, and I cannot tell you how many times I put something on the wishlist, I’m like, “Oh, I love this,
love this, love this.” And then next time I checked the wishlist, I will have completely
forgotten about that thing. I would love to know at this point just how much money the
wishlist has saved me. And Jim, one of our teachers, if you’ve taken one of his workshops, he has a question he likes to ask himself. Can I go one more day without buying this? And both that question and the wishlist, really what you’re trying to do is determine if something
is a need or a want. And sometimes, wants
are completely fine too! As long as you’re being really
mindful about the purchases. Another tool I used to get
my spending under control was the spending freeze. Two different times last
year for an entire month I only bought the essentials. So that means no coffees out, no clothes, no makeup, no books, no home decor. When it all came down to it, I think I only spent money on bills, groceries and pet-related items. By doing that, I definitely
learned a lot about myself. I fell prey to emotional
and aspirational spending. If you look at my YNAB reports, you can very clearly
match up high-spend months to Jeremy being gone. I guess I get a little bit lonely and I think maybe the UPS
guy would be a good friend! But there is, no matter
how brief or fleeting, a little jolt of happiness that comes from making a purchase. But now that I know that that’s a trigger, a much healthier thing, instead
of clicking add to cart, would be to text my mom and ask her if I can come over for a cup of coffee. When I think about aspirational spending, I always think about this
old episode of “30 Rock”. Liz Lemon is walking out
of the container store, arms laden down with all
the bags she’s carrying, and she says, “This is it! “My life is going to be so much better. “I’m going to become the
best version of myself.” And that has been me, whether it’s been hundreds of dollars on
organizational supplies or maybe going to the grocery store and buying produce I know
in my heart of hearts I’m probably not going to use. But who knows, maybe over the next week, I’m gonna become a person
who makes a smoothie every single day. So, while spending freezes, if you’re trying to save
money quickly, are amazing, I don’t think that’s the
main best benefit of them. I think knowing ourselves
and knowing our triggers are so important. That way, we’re not using
spending as a quick fix. During my first spending freeze, I also did a huge declutter of my house. I actually did one of
those minimalism games. So, I started on the first. Day one, I decluttered one thing. Day two, two things. On the 12th, I decluttered 12 things, all the way up until the end of the month. And when I was getting started with that, I was a little bit nervous. I was looking around and I thought, what if I don’t have
enough things to declutter to complete the challenge? But in the end, it was
shocking at how easy it was. By decluttering, I now know what I have, so I’m less likely to go
out and mindlessly spend. I’m also vigilant about the
things I allow in my life. I used to fall into the trap of going to a store and
seeing something beautiful or something that was so me, and feeling like I had to have it. But now I know that you
don’t have to own something to appreciate its beauty. You can admire it all you want, and it doesn’t have to come home with you. I feel like by keeping
my home more decluttered, I’m more focused and I can
be a lot more creative. I feel like the wishlist,
spending freeze and declutter were on the emotional side, and this next one is much more practical, but it is very powerful, and
that is to check your budget when you’re out shopping. In my very early 20s,
I was living at home, so I had hardly any bills,
and I had my first real job. Life was great, and I loved
to treat people all the time. And I remember being out
shopping with my sister, and I wanted to get us these shirts. And I had looked at my
bank account that morning, so I knew I had plenty
of funds to cover it, but when I went up to check out, my debit card got declined
and I was so confused. I remember saying, “Oh, run it again,” and that happened a couple of times before we finally left in embarrassment. I think my sister was dying in shame, but I walked out of the store and I pulled out my phone
to look at my bank app, and I suddenly remembered. Oh, I owed my mom money, and she had transferred money
out of my account that day. So if young Ashley had had a budget, we could’ve avoided that
very embarrassing situation! Instead of looking at what
I had in my bank account, I instead would’ve looked to see what I had left in my
clothing or gift categories and it would’ve reminded me
that while that number was big, I didn’t have access to all that money. Some of those dollars
were already allocated. I already owed those to my mom. So, if you’re trying to get
your spending under control, checking your budget,
not your bank account, could make all the difference. It’s just a great reminder that you don’t have access
to all of that money. Some of your dollars already have jobs. Some are going to rent, some
are going to auto maintenance. Some might be going to
next year’s vacation. It just gives you all the information so that you can make the
best spending decisions. Building off of that is
my fifth and final tip and that is to find the money first. This is a phrase I learned in one of my favorite articles
on our blog, written by Dave. He is so funny, and the
article really helped to change my mindset, so I
have it linked down below. But the basic principle is that if you are going to overspend a category before you make the purchase, you must find where that money
is going to come from first. As an example, let’s say I’m getting ready to overspend my dining out category. No money left in the category, but I really want takeout,
and it’s only $22. What’s $22 in the grand scheme of life? I will just fix it in my budget tomorrow. But if I were to pause
before making the call to place the order and
check my budget first, maybe I’d see that I don’t
have a lot of wiggle room. I have no money left in fun money, I have no money left in gaming. So if I wanna spend this money,
I’m gonna have to pull it out of my vacation fund. It helps put things in perspective. Do I want the takeout enough that I’m willing to lose some
of the progress I’ve made towards my vacation goal? Maybe the answer’s yes,
maybe the answer is, you know what, I’m just going
to scrounge through the pantry and make do for the evening. Those are the five things I’ve been doing to get my spending under control. The wishlist, spending freeze, declutter, checking my
budget while I’m out, not my bank account, and
finding the money first. And it does really come back to making sure that your priorities are in line with your spending. And while I might not ever
be a truly frugal person, I do wanna make sure that
I’m not being wasteful and I’m not spending mindlessly, and that my money is bringing
the most value to my life. I would love to know if you have any tips for getting your spending under control. Please leave that in a comment! I’m sure we’d all love to read it. But thank you so much for watching, and I’ll talk to you again very soon. (light, uplifting music)

Norman Bunn

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