At LearnVest, we pretty much view our Certified Financial Planners® like superhuman beings:They always know the most up-to-date numbers that affect our finances–and they’re really, really good at getting people to stick to budgets.
That said, we know that deep down they’re just like us, that in addition to their amazing wealth of financial know-how, they also have to pay off loans, budget for big expenses and generally put their money where their mouths are.
“One of my ‘secrets’ is to window-shop instead of actual shopping. I’ll go to a store and pick up something I absolutely don’t need, and then walk around with it for a little while.
Something about carrying it around with me gives me the thrill of ‘owning’ it for a little while, and then I end up feeling like I don’t really need it or the checkout line is too long or it’s too heavy… whatever silly reason I tell myself results in me putting the item back.”
“Now for the dirty splurge … I love kitchen gadgets! My best friends think it’s ridiculous that I probably have as many as Martha Stewart, yet I don’t really cook. Need a special tool to de-stem a strawberry? Yep. Want to core your apples into perfect slices? You bet.
“Corral your shish-kebobs in a little cage, so the pieces don’t slip off onto the grill? Got it! I truly believe that the time I have spent watching Top Chef is going to pay off — and I will be prepared!”
“Buying a car with the internet manager of a dealership can save you thousands! Most dealerships have a separate sales department (it could just be one person) that only deals with online sales. Internet managers usually aren’t pushy about financing and warranties.
“And even if they don’t have the inventory that you want, they can sometimes do a swap with another dealership to get you the car for the price you agree on. While this definitely takes longer than just walking into a dealership, I’ve been able to get cars a lot closer to the invoice price (rather than the inflated list price), thus saving thousands on the purchase.”
“I love shoes, but I’m also a cheapskate. So I compromise by buying the designer knockoff shoes at Target. I also love going out to eat — but I make sure that I budget for it, to keep myself in check.”
“I hate budgeting, so I purposely set up contributions to my Roth IRAs and different savings accounts each month to make sure that I save first before I spend. Also, since I use credit cards responsibly, I’m always on the lookout for ways to maximise credit card rewards.
“I’m going to Costa Rica in February, and I used United credit card miles, combined with Chase Ultimate rewards, to pay for the flights. So I got $1,500 worth of airfare for $95!”
“My bad habit is that I don’t spend very much on groceries because I eat out way too much. I love to meet up with girlfriends for dinner and a bottle of wine. I’ve tried to switch to happy hours or bring a bottle of wine to a friend’s house to save money, but our dining budget needs to be cut back!”
“Don’t shop with a cart! I love Target — and they have some great deals — but the problem is that I can’t seem to get out of there without spending $100! So I now limit myself to whatever I can carry, skipping the basket or cart. When I start dropping things, and people keep asking whether I need a basket, I know it’s time to head to the checkout!”
“I love Parker dresses, and let’s just say that signing up for the Shopstyle email alerts for Parker sales turned out to be a bad idea … So I had to unsubscribe, and only look at it when I actually ‘need’ something.”
“I save up my cash rewards from my credit cards each year, and then cash out to Christmas shop. And I try to set my budget to whatever that amount turns out to be. I have to admit that my husband’s gift doesn’t get included in that pool of money, but I can pretty much cover my friends and family with it!”
“It’s shopping at Nordstrom.com: I absolutely love shopping online, and I have a Nordstrom card. To curb this habit, I include shopping in my personal escrow by saving up for a few months and then shopping for some nice things about four times a year.
“I’m also guilty of overpaying for a really good IPA. (For you non-beer snobs out there, an IPA is a delicious, hoppy brew that has about 8%+ alcohol content — and can match that number in price for a single beer.)
“My solution: Rather than pay $12 bucks for a single beer at a gastropub (did I really admit to that?), I’ll drop $13 on a six pack, and head over to my brother’s house to share. I blame him for my deep love affair with IPAs!”
“Cutting out $5 coffees actually doesn’t make you rich in the long term, but cutting big fixed expenses can! I found a foreclosed home that’s not in perfect shape, but that cut my monthly mortgage payment to less than $700 per month, including insurance and taxes.
“If you can live with not having the ‘perfect’ home, you can find amazing deals out there. I also sold one of my nicer vehicles, and bought an older one in good running condition that I paid for in cash. That alone will save me over $15,000 in the next 5 years!”
“I am easily seduced by bath and body products. If I find a perfect body scrub or bath bombs, I have a hard time not buying them. The expenses are relatively small ($5-15 a pop), but they add up fast. Lush is a killer for me–it’s a good thing that the closest one is an hour away!”