When the "Confirm Purchase" button comes calling, if I have even a hint of guilt or hesitation, then I run through a couple of steps to make sure this is something I actually need and truly, seriously want.
This is my first line of defense. If it's a clothing purchase, I check the clothing category and see what I have left to spend in the month, taking into consideration any other clothing purchases still needed. Same goes for miscellaneous purchases (which is anything not grocery, clothing and medically-related) and date night.
This is the yellow light on my spending; this is the gas gauge vs. miles per gallon; this is that big yellow electric flashing sign on the sign of the road, show your illegal speed in a school zone. (a little too heavy on the vehicular metaphors today, lady.)
No other budgeting program has worked for us like Every Dollar has. This is not a paid sponsorship of Every Dollar either, ha! It just happens to be the one that I recommend to anyone who says "budgeting just doesn't work for me." And then I cackle an evil laugh and grab their phone to open the App Store.
2. Shop my closet
This could also be "shop ALL THE CLOSETS IN THE HOUSE." I'm a sucker for a clean, free-of-clutter room. But I'm not a sucker for giving away lots of stuff. No, I just box it, bag it, then push-cram-stack it three giant tupperwares deep in the closet of any given room.
Out of sight and out of mind, for sure. It means that in April, I forget where my summer clothes are. In October, I don't see the boy's sweaters. I had a crisis once when Sean was travelling somewhere frigid for work but it was 60 degrees where we live, and he wanted to take his gloves with him. Cue me half buried in our master closet, shouting out "I KNOW they're here somewhere" and "HEY look I found bathing suits!!"
It totally goes for shoes, too. I found myself perusing a new pair of summer Crocs on Amazon Warehouse last month, but a cursory look at the shoes in my closet revealed the Birkenstocks (pictured above) that I bought last spring--bought for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of being multi-summer shoes so I wouldn't have to buy a new pair every summer. #facepalm
3. Make a deal with myself
Often I'll identify a household need--say, footed-but-not-fleece sleepers for the baby. Or a new colander for the kitchen. Or more juice glasses because uh-oh, another one shattered.
Once I zero in on a thing we need, I'll give myself a few weeks to try and find that item at a thrift store. or Once Upon a Child. Or, I'll even hold out that a bag of hand-me-downs will magically appear from a friend who is cleaning out her closets--which happens pretty frequently, I'm blessed to say.
But if after a few weeks and a few trips to various used stores, I'm still not finding that item, then I have a greater sense of justification that the only way we could get the item (or get it in decent condition) was to buy it new. And even then, I try to price-check it with at least three sources: Amazon, Walmart, and my own local stores.
So, that's it! And after all that, I could still probably cut down my spending a lot more. I'd love to hear how you put the brakes (there she goes again) on spending.