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How Visualizing Your Spending Can Help You Manage It

You understand the importance of saving, and you’ve even established some lofty saving goals to keep you motivated. But sooner or later, you’re going to run into some spending temptations.
Visualizing Spending

These opportunities are super-enticing, but are they worth it? That’s a decision that only you can make for yourself. Luckily, the only thing you need to make that choice is nestled between your ears: your brain.

Here’s what you need to do: Take a quick pause and use your noggin to visualize the spending scenario at stake. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to keep your spending and saving in check.

Visualize your present state

Take a moment and assess where you are right now, in this very second.

Focus first on your immediate thoughts and feelings, and think about how they might be affecting your current state of mind. For example, if you just got bad news, you might think an impulse purchase is a quick fix to feeling better (hint: It’s not). It’s kind of like how you know you shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach; sometimes, what’s going on inside can affect your actions on the outside.

Now, zoom out to the bigger picture and think about where you’re at in life right now. Maybe you’ve just achieved a major saving goal and are ready to make a purchase that you’ve been contemplating for a long time. Or maybe you’re feeling constantly stressed out about that looming credit card debt.

By visualizing your current micro and macro states, you’ll be better equipped to understand the needs and motivations that are at play. A little clarity is always a good thing.

Visualize the spending scenario

Time to work your imagination: Picture what will happen if you choose to spend your money on the item at hand. Think about what you will feel, what your life will look like, and how this new item will change things.

What you’re assessing is: How important is this item, really? Will it sincerely enhance your state of being, or is it a waste of your hard-earned cash?

Visualize the non-spending scenario

OK, now picture what will happen if you don’t buy the item. Again, think about the feelings that will result from that decision, and what life will look like without the item in your life (hint: Life will probably look an awful lot like it already does, which probably isn’t such a terrible thing).

Visualize yourself an hour (day, week, etc.) from now

When it comes to spending versus saving, it’s imperative to think long term. Spending might make you feel giddy in the short term, but saving is the real win in the long run. Unfortunately, if you’re spending it all now, you’ll never be able to experience what it’s like to save for later.

Measure the impact of the purchase at stake by considering how you will feel about it in an hour (or maybe a day, a week, or a month from now). If you skip that latte right now, you’ll probably feel a little woeful for a few minutes, but chances are you’ll have totally forgotten about it in an hour. Those pricey new shoes might be fun to show off tonight, but be honest: Will they be buried in the back of your closet (alongside your many other pairs) by the end of the weekend, never to be worn again?

Visualize your other goals

Spending isn’t necessarily a bad thing; you’ve earned that money, and you’re entitled to allocate it however you want. But not all spending is created equal. It’s important to keep your mind on your important spending goals, without letting all the other stuff get in the way.

If you have Simple, you can use the Goals function to help you literally visualize your spending goals, and your progress toward them. Whenever you’re tempted by a new potential purchase, pull out your Goals and think about how spending on something else will detract you from achieving what really matters.

Take action

You’ve contemplated your current state. You’ve thought about what will happen if you decide to purchase the item in question, and what will happen if you don’t. You’ve thought about the short-term and long-term impacts of your decision, and you know how the purchase fits into the big picture. You’re now equipped with the facts you need to make your decision, so go ahead and take action.

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor The Bancorp Bank, our partner bank, endorses any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.