Saving money is tough, especially if you are an impulse shopper. And let’s face it, most of us are, including me.
Whether you’re attempting to save for a home or build a rainy-day fund, the idea of saving can quickly drain you.
Even if you strive to keep your spending under control, spontaneous purchases can become the bane of your financial account.
Many financial rules and suggestions have been created in an attempt to curb this plight.
Arguably, one of the best ones to have come out of it is the 30-Day Spending rule.
What is the 30-day spending rule?
The 30-day spending rule is a straightforward, easy-to-follow technique for reducing impulse buys and increasing your savings.
Applying the rule is quite simple: Delay your purchase.
As the name suggests, you’ll be delaying your purchase for 30 days at minimum.
Basically, anytime you’re thinking of making a purchase or simply buying something, walk out of the store or close your browser.
It’s kind of like saying to yourself, “Not yet. Not until I get my ducks in order.”
After the 30 days have passed, go ahead and buy it if you still want it. At the very least, you’ll know you’ve made a more informed decision. You might even appreciate the item more.
Why the 30-day spending rule works?
One of the most basic and frequently repeated pieces of financial advice is to save.
However, it’s a little bit like knowing you shouldn’t smoke. Despite knowing how necessary it is, many of us simply fail to implement such advice.
We get it. Knowing that you should save isn’t enough. There are a lot of psychological barriers associated with it. And a large part of it comes down to core habits and associations.
The 30-day savings rule works because it is so simple. And you’re not burdened with an immediate yes or no proposition. You’re simply delaying a purchase. And that simple delay can be quite powerful.
You’re not straight up telling yourself that you can’t have it. You’re also not making any rash decisions either. And you’ve got a month-long window of time to resolve your dilemma. There is no rush.
You’re removing emotions with the 30-day spending rule
You may have experienced in the past, even if by accident, how simply pausing and giving yourself more time to reflect can result in much better decision making.
Why is that? It’s because you are eliminating emotions from your decision. Simply buying or not buying forces you to utilize the extremes of your decision-making prowess.
When you are delaying instead, you’re straddled in between the extremes, and you’re free to float in that space for a month.
If you start to realize that your month is becoming unnecessarily difficult or annoying, you won’t have any hesitation by the end of the month to purchase the item.
If by the end of the month you realize you didn’t even think about the item, it makes it much easier not to purchase it. After all, you already didn’t purchase it for a whole 30 days and it didn’t even bother you.
Personally, after practicing the 30-day spending rule for awhile, I can now apply the principle of the 30 day spending rule on the spot.
What should I use the 30-day spending rule on?
The 30-day rule is a good idea for bigger purchases like a new computer or a vacation, but not for minor ones like a movie night.
Be careful about this point because putting too many restrictions on your spending habits can make it difficult to stick to your commitments. For smaller purchases, try creating an entertainment fund that you allow yourself to tap into whenever you want, guilt-free.
Your entertainment fund can be as large or as small as you choose, but we recommend no more than 10% of your salary to avoid depleting your savings.
If your monthly budget doesn’t have enough wiggle room to support an entertainment fund, consider using whatever cashback earnings you get on a monthly basis.
How can I take the 30-day spending rule further?
Combining this simple concept with a tactile experience of physically picking up the item off the shelf and then putting it back can enhance the psychological commitment to sticking to the rule.
This can also apply to bookmarking the product on an e-commerce store while planning to return to it after 30 days.
Make a mental or even physical note regarding the item or service you wanted on the day you saw it. Include the store name, price, color, etc. Put it up on your fridge or store the details on your phone.
Next, put together the money to buy the item. Again, this goes back to a stronger tactile experience related to your psychological commitment. This can either be physical or earmarked in your bank account.
When your 30 days are up, reflect on how often you thought about it. If you barely remember it, take it as living proof that perhaps you didn’t need that item one single bit.
If you did think about it and still believe it’s a good purchase, you’ve got the money all lined up!
If your purchase is especially expensive, perhaps think about applying the 1% rule of purchase.
What else should you do in the 30 days of your 30-day spending rule?
Do more research on the product. You can never do too much of this step. You have all month on your side. Find out more about the product, alternative models, and whether there’s a better deal offered on it elsewhere.
This not only potentially saves you money if you don’t end up purchasing the product, but also saves you money if you do purchase the product at a better price. A win-win all around if you ask me. Taking the time to research and decide if you truly want the product or not will make getting it more satisfying. You will appreciate the item more because of all the thought that was put into it.
It’s difficult to do something consistently when it’s unnecessarily complex. The simpler it is, the more effective it can often be.
And there’s no question that the 30-day spending rule is so simple that even the worst of money managers can apply it to their daily lives.
Try it out. At the very least, you give yourself a fighting chance.