A Cost Cutting Mindset

Are you trying to make ends meet, save for an emergency fund, plan for retirement, pay off debt or cut expenses? All of these goals may mean changes in your behavior and when you are trying to change behavior one of the most important things you can do it to pray. For most people praying is the last thing they would think about doing. But praying gives you a sense of meaning and purpose you just can’t get any other way.

Matthew, Chapter 7:7-11, is titled The Answer to Prayers. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Start your cost-cutting mindset with prayer and continue to ask for help as you move forward.

Waiting 90 days to decide on a large purchase is an excellent way to avoid instant gratification. Use a wishlist and write down the item you want to buy. Get 3 prices and wait 90 days. After 90 days if you still want that item and the money is in your budget, buy it.

Usually, one of two things happens. You decide you really don’t want or need that item or there is something else want more. When that happens, cross off the first item, put the second item on the list, get three prices, and wait 90 days. After 90 days if you still want it and the money is in your budget, buy it. Waiting gives you a better perspective on whether it’s truly worth the money.

The 10-second rule is another way to avoid impulse purchases on small everyday items. Whenever you pick up an item to add to your cart, stop for 10 seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it. Think about whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This practice will keep you from making small impulse buys.

Spend time not money entertaining your children. Most children, especially young ones, can be entertained inexpensively. Play ball in the backyard. Head to the park. Take a walk. Read a story. Play a game. What your children want most of all is your time. You’ll find money in your pocket and joy in your heart when you give them time, not money.

Words can make us change the way we think. “I need” is one of those terms. Do you need it, or do you want it? Discerning the difference between needs and wants is a huge step in controlling money. Spending is not bad, just be clear on the difference between needs and wants.

“I saved” is another of those terms. When we buy something on sale and avoid paying full price, we usually say we saved $xx.00. But unless that money actually went into your savings account, you really did not save it, you avoided spending it. So, when you talk, be sure to note the difference between not spending money and actually saving money

It is so easy to use the words “my” and “mine” when referring to the stuff in our possession. When you say “my car” there is a sense of your personal self-worth tied to that car. So instead say “the car,” not “my car.” Changing the words, you use acknowledges psychologically that the car is an item and it is not tied to you personally.

It’s almost impossible to rent a car, get a hotel room or make online purchases without a credit card. The key to keeping credit card spending under control is to make the cards hard to access. Hide your credit cards in a safe place in your home, don’t keep them in your wallet. Or freeze them in a block of ice.

It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account–just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the online account so it takes time and effort to enter the credit card information.

Simply having a plan goes a long way toward taking action and paying off debts early is one of the surest ways to put money in your pocket over the long run. Make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Keep this reminder in a place where you’ll see it often. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar. It can help keep your eye on the goal and is a good way to involve the family in the effort to pay down debt. 

Take a different route to work, which is powerful if you “automatically” stop to buy something on your commute. Select a different route that doesn’t go by the temptation, even if the new route is a bit longer. The money you save on any unnecessary indulgences will add up over time.

Exercise more. Go for a walk or a jog each evening, practice stretching, or do light muscle exercise at home, which can lead to huge health benefits. Your body and wallet will thank you.

Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Even if you make ten good choices, it’s easy to beat yourself up and feel like a failure over one bad choice. Learn to see past mistakes for what they are–lessons that were meant to teach you something. Sometimes the best life lessons are learned through life experience, good or bad, so embrace your past and don’t run from it.  Promising to do better and setting goals can help keep mistakes where they belong–in the past.

Ask for help and encouragement from your inner circle. When you’re feeling discouraged, sit down and talk to the people you love and care about the most and ask them for help. Tell them that you’re trying to trim your spending and you’d love it if they would offer suggestions and support.

They might have some personal insights for you, and at the very least, the discussion will help them understand your situation better. Remember that there are a lot of people out there fighting the same fight.

Find a Bible verse to support your goal.  There are so many Bible verses that apply to day-to-day life and using one to inspire and motivate you not only helps you reach your goal; it also helps you live your faith on a daily basis. Go to the American Bible Society website search and type in a key word to find your inspiration verse.

And remember to wrap all your good intentions in prayer. Pray for wisdom, for strength for guidance and for perseverance.

The Manage Your Money God’s Way podcast has more on how to change your mindset.

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