[Read: 10 Signs You Shop Too Much.]
We need to recognize why we're doing it, and then we need to deal with whatever that real issue is that you have going on. My husband and I switched from thinking "I deserve it" to telling ourselves, "I work too hard for my money to let it leak out of my life on things that don't matter to me."
Kids can be very expensive. How do you manage their expectations this time of year?
I have younger kids (3 and 5) and I've been able to start them young. One, our kids don't make wish lists. In fact, I said to my husband, "Christmas is not like a restaurant, you don't place an order, these are the eight things I want." We're glad we get gifts, but we don't set up an expectation that you make a wish list and you hope those things come. I don't want to set that precedent for when they're 12 and 13, and the items go from then being $10 each to being $75 each and I can't keep up, so I'm not.
In the middle of November, my kids said they wanted a Dream Lite, which is a popular toy for littler kids. So many parents would have just asked them to put it on the Christmas list and bought it for them. But I wanted them to learn that they have the ability to work for things that they want.
They do not have to be solely dependent on my husband and me to provide the niceties that they want to buy. We told them we would [pay for] half. It was $30, so they had to earn $15. They helped rake leaves, they helped move some landscape rock we had. I found some things with my business, my daughter was able to help me scan in some documents that I needed scanned. They earned like $12.50, and I found a coupon for $5, which covered the remaining part. They were thrilled to bring their coupon and their money and we went to the store and they were able to buy it.
What would you like readers to know about money heading into the New Year?
Financial change is possible, but it's not going to happen by making a New Year's resolution to live on a budget or to stop your morning trips to the coffee shop. Those changes are all focused on external behavior. Lasting change only comes from the inside out. So if you're willing to stop and pay attention to what's happening inside of you related to your money, the behavior that you want to see on the outside will come much more easily.
I'm not saying it's going to be a walk in the park, I'm just saying it will come more easily. I'm proof of it. We've known we should have a budget, we've known we should be setting aside money for Christmas gifts every month of the year. We've known all this but I could never do it. It was once we started to tune in and change our beliefs and our mindsets about money that we were actually able to implement those behaviors that we've longed to do for so many years.