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10.04.2015 in Budgeting, Saving Money by Lena Gott 17

Five Words That Will Save You Thousands of Dollars Every Year

I have a habit of attaching catchy phrases to situations in my life where decisions are required. These little phrases help me stay on track without having to over think my decision.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like the feeling of buying something and later realizing it was a waste of money. Truthfully, I regret the small useless purchases as well as the larger ones.

5 words to save money

I look at that $4 I spent unnecessarily at Starbucks and see thousands that I spent the same way over the years because, at the time, $4 didn’t seem like a big deal.  But it really adds up.

What are the 5 Words That Have Saved Me Thousands of Dollars?

When I’m faced with small purchase decisions, I ask myself, “Did I need it yesterday?” It’s easy to remember, simple to use, and 100% effective at keeping me from buying things I don’t need!

How to Implement this Strategy 

1) When faced with a purchase decision at the store, ask yourself, “Did I need it yesterday?”

2) If the answer is no, walk away without regret.

3) If the answer is yes, then ask yourself if you will be getting a good deal and if this is the time to make the purchase.

Whether or not you ultimately end up purchasing the item, you’ll know that you only considered purchasing something you truly needed instead of buying on a whim.

Using “Did I Need It Yesterday” on Different Types of Purchases

With non-grocery items, the answer almost always IS no. ;) At the grocery store, I turn that question into, “Will I use this for a meal this week or next?” And the only way around that answer being No is whether or not I am getting a great deal and adding to my pantry/freezer stockpile.

This tactic can actually help you make a decision to not go to the mall to shop “just because.”  If you can’t think of anything specific you needed yesterday, then the simple solution to save you from spending money unnecessarily is to not go to the mall and do something else with your time. If you were just about to go to the mall, then this tactic just saved you money today!

Do you think this strategy could work for you?  Do you use similar catch phrases to help you stick to your goals?  If so, please share by leaving a comment below!



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This post is included in the Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home-Moms, a collaborative effort by over 50 mom bloggers

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Lena Gott

I'm a CPA turned SAHM of 3 little ones ages 2, 4, and 7. I'm a mommy by day, blogger by night. Join me as I write about fun kids activities, family finances, and losing 50 lbs after baby #3.
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This article has 17 comments
  • This is very profound. We often have a false sense of reality when it comes to what we really need but asking this question exposes that. Great post.

    • Lena 12.10.2012 3:15 AM

      Yes, that’s why this question is 100% effective at making me put whatever it is I’m considering purchasing impulsively back on the shelf. The point is that you’d never put an impulse purchase on your shopping list, so it’s a fail-safe plan!

  • Mandy Knight 14.10.2012 1:48 AM Reply

    I may have to use that approach. I’ve been feeling itchy lately to get a smart phone, but don’t really want the $60/month bill that comes with them :)

    • Lena 14.10.2012 7:01 AM

      Oooh, that’s a tough one. If it’s something you’ve been longing to get, then it’s easy to convince yourself that you actually DID need it yesterday! LOL

      I don’t make many frivolous purchases, but my iPhone (4S with Siri, of course!) is my biggest vice. I justify it by saying it simplifies my life. With 3 kids, I’m constantly pulled in a million directions and solitary computer time is a luxury these days. So I use my iPhone to check my email when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, buy diapers in seconds using the Amazon app, and share photos I just took at the park on Facebook, all without having to sit down in front of my desktop at home. It really does help me claim back my time.

  • Pam@thesavingsblog 06.11.2012 2:36 PM Reply

    This is a very good strategy to save. That five letter word is powerful enough to make you balance things upon making a purchase decision. Great share.

    • Lena 06.11.2012 3:37 PM

      I agree, Pam. As long as you seriously ask yourself that question, it’s all you need to make yourself think twice.

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar 01.12.2012 4:26 AM Reply

    That’s a great saying to think of when you think you need something. I also like the 24 hour rule. Walking away is often enough to make me realize I didn’t need it.

  • Pauline 02.12.2012 3:22 PM Reply

    I agree for most purchases. But did my grandmother need a washing machine? No, she had no idea they existed. With 7 kids I am sure she would have loved one. Most people don’t need smart phones and don’t use 10% of its capacities. I have a $20 phone, but have the ipod to use free wifi, organize lots of things, take picture, make memos… Like my grandma I had no idea I needed it until I saw it.

    • Lena 03.12.2012 5:04 AM

      Good point, Pauline. If you want to take this rule even further, you could add, “Is it a necessity or a want?” to the first question. I am guilty of fantasizing about something so long that I convince myself it’s an actual need and not just a want.

  • Bo 03.12.2012 7:38 PM Reply

    Maybe if the answer to the question “Did I need it yesterday?”, is yes; then we can ask “can I get it used?”. It’s a great way to save money. For example, that “used car” can save you thousands over that brand new spanking set of wheels.

    • Lena 03.12.2012 8:54 PM

      Hi Bo – Perfect…now I will never be able to buy brand new again! ;) But seriously, I think that’s a great follow-up question to ask. The answer will almost always be yes.

  • Kalie 11.03.2015 12:43 PM Reply

    I too hate the feeling of regretting a purchase. This a helpful phrase to try to make better decisions about spending. Sometimes it is so hard to detach emotions from a purchase, no matter how hard I try to wait and be reasonable. And sometimes you just think something will be more useful than it is.

    • Lena Gott 11.03.2015 1:38 PM

      Yes, exactly! I originally started using this phrase when I realized I was constantly feeling guilty about unnecessary purchases. It works like a charm!

  • Brie@toasterovenlove 11.03.2015 3:42 PM Reply

    What a great tip! Impulse purchases (I’m looking at you Target Dollar Spot) are by nature not a purchase made with much thought. I’m going to write this on a post-it and stick it on the credit card in my wallet. Seeing that sentence will help me stop and be thoughtful about what I purchase and bring into my home and keep sale prices or a “good deal” from blinding me.

  • Heather 11.03.2015 11:32 PM Reply

    I actually just heard this in a podcast yesterday and made a note of it! I think it’s a great idea…looking forward to trying it! I think it will help with impulse buys, especially junk food related ones!

  • Rebecca 12.03.2015 8:46 PM Reply

    This is so true. In this instant gratification world, we very often use “need” and “want” interchangeably. It’s amazing how little we really “need” as opposed to what we “want’!

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