Swipe – Go – Not Know

By Melissa Tosetti

You walk out of the store with your newly purchased item, thinking about everything you need to do when you get home.  Suddenly you realize that you have absolutely no idea how much money you just spent.

Once again, you stood at the checkout counter, mindlessly swiped your card, grabbed your items and walked out the door.  Swipe – Go – Not Know.

I confess it’s something that happens to me at least every six weeks – and mindful spending is what I teach for a living!  I can only imagine how often it would happen if I did something different for a living.

Why is this experience so common?  I believe there are two reasons in particular:

  1. To purchase an item, all you have to do is swipe or insert your card into the reader. That’s it.  Muscle memory takes care of the task.  You don’t have to think about pulling a certain amount of cash out of your wallet or write the amount out in the form of a check.
  1. We’re so freakin’ busy!

I hear myself say at least once a day to clients or financial advisors that I believe the advances in banking and technology have done more harm to the individual than good.  It has distanced us from our money, allowing it to move in so many different directions, through so many types of currency and all at lightning speed.

While it may seem like an occasional slip of the mind, if this happens more than once a week, how much do you think you’re spending on things that are not moving you toward your ultimate goals? If we’re not conscious of our spending, we can’t make adjustments.

So, how do you stop this from happening?

You need to identify a tool that, at the moment you’re going to make your purchase, will simply trigger you to pay attention.  To give you one last chance to think about that purchase and whether or not you really want to make it.

It’s important to find a tool that will work for you.

When I’m trying to be mindful to save for something in particular, I put a picture of that item or a Post-It® in my wallet.  It reminds me to spend smart so I can save for what I truly want.  It may sound a little silly and elementary, but it works.

While writing this article, I’ve decided that I need to use that same tool to keep me mindful every day of the year. As my colleague Kevin Gibbons suggests, I’m going to pick a particular short-term goal and once I achieve it, change the note or picture in my wallet to the next goal.  This will ensure the reminder stays fresh and doesn’t fade into the background.

I’m going to start by posting a photo of Lake Tahoe which we’ll be visiting in June.  When we get back from our trip, I’ll find a photo of Chinatown in San Francisco in anticipation of the day trip we have planned during summer break, and so on.

I’ll keep you posted about my progress.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear what note you’re putting in your wallet.  If you’d like to share, send an email to me at Melissa@TheSavvyLife.com.