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How to Stay on Track During a Spending Lull

There are so many reasons a family may enter a spending lull. A reduction in income, trying to save money, or paying off bills or debt. The latter two are great reasons to cut back. But just because sacrificing is necessary or the right thing to do, it’s never easy. Taking trips, shopping, or even mini indulgences like buying the fancy cheese at the grocery store gives us a little boost of happiness with each swipe. But in the long run, if bad habits take over it’s even harder to overcome change or recover from financial troubles. If you’re in a place where you’re saving every penny, here are a few tips to help you stay on track:

1. Establish new social habits.

Social media ads work, especially during the pandemic when people are connecting more online. If you’re like me it can be fun to scroll through all those social ads on Instagram with new deals or offers, especially when your online search results deliver suggestions based on your current interests. My advice? When you are in a season of saving, just scroll on past those ads. Nothing good will come from extra, unneeded temptation to buy things that aren’t in your budget. And if you think you won’t be affected, you may want to rethink that. Many retailers report purchase conversion success from social ad campaigns. It’s an easy way you can avoid trouble!

2. Fill your time intentionally.

I’ve talked a lot about the value of outdoor recreational activities during this time. It’s one of the safest and most affordable ways to save money. Many of us have empty weekends and time to fill for the first time in years. Rather than hopping online to scan for shopping deals, fill your free time with walks, bike rides and trail explorations. It’s good for the mind, body, and spirit! And even better, it will distract you from boredom and thinking about all the projects and “stuff” you could be buying to fill the void.

3. Practice happiness for others.

So many studies show that social media causes jealousy and drives mental health issues. One reported reason is our natural tendency to compare. It’s both a blessing and a curse, as sometimes healthy competition is a motivator. But when money is tight, it can be hard to avoid the unhealthy kind. When friends showcase their favorite new takeout find, impromptu travel spot, or online shopping score, the green monster can come sneaking in. Rather than focusing on how you are different, celebrate that they are in a moment in life where spending is possible. And, know you will again be in that position one day too. Intentionally ‘like’ or comment on their posts and encourage them to live their best lives while you do what’s best for you. It’s good for the soul! You’ll notice right away that it’s possible to be happy for others and anxious for yourself at the same time, and that’s ok. After all, you’re striving for a goal that few take on, and there’s a reason for that. It’s hard, but nothing awesome in life comes without sacrifice.

If this topic hits a nerve, just remember two things. One, you’re not alone. And two, everything in life is temporary. If you’re sacrificing, whether intentionally or not, just remember one day you will come out of this on the other side being so much better for it.

Kat’s Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.

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