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Say it with us --

Say it with us -- "I think I can I think I can I think I can – think before I spend!"

With less than 10 days til Christmas, many holiday shoppers may be in a frenzy, trying to complete their wish lists with the little time they have left. For many, that can mean paying a premium price for items they could have received a deal on had they done their shopping just a bit earlier. Of course, there are those last-minute deals, too… so, we digress.

The bottom line is that the holiday season can bring out the big spender in all of us. But, when you’re got a savings plan in mind, there’s got to be a way to avoid those sudden spending splurges, right?

The answer sounds simple; it’s “think before you spend.” But, the action that goes along with that answer is not so easily done. Here are five trick questions to ask yourself before you pull out that credit or debit card to make a purchase this holiday season and beyond:


  1. “How long would I have to work to pay for this?”

    That daily latte; your breakfast sandwich; a long lunch out… the list can go on and on. Impulse buys during the work day are a sure-fire way to deplete any hope for saving money on a budget. If you take a minute to think about how much of your daily or hourly earnings it may take to pay for those purchases, you may think twice about joining your coworkers for that daily grub run. Think “How long would I have to work to pay for this?” before you spend!


  2. “How much does this spending habit cost me in a year’s time?”

    Again, with the coffees, breakfasts and lunches out… did you ever stop to consider how much those daily runs add up to in a year’s time? $3 for coffee here; $5 for breakfast there; $10+ for lunch and we aren’t even going to mention those weekly happy hours! Take a look at a week’s worth of your impulse spending and multiply that number by 52 (the number of weeks in a year). After you recover from the initial shock of that sum… thank “How much does this spending habit cost me in a year’s time?” before you spend again!


  3. Do I really NEED to make this purchase?”

    In the midst of holiday sale season, this is a particularly good (and difficult) trick question to ask yourself before you buy. At this time of year, retailers are slashing prices, so items that may not be necessities - a new pair of boots, the latest techy gadget or another eye-catching “bargain” – can be hard to resist. But, just pausing for a moment to think “Do I really NEED to make this purchase?” before you spend could be all you need to reconsider and resist that spending urge.


  4. “Could I get this for less?”

    This trick question is definitely applicable during the holiday season, but can be carried on throughout the entire year. Right now, retailers are competing big-time to earn your business. So, when you decide that “the purchase” must be made, there is still a second step before you swipe that debit or credit card. Think “Could I get this for less?” before you spend. So, although you’re making a necessary purchase, you are still saving by thinking it through.


  5. “Can I get this for free?”

    What’s better than paying less for something? Paying nothing for something! Along the same lines as trick question #4, when you are seeking out a purchase, think about the possibility of getting it for free. We live in an age where social sites are booming with bargains! Craigslist and Facebook are excellent outlets for finding items that people simply want to offload. So, even when you’re ready to buy, think “Can I get this for free?” before you spend!

When it comes to spending and saving, instead of your mind playing tricks on you, take the reins and ask yourself a few trick questions before you make a purchase – big or small. Whether you’re looking to put a few extra dollars in your pocket each month or saving to buy a car, home or another big ticket item, thinking before spending is a great way to accomplish your financial goals.

This post is sponsored by PA Preferred Mortgage:

Pennsylvania Preferred Mortgage is a full service mortgage banker and is a member of the Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC family. Specializing in residential and refinance loans, Pennsylvania Preferred Mortgage offers a wide range of mortgage products, including fixed and adjustable rate mortgages, jumbo loans, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and renovation financing. Learn more at www.papreferredmortgage.com.