A Conscious Approach to Spending

Michael Laine |

Every day, you drive past the same storefront and glance longingly into the window. Wouldn’t it be nice to just stroll in, hand over your credit card, and walk out with that kitchen appliance, new outfit, or smart gadget you’ve been pining over?

Conscious spending may make it possible for you to do just that. Use this strategy to afford the things you love—without risking overdraft fees, accruing debt, or putting necessary payments at risk.


Embrace expenses

The conscious-spending technique allows you to set aside money for preferred expenses—ranging from everyday purchases to big-ticket items. The trick is to prioritize certain spending areas, then funnel more of your funds into those luxuries. “Conscious spending is all about spending extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t,” Ramit Sethi, author of the best-selling book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, says to CNNHealth. “It’s not about restriction. It’s about being intentional with your money and then spending on the things you love guilt-free.”

Shopping without guilt may only feel possible when you have extra disposable income or choose not to give your finances much thought, but conscious spending doesn’t give you permission to ignore budgeting. Rather, it creates space for your favorite spending categories using the “penny saved is a penny earned” technique. In other words, instead of spending evenly across categories A, B, and C, you increase your budget for A by slashing the ones for B and C.

The tickets example

Consider this demonstration of conscious spending in action: Say that you’re passionate about live music events like concerts and festivals and decide that you want to attend as many as possible this year. But to be able to spend hundreds of dollars to see your favorite artists, you will likely need to spend less money on other entertainment, including movie tickets and happy hours. Concerts may even deplete your “fun money” budget altogether, depending on your income. If you’re a fan of live music, though, consciously spending your money on these costs—and making them your primary entertainment expenses—may be a worthy lifestyle swap.

Of course, a budget for tickets won’t account for related expenses, like food at the event, merchandise, and travel. So if you focus your conscious spending solely on purchasing tickets, you may have to say no to buying a band T-shirt, grabbing concessions, or traveling to concerts outside of your city.

Think about your spending

Conscious spending is just that—conscious. Unlike unconscious spending, which is indulging carelessly without noticing how costs add up, this budget strategy invites you to carefully review how you spend your money and identify any unnecessary or nonpriority spending. Armed with a greater financial awareness, you can then buy what you want without guilt. For example, the average American spends $152.51 on food deliveries per month, according to a 2022 survey by delivery software company Circuit.

The conscious-spending plan encourages you to think, What could I do with that $150-plus every month instead?

Asking yourself these questions can challenge you to adjust your spending so it better reflects what’s important to you. This will make managing your money far more exciting and rewarding than merely dropping numbers into a spreadsheet. Imagine how happy you’ll be when you can finally afford an expense like a new sofa or a stylish pair of shoes.

Practice fiscal wisdom

Keep in mind that conscious spending isn’t a comprehensive budget plan but rather a spending plan. While a budget is designed to help you track money as it comes in, manage necessary expenses, and build savings, this strategy is primarily focused on what you purchase. In other words, it’s not a replacement for a more comprehensive budgeting tactic, nor can it help you build savings or wealth to reach long-term goals such as buying a house.

When practicing this spending technique, you should also continue to rely on the usual financial wisdom: transfer 10 percent of your income each month to savings and prioritize using extra cash to pay down debts. And, naturally, the best way to increase your monthly spending cap is to increase your income, though that isn’t always easy. In the meantime, shifting your spending is the perfect way to control and manipulate your finances.

Take it or leave it

Overall, you may decide that conscious spending isn’t for you. If you prefer to live a balanced lifestyle and spread out your spending over a variety of interests, you might choose instead to set a general “spending money” cap for the month based on your projected income minus necessary expenses. That way, you can spend as you like and adapt more readily to unpredictable spending—for example, an invitation to an impromptu dinner.

If you don’t have trust in your willpower to rein in your spending in certain areas, consider using a banking app like Mint, which can track your spending caps in certain categories and alert you if you’re close to or have exceeded these limits. Some banking apps also offer features like low-balance alerts to help spendthrifts rethink their impulse buys.

But if you can trust yourself to adjust your spending and actually follow through on both its freedoms and requisite limitations, conscious spending is an instant way to free up money for what you love. So pull up your streaming services and hit the “cancel” button, then book that plane ticket to your dream destination. The former may be a worthy sacrifice.



This article was prepared by ReminderMedia.

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