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Pre-decisions in Spending

401(K) 2012

When it comes to spending, are you in control or out of control?

Well if you tilt towards the out of control camp, you’ve got a lot of company. But the good news is…you can change.

But it won’t be easy. And you likely can’t do it alone.

Some people look at themselves in the mirror and see someone who is out of control, impulsive and just plain messed up when it comes to spending habits.

But it is also possible for that person … the one in the mirror…who WAS out of control to get back in control. That person who WAS impulsive can become deliberate and thoughtful. That person who WAS convinced she could never change CAN change.

For many reasons, some knowable and others not, spending habits and behaviors can be compulsive. And compulsive behaviors may require the professional expertise of a counselor, therapist or medical professional. I am none of those things nor am I suggesting my advice is medical or therapeutic.

Hopefully, there’s grain of common sense in it. Here are a few things you can do.

1. Recruit a friend. You need someone who will not only “hear your confession” of over-spending, but will help you move towards change. As one wise fellow said, if nothing changes, nothing changes. Find a friend will to walk with you through your journey to change.

2. Change your self-talk. Some of us are convinced we are who we are and we can never change. And we keep telling ourselves that. Try monitoring the way you talk about yourself to others…and to yourself. Here’s a way your friend can come in. Tell her you want to change the way you see and talk about yourself, and that she has permission to point out to you every instance in which you say, “I can’t…” or “I’ll never be able to…”

3. Don’t waste failure - learn from it. Failure is not final. In his excellent little book The Ten Second Rule, Clare De Graaf describes the simple power of making post-failure pre-decisions.

That means “…using these times of failure, these times when we’ve been caught flat-footed, as an occasion to learn – and to formulate a specific plan of action for next time. There will be a next time.”

Did you stay up late watch a shopping channel and wake up the next day $500 poorer, owning yet another appliance or garment you really don’t need? Fine. Sorry you messed up, but at least make this “failure” into a learning experience. Get with your friend and decide ahead of time how you will avoid this same mistake again. It may mean getting your cable company to block that kind of channel for you (you never know until you ask).

Check out for tips for overcoming compulsive shopping and spending habits. It has some really creative, yet simple ideas for changing your spending behaviors.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Find that friend. Stop talking down about yourself. And focus not on your failures, but getting it right the next time.

Change is rarely easy. But it is possible.

I believe you can do it.

Do you?

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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