Well, the same is true when we put our spending on a diet. Going cold turkey and depriving ourselves of the little treats and extravagances that make all our hard work worthwhile is just cruel and not something you'll be able to keep up for the long haul. The trick is to find budgetary changes you can stick with.
We all spend unconsciously every day -- a cup of tea here, a pack of gum from the drugstore there. If you add it all up at the end of the week, you might be shocked. Here's an exercise to try: For everything you buy -- everything! -- ask the clerk for a receipt. At the end of the week, add them up. You might decide it's time to put your spending on a diet.
But how do we do that without feeling deprived? Here are 11 painless tricks to slim down your spending and fatten up that savings account.
1. Identify the needs as opposed to the wants. You may want to cut some things out entirely, limit some and find less-expensive ways to have the things you simply can't live without every day.
2. Bring that first cup of java to work, rather than grabbing it on the way, to save anywhere from a buck to six dollars per day, depending on your tastes.
3. An impulse-buy pack of gum can run you two dollars at a convenience store. Instead, buy a bulk pack the next time you do the groceries. You'll save about 40 percent off the retail price -- and never run out again!
4. Not a secondhand Rose? Well, now is the time to learn to love preloved. Start popping into secondhand shops when you get the urge for a little retail therapy. If this is new to you, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the treasures you'll find -- not to mention the prices.
5. Finished with an appliance, sick of your wardrobe? Don't just leave it by the curb. Sell used goods on Craigslist, Kijiji or any of the other free classified sites online. Or wait until summer and hold a garage sale, alone or with your neighbours.
6. Likewise, if you need to make a purchase, before you shop retail, check out the online classifieds for amazing deals. Sure, there is no safety net, but sometimes the deal is worth the gamble.
7. Secondhand shopping can be an adventure. Check online for TV and movie set sales. When a production is over, they sell everything at rock bottom prices and it's a fun way to shop. If you're renovating, visit salvage shops such as Habitat for Humanity's ReStores. There you will find deals such as whole kitchens going for $1,200 or so -- a fraction of what you would pay for new.
8. Do you drive to work every day, spending a fortune on gas and parking? How about finding three other folks to carpool with you and pitch in on the costs? Post a note in your office's lunch room, in your condo's common area or online.
9. Invest in a good water bottle and get off the bottled water addiction. Spend $20 now and in about 10 days or so, it will have paid for itself. Let's say you buy a medium sized bottle every day -- that can add up to $10 to $15 per week, not to mention the unseen impact to your health and the health of the planet.
10. Depending on your family's size, buying a membership in a shopping club, such as Sam's Club or online shopping groups, may make sense. Memberships can be as low as $40 per year and can save you an average of 30 per cent on everything you purchase.
11. I know we've mentioned this before, but it can't hurt to say it again: Click and clip coupons. Visit websites that specialize in couponing or go to your favourite brands' websites to see if they offer any coupons.
Shaving off a little here and a little there really adds up in time. And best of all, you won't feel a thing.