How to avoid mindless spending when family (friends) come to visit

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We had several family members come into town this past weekend. It was nice to have them here and we avoided a lot of the major family drama that can accompany a visit like this.

One thing I noticed while we went about the weekend’s activities was how little I thought about what things cost. In an effort to make the time a success and create an atmosphere where everyone was enjoying themselves, I spent money without much regard for our budget.

Now, I definitely do not want to lean towards the side of Mr. Scrooge here. I’m all for spending money on others and for entertainment. But, with a plan in mind.

What I was most concerned about during the weekend were the gut feelings I was getting with regard to this “mindless” spending.

So, in an effort to make myself more cognizant of this in the future, I thought I would write this post. It’s really for me – but feel free to apply or use any of my suggestions.

Here are some things I’m going to do in the future – in preparation for family visits and other activities where I might find myself going into “mindless” spending.

  • Plan. This would seem obvious, but I failed to do it. Thinking ahead about the upcoming events / activities is really important. What are you going to do – where you are you going? When you plan, make sure you are putting away some extra cash. Things will probably cost more than you think, so pad your savings.
  • Develop a trigger. Say you’re walking along in a store, and little 4-year old cousin Billy asks for a new toy. Well, if you are caught up in the moment, you’ll probably say, “sure!”. But, with a trigger, you will think twice. Try and put a flag in your mind about anything related to money and spending. It will be your last “checkpoint” before a decision is made.
  • Use cash. I’m a believer that cash is always harder to spend than swiping the credit card. Use cash to your advantage during this time.
  • Be accountable. Make sure you get your spouse or significant other on the same page as you as the time approaches. It’s so much easier when you are both operating from the same perspective.
  • Stay inside. There’s a lot of activities you can do in-house. Games, eating, talking (might not be good for all families) – are just some of things that will keep you away from spending.
  • Have fun. Don’t get too worried about money. If you’ve set a plan in place and you are comfortable with the amount of money set aside, go enjoy your family/friends! They are important!

Are there things you do to stave off mindless spending?


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