The other day, I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in awhile. She began to tell me that she’s been unemployed for nearly two years.

Never had she imagined facing such hardship in her middle age. She then apologized for cutting the conversation short. She had to get to an appointment – and not just any appointment either. She was scheduled to have her acrylic nail repaired.

Oh mon Dieu!

Manicure

Then again, as outrageous as that might seem, most of us –men and women alike – are guilty of misguided financial priorities. It’s very common to blur the lines between want and need.

There was a time when we’d pour ourselves a coffee from the pot at work. How did daily runs to Starbucks become a norm? I believe it happened the same way that real vacations now mean flying off to a sun destination instead of driving to the cottage.

I chalk it up to Competitive Spending. That is, “keeping up with the Joneses” except that now we’re trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

Somehow, through advertising and “reality” TV shows, we no longer measure our needs and aspirations against the lifestyles of our neighbors. We measure them against those that are both excessive and, often, manufactured.

We need to get real.

According to a recent survey by Canadian Payroll Association:

  • More than one half the employees surveyed reported that it would be difficult to meet financial obligations if their pay cheque was delayed one week.
  • More than a quarter of those surveyed said they probably couldn’t pull together $2,000 over the next month if an emergency expense arose.
  • This is alarming. So, let me offer three suggestions that can help you gain financial control.

Top 3 tips to saving money.

  1. Pay with cash: As reality checks go, there’s just nothing like handing over cold hard cash to pay for what you need. Credit cards are my greatest pet peeve when it comes to easy spending.
  2.  Get off Amazon, avoid malls and scrutinize advertising. Avoid the temptation, as well as the messages, suggesting that what you want is actually what you need. When I Googled “Amazon’s best sellers”, the party game, Cards Against Humanity, comes up at $25 – not including shipping. Does no one play Charades anymore?
  3. Avoid logo wear and “exclusivity”. Do you really need a new fridge or expensive runner’s shorts? Do your kids need the latest Nike apparel? On that note, have you taught your children the value of money?

I’m not suggesting that you stop buying what you need. I am, however, suggesting that you think critically about what’s considered essential. If you don’t reign yourself in now, you may not have enough to cover real living expenses in the future.