This is a free wallet-sized Money Mantra Card. It's designed for you to print, pop in your purse or wallet and whip out before you buy.
One side's for if you're skint, the other if you're not. Flip it over depending on your circumstances, then check EVERY time you shop to see if you should be spending the cash.
How to use the mantras
Anything that checks our impulses can be a kick-butt powerhouse. So before spending, use one of Martin's mantras. If you answer no to anything, don't buy!
Different scenarios require different approaches, so there are two versions: for if you’re skint and if you’re not. Each has questions to ask before you buy.
This goes for bargains in the free weekly email too. This site's about good money management; that should always trump spending impulses. Hopefully the mantras will stop you being tempted into what may indeed be a cracking deal, but one that's wrong for you.
How to assess your answers
Perhaps the most difficult to self-assess is "will I use it?", which examines what economists call 'opportunity cost'. In other words: could you get better use or more pleasure out of the same cash by buying something else?
Could the same money buy other more useful items? The cost-per-wear of a stunning £200 dress for a one-off occasion is £200, but for a £200 winter coat it could easily be 50p or less.
Martin's example: How to tell if it's worth it
My favourite example of this is shopping with a female friend, who hates me telling this story.
She'd spotted two pairs of leather boots and was deliberating between them. I checked prices – one £40, the other £110 – yet she was only concerned with preferred style.
So I whipped £70 cash out and held it up with the £40 pair to show the real decision was one pair of boots plus the cash or just the rival boots alone. She paused and with genuine interest said: "Wow, I've never thought of it like that before."
Five minutes later she bought the more expensive boots – you can't win ‘em all!
Read Martin's blog for more on the site's philosophy and where the mantras came from.
More tricks to stop spending
The mantras are just one way to tame your need-it-now impulses. Whether you need scaring or tips, want mantras or help cutting back, the full Stop Spending guide will assist you in tackling those spending demons.
One of the big problems is that people ask the wrong questions. Too many ask:
How do I get the shiny new car/glamorous holiday/amazing Christmas/designer clothes I want on my paltry salary?
It's thinking this way that leads people to overspend, because they ignore the financial reality. The real question is:
On my paltry salary, what’s the best lifestyle I can possibly have?
You have to start letting your finances rule your lifestyle, not vice versa.
Tips from people who’ve done it include sleeping on a purchase; you may find it doesn’t seem as attractive the next day. If you’re tempted by an impulse buy, work out how long it would take you to earn that money in hours worked. See tons more tips in the full Stop Spending guide.
The Demotivator Calculator
We've created a special fun tool to show you the real impact of discretionary spending. Unfortunately, this doesn't work on mobile, just on desktop, so why don't you just email yourself this guide.
The Demotivator tool: frightening but fun
The Demotivator is a special fun tool designed to complement the full Budget Planner to show you the real impact of discretionary spending.
Simply enter items like cigarettes, daily sandwiches, newspapers and it’ll tell you how much you spend per year, and how long you worked to buy them. Then print out the results and stick it to your wall or fridge as a constant demotivating reminder.