Everyday Spending Decisions
Shape Your Financial Future

Answer seven yes or no questions and
get a snapshot of your spending style.

San Diego, CA Many people think of themselves as good spenders because, to them, being a good spender means spending all the money you have. And they are usually broke. More often than not, the really prolific spenders, will borrow more money, in a variety of fashions from credit cards, to auto loans, to a home equity loan, and continue on spending. Americans, of all ages, are responding to about 1500 messages a day, on average, to spend their money. So much so, they just might be the world's best consumers, in addition to being amongst the worst of the savers on this planet.

Not only that, most consumers are over spenders. Some are borrowing more than they earn to pay for things they want. Many more are just simply paying too much for those things, because they have failed to comparison shop. Spending is an everyday issue for most John and Sue Workhards. Decisions to spend or not to spend, coupled with the question of is it affordable, plus other issues, like size and color, are often made on the spot, without concern for getting the best possible value, and the retention of value. Why is getting a good value for your spendable dollars so critical?

Because everyday spending decisions, especially credit based ones, will have a far greater negative effect on your financial future than any investment decision you are likely to ever make.

Some typical spending decisions might be found among the following questions: How often are you dining out? How many times a week do you go to the grocery store? How much did you spend on a wardrobe? How much are you paying in interest charges on credit cards?

The forces in our society are successful at getting us to spend money. Also, many consumers are easy prey for merchants and credit card issuers who go to extraordinary lengths to entice people to spend beyond their incomes by making shameless advertising pitches for indiscriminate, credit based, spendingOther promotions include: no fee and low fee credit cards, instant credit approvals, discounts on a present purchase if you sign up now for a store credit card, sweepstakes and contests where chances of winning are increased with each credit card purchase, extended manufacturers warranty programs, replacement insurance programs and, oh yes of course, cash-back with every purchase.

People have gotten confused about interest. You are supposed to collect it, not pay it! Hello, anybody out there still collecting interest instead of paying it?

It is not just credit-based spending decisions that get people into trouble. Some folks who have either exhausted credit or ruined their credit rating, or never even used credit, still have no trouble overspending. Cash slips through their fingers so fast, that at the end of the day - starting out with $50, they will often have less than $5 remaining end of the day - they will have great difficulty determining just where it was all spent.

Answer seven yes or no "I always" questions and
get a snapshot of your spending style.

1) Always set aside at least ten percent of income for savings and investing using the payroll deduction method.
___Yes ____No ___Sometimes I manage to put some money aside.

2) Always contribute maximum amount to employer sponsored pension plans in order to get the maximum contribution from employer every year.
___Yes ____No ___Contribute some, but not sure if my employer even matches any.

3) Always use manufacturer's and retailer's coupons when possible and send in for rebates.
___Yes ____No ___Use only instant rebates and coupons, otherwise no time to clip them out.

4) Always look over sale flyers and comparison shop before I spend, especially for food.
___Yes ___No ____Occasionally I stop in at a place and I will get the money saving special.

5) Always comparison shop motor vehicle and household insurance policies when they come up for renewal. ___Yes ___No ____Policies automatically renew, never thought to check.

6) Always pay credit and charge card purchases in full when the statement arrives and never pay interest charges or penalty fees of any type.
___Yes ____No ___Sometimes I take up to two, three, six or 12 months to pay off purchases, but never calculated the extra costs.

7) Always keep banking and other receipts, even for smaller purchases, and note on them the details.
___Yes ____No ___My important receipts are on my credit card bills, otherwise, unless I will get reimbursed for the expense by somebody else, I pitch everything else.

Scoring: 100% = 7 yes answers

7 Yes: A wise spender you are and a spender mentor you should become.

6 Yes: You are right up there with the minority, however, how much would the money you could save, in the question you answered no to, be worth in 12 months if you invested it?

5 Yes: Getting close, but no big savings payoff yet because you may still be missing out in the areas of the questions you answered no. If you want your assets to grow, look for saving in every area of your spending.

4 Yes: You are past the half way mark, however, if you do what you have always done, you will always get what you have now. Time to change some spending habits if you want to see a brighter financial future. If credit cards are your bane, try something that will remind you about the dangers of spend, spend, spend, like warning labels and protection sleeves with anti spend messages for your credit/debit cards.*

3 Yes: Get off the money-merry-go-round! You are probably living from paycheck to paycheck or earning upwards to $100,000 a year and have little or nothing to show for it. Poor spending practices must be doing you in. If you need a quick shot in the wallet, the average household spends 30 cents of every take home dollar on household and grocery items. You can make a big impact there the next time you go to the grocery store.

2 Yes: When it comes to saving money, you must stop at nothing. Kick it up a few notches, you will be amazed at the results. You have an obligation to be as good to the person you are going to be in 20, 30 or 40 years as you are to yourself today. Start saving and spending with your future in mind.

0-1 Yes: What is that smell? Smoke from your credit cards being overused? Put them in a glass of water and freeze them solid. If you aren't in credit counseling or bankruptcy court, both could be right around the corner. Outside intervention is what you need now. And start looking for a spender mentor, quick.

The good news is that there is help and opportunity to change things for the better at the nonprofit Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE), a San Diego, CA based group, dedicated to helping people of all ages improve their spending, increase their savings and use credit more wisely. For online help mending spending, visit www.icfe.info. Click on Mending Spending.

For the same information in printed format, please send $1 and a SASE, with 60 cents postage, to: ICFE, Money Helps, PO Box 34070, San Diego, CA 92163-4070

* The ICFE has credit/debit card warning labels and credit/debit card protection sleeves, a/k/a credit card condoms in four versions. They may be viewed at www.icfe.info.