Are you in danger of the Five Buck Syndrome?

I have talked about the “5 buck syndrome” before, many times. I have written about it and yet, this week, I did a lot of “5 bucking.” From app purchases to the shopping cart at the grocery store to online shopping’s lure of “only $10 more dollars until you qualify for free shipping,” the pull to separate us from that 5 bucks is strong. And yes, I fall prey to it as much as anyone so I write this to remind myself as much as to remind my readers that the phrase “it’s only 5 bucks” is the financial equivalent of a leaky faucet in your bathroom; it doesn’t seem like that little drip can add up to much until you plug the sink and see how fast it fills! You can build up to a $1,000 credit card balance, 5 bucks at time. The cash you had in your wallet on Friday night? It probably drained out 5 or 10 bucks at a time. Think to yourself how often that phrase runs through your mind, “it’s only X bucks.”

Here is a tip for saving that 5 or 10 bucks instead of spending it: keep an envelope in your purse or wallet that says, “it’s only” on the front. For one week, every time the thought, “it’s only x bucks” runs through your mind in relation to spending, put the money in that envelope rather than spending it. If you had planned to “swipe” for it, write the amount on the back of the envelope. Next time you are at Target, Walmart, or the grocery store, count how many the times you think, “it’s only,” as you look at an item and throw it into your cart. This time, put it back and write down that amount on your envelope. Every time. You will be surprised at how many times you discount the spending because the cost is low. You will be surprised at the dollar amount that adds up to in a week!

At the end of the week, move all the money to your savings account. You just created savings for yourself, 5 bucks at a time! Become aware of all those “5 buck moments” and pay attention. Don’t buy something just because it is inexpensive. Try to avoid buying at all! Ask yourself, “do I really need this?” Also start training yourself to recognize that phrase and stop before you just throw it into the cart, swipe your card, or click the buy button. You can get rich 5 bucks at a time; you just need to save that 5 bucks time and time again.

At holiday time, it is especially tempting to add volume to our gift-giving. More presents for the kids to unwrap, more stocking stuffers, more food around the table, more treats to take to the office. This year, treat yourself to that 5 bucks and rest assured that the gifts you’ve picked are enough; the food around the table is enough; and nobody needs more treats at the office!

To your financial (and holiday) success!