Saving for retirement doesn’t need to be difficult. However, some spending habits can complicate your future finances. To make your retirement savings goals more attainable, take a good look at your recent account statement. How many of your purchases did you actually plan for—and how many are mindless or impulse purchases? Luckily, avoiding impulse buys is easier than you think. Follow these easy steps to help put an end to your excessive spending habits.

Plan ahead before leaving the house.Feeling unsure about what you should purchase can fuel unnecessary spending. If you’re heading to the grocery store, plan your meals ahead of time, make a list of the ingredients you’ll need and stick to it.

Before leaving to shop at the mall, decide which stores you'd like to visit and why to avoid overspending on things you don't need.

Limit the ways you can make purchases. Using cash can seem “guilt-free” since you don’t see the direct deductions come out of your bank account. Try to commit to only using a prepaid card loaded with your weekly budget. You can reload the card with your budget online each week. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to see how much money you’re spending and where, unlike with cash.

Avoid making shopping a hobby. Many use shopping as a stress reliever or a way to relax, also known as “retail therapy.” Remove yourself from the temptation of the mall by finding therapy in other relaxing activities, such as reading a book or going for a walk. Try only allowing yourself to buy in person to avoid getting caught up in the ease of online shopping.

Check in with your emotions at the register. Different emotions can cause different shopping behaviors. It’s said that you shouldn’t grocery shop while hungry—and that same logic applies to any kind of shopping. Hunger can trigger your need for instant satisfaction, leading to more impulse decisions. In addition, when you’re feeling down, you may try to counteract those feelings with the good vibes you get from shopping. Have a snack on-hand just in case you feel rushed while shopping due to hunger. As always, shop with a positive attitude—shopping can be a reward, not a solution!

Calculate the personal cost of an item. If you’re still unsure about a purchase, take a step back and figure out how long it would take you to earn the money you’re considering spending. Take your hourly wage and divide it into the cost of the item. For example, if you wish to purchase a new sweater for $60, but earn $15 per hour, you’d need to work four hours to pay for the sweater. Does it still seem worth it?

Planning for Your Future

Cutting out unnecessary spending can help you ease into saving for retirement. The money you save can be put directly into your future finances. That’s hardly a pointless purchase.

It’s crucial to stay mindful of your purchases to avoid going over budget, and you can even do so from your phone or tablet! In addition to the convenience that Navy Federal’s prepaid cards offer, you can also download the Navy Federal Prepaid mobile app and link your prepaid cards to manage your spending while on the go. You can check your card balance in real time, view transaction history, locate the nearest branch or ATM, and reload the card any time it’s needed.