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How to Stop Spending Your Money Mindlessly

by Shawanda Greene

Last Saturday, I attended The Day of Foster.ly - an all day expo designed for metro DC area entrepreneurs.

The organizers said the event was open to everyone, but most of the attendees were software developers, founders of tech start ups or aspiring founders of tech start ups.

Despite the fact that I was the only personal finance blogger present, I learned a lot, had a great time and met some pretty interesting people.

Since I wasn’t there to pitch any products or seduce an unsuspecting developer into cofounding the next Mint.com with me, my job was simple:

1. Look presentable. 

The night before, my tresses were washed, conditioned, and styled. (OMG. You should’ve seen my hair the day prior to the event. It was so nasty.)

2. Engage others.

For someone who doesn’t like people all that much, I’m quite personable. I don’t have a problem talking to strangers, so there was nothing for me to do here except show up.

3. Have my business cards ready in case anyone asked.

Now we’ve got problems.

Business cards? I had them. But I began to realize the Ziploc bag I used to store my business cards was a wholly unacceptable solution for a professional of my caliber.

On the morning of The Day of Foster.ly, I drove to Staples in search of a business card holder. For some reason, I envisioned a sexy, sleek, stainless steel case that I’d whip out whenever I heard the question, “Do you have a business card?”

Well, Staples didn’t have that. What they had was a black, faux leather contraption that resembled a man’s wallet. Uh, no thanksss.

So what was my solution?

I simply put my business cards in a pocket on the side of my bag. There, they were easily accessible and safe from the other crap jostling around in my purse. That’s it. I saved enough cash to buy two glasses of wine and leave the bartender a tip.

Why didn’t I think of this option before? It worked. And I’m pretty sure no one noticed which hat I pulled my business cards out of.

If I paid more attention to the non-monetary alternatives, I would’ve remembered I left TWO business card holders in an old purse.  Both are sitting in my closet as we speak. There’s also a pocket in my laptop case that I could’ve used.

This got me to thinking. What would you do to solve a problem if money couldn’t fix it?

I didn’t have the time or the desire to go hunting for a business card holder. My energy was better spent networking with like minded entrepreneurs. So I went for the free and quick fix.

How much money would you save if you simply asked yourself, “If I can’t purchase the item I want, what will I do next?”

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

addvodka May 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I keep my business cards in my wallet but that's not necessarily the best place for them. I'd probably save a lot of money asking myself that question!

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM

You should see my wallet. That thing is barely safe for credit cards. I used to have one that was so stuffed with papers it couldn't even close. It stayed open like a book.

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Frugal Portland May 16, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Oh man can you imagine how much you would have saved in your life if your errands weren't classified as "I need to go by xyz"… it's a little sickening.

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:19 AM

I can imagine it, and it makes me sick. The first few years of my professional career, I wasted a lot of money buying stuff I thought I needed and already had.

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Anthony Thompson May 16, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I have a nice gold-plated business card holder that I received for free at a real estate sales event that I attended years ago. It's sleek and beautiful. and it does the job.
My recent post Self Manager – How to Get Your Online Business Off and Running

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shopping2saving May 16, 2012 at 1:55 PM

That's a good question. I'm always on the "hunt" for something if it is needed. There are some times when I just get so frustrated that I will give up, and I'll feel better that no money was spent. I'll have to keep asking myself this question when I'm in the middle of that hunt haha.
My recent post How To Tell If You Are a Shopaholic

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:28 AM

I'm currently on the hunt for a manicure kit. I can either pay someone to do my manicure (yeah, that ain't happening), do it myself, or walk around with jacked up fingernails. Haven't decided which option I'm going to live with yet.

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@prairieecothrif May 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM

I have carried around business cards in my wallet for years and they have gotten a lot of use. I give them out lots.

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:30 AM

If I left my business cars in my wallet, I'm sure they'd look terrible. The best option I have now, is to keep them in the Ziploc bag until I have to attend an event where I'll need them. Then, I'll move the business cards to a location in my purse that's not so ridiculous.

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Lance@MoneyLife&More May 16, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Good job on skipping the specific holder. I keep mine in my wallet but I don't think most people care where you keep them as long as it in't unprofessional.
My recent post Rental Property – The Decision (Part 3)

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM

Yeah. I don't remember where anyone else kept their business cards. As far as I know, the business card just appeared in thin air after snapping their fingers.

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eemusings May 16, 2012 at 8:39 PM

I have a small side pocket on the outside of my handbag where I keep my business cards (along with lip gloss and a few other things…)

I can't say I've ever been a mindless spender, though. I agonise over even the smallest of purchases.

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:37 AM

Ha! Speaking of lip gloss. I bought a beautiful blackberry, Stila lip glaze the day before the event. I didn't want to go bare lipped.

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mycanuckbuck May 16, 2012 at 9:44 PM

I don't even have up to date business cards. Got them when I was unemployed a while back, but the phone number on them is now out of dae of course..
My recent post Do you have any “missing” money?

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:38 AM

I'd like to get business cards with my new logo on them, but now that we're having this conversation, I may just wait until I use all the old ones. They're fine for now.

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AverageJoe May 16, 2012 at 10:59 PM

It's funny. This post cost me money. I thought "I don't have business cards!" Now I have to think "what will I do if I can't get business cards?"

Tattoo!
My recent post High Yield vs. Other Investing Categories in Pretty Pictures

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Shawanda May 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM

LOL! If I don't have business cards, I just ask people for their Twitter handle or I jot down their name in my phone so that I can connect with them on LinkedIn OR I get their business card and follow up with them some other way.See. You barely have to spend any money at all.

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URFinanceSimple May 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Damn what a great question. Hmm.. I'm not sure I would save much money if I couldn't buy the solution to certain things. I value time > money. For example, our dishwasher went out one day and I could either replace it myself or hire a pro. After some quick research and tinkering I estimated it would take me 5 hours to get the job done. A pro on the other hand only cost 99 bucks and took 45 minutes.

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Carly June 11, 2012 at 1:34 AM

I order my business cards from moo.com and have a little hot pink plastic holder for them that I also bought from moo.com Its super tiny so I just leave it in my purse all the time. The bigger question, though, of how much money would I have saved over time if I had not been able to purchase stuff? .. I hate to think!
My recent post Could you go a month without buying yourself anything?

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