I don't know about you folks, but I tend to be attracted to/tempted by/purchasing the same things again and again. Long sleeved striped tee shirts, shea butter cream for dry skin, brown loafers, and blank notebooks are among my top repeat offenders. None of these things are major expenses, and with the exception of the skin cream, they are things that I'm considering purchasing at second-hand stores or tag sales, but still....
Since I've adopted the "one in, one out" plan, I've noticed that I'm repeatedly drawn to the same things when I'm out shopping. Now I try to go out shopping as little as possible, and I mostly stick to food stores, but there are times when I actually need something. And these are the times when the many things I don't need come into view as possible life-enriching purchases. Now that I'm committed to "one in, one out," and I hear the siren song of shea butter, I stop and take a mental inventory of my medicine chest -- do I already have some? Yes, well, then no need to buy more.
This new policy (one in, one out) has made a HUGE difference in my shopping habits, as has the envelope system which I adopted last fall. It's funny that by setting up these rules for myself, I've been able to change my behavior. I had been quite willing to change my behavior before, but without these clear rules and systems, it didn't happen, and I had no way to measure my changes/evaluate my behavior. By imposing the envelope system, I stick to my budget very carefully. By imposing the one in, one out rule, I don't bring in (for free or for cost) Stuff that I don't need. And as a corrollary to the envelope system, I now put at least $10 into savings every week. This may seem insignificant to some, but it's $520 more per year than I was saving before, so it's a big deal for me.
I'd love to hear how other DS readers have made lasting behavioral changes in their own spending and saving habits. What worked for you?