How you spend your money is just as important to your financial success as your decision to save or get out of debt. Discover how you can break bad spending habits and create new, healthy ones
Decide which bad spending habits you want to break first
Take a look at your bank account, talk with your spouse, or just look around your house to get a feel for the spending habits you’d like to break. Feel free to start small and select just one or two to address first. A few ideas: spending so much on phone bills, eating out when you have food at home, buying duplicates of items you forgot you already own, shopping impulsively online, shopping sales because you love the thrill of a good deal, etc.
Let’s say you want to stop scrolling through online shopping sites before bed, you’ll do best to replace this bad habit with a good one. You might decide to use a digital alarm clock instead of your phone alarm, so you can leave your phone across the room at night. Now, you can spend 30 minutes reading a juicy novel or helpful book before you hit the lights.
Give yourself a solid reason to spend wisely
Spending or saving makes a lot more sense when you have a target to hit. We do this by following the baby steps. Making money goals and keeping them in mind whenever you swipe your card or hand over cash will put your spending in perspective.
Live on a budget
Creating a plan for your money allows you to prioritise your spending. Put your money goals—perhaps getting out of debt or going on a vacation—at the top of your budget (after giving and necessities, of course). Saving for a family getaway makes it easier to not spend money on frivolous things.
Actively practice gratitude
Take a moment every day to write down or verbally acknowledge the good in your life. After all, there’s so much good. You may not feel ‘too blessed to be stressed’, but a regular reminder of this truth can help curb unnecessary spending. After all, if we can be grateful for what we have, we might just realise how little we really need.
Research before you shop
If you’re in the market to buy a big-ticket item such as a TV or washer and dryer, don’t point at a commercial and say, “I want that one!” Do some research, compare prices, and select a quality model. When you have more information, you can make a better decision.
Avoid your spending triggers
We all have those places or people that make us want to spend a little too much. Maybe it’s the sweet smell of the bakery around the corner, or a friend who tells you how great that purse would look with those shoes in your closet. Limit your contact with those triggers, so you can learn to spend only what you’ve planned to spend. Try walking a different route, so you don’t pass by the bakery. Maybe you can invite your friend to watch movies at home instead of a mall trip.
Find an accountability partner
For married couples, you have a built-in accountability partner in your husband or wife. For singles, your accountability partner could be a trusted family member or a responsible friend. They should be willing to discuss your big money goals and be there to talk through big purchase decisions. Your accountability partner can remind you of what you’re working toward.
Don’t shop while you wait
It’s tempting to browse online shops while you’re sitting in the the waiting room at the doctor’s office. But those small windows of time can open the door to serious spending that can affect your ‘baby step’ progress. If you know you’ll be waiting in line, keep a book or magazine with you to help pass the time.
Ever had buying fever? It’s when you get so excited about something that you buy it without checking to see if you can afford it. Buying in the midst of that fever can lead to a real headache. Instead, take your time and give yourself 24 hours before purchasing. You’ll typically wake up the next day with a little less excitement, which can help you make a more rational buying decision.
Look for savings before you buy
If you regularly shop at a certain store, you probably know when they offer their best deals, so wait to shop then. Check out your supermarket’s weekly sales so you can stock up on the sale items you regularly use. Keep an eye on your favourite clothing store and buy out-of-season coats, shirts and shorts on clearance. Sign up for store email updates or apps and check online for coupons before you purchase. A little work ahead of time goes a long way to saving you a lot of money in the long run!
Make room for fun
Spending should be fun! Instead of pretending that spending money is a bad thing, be intentional about setting aside a chunk of money—big or small—each month. That way you can browse your favourite store, enjoy a date night with your spouse, buy a new tool for the garage, or take advantage of a great deal on Amazon without any guilt. Give yourself permission to spend some money and you won’t be tempted to spend all the money.
Increasing your income and saving money aren’t the only ways to make a difference in your budget. As you can see, how and when you spend makes a huge impact on your ability to achieve your money goals. Now, it’s your turn to start winning with money by establishing some smart spending habits of your own.
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