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4 Insightful Tips to Control Your Spending Habits

4 Insightful Tips to Control Your Spending Habits

Are you in debt? Are you always struggling to save money for the things you really want? Well, you’re not alone, many people all over the world are facing the same issues right now. No matter how hard they try, it’s never enough.

What’s curious is that even when they get a promotion (and earn more) and come across a big sum of money, they quickly return to the same situation. Why is that? The problem is not how much money you have, it’s your spending habits. It’s easy to think you’ll fix your problems by earning more money, but the truth is that you just have to spend wisely.

It’s easier said than done, I know, but if you’re reading this you’re willing to change and that’s the first step. I wish I could give you a quick, simple and easy solution, but there’s no such thing. It’s hard work, but it’s not impossible.

1. Ask Yourself Why

To be fair, you always should be assessing your purchases, but it’s even more important to do it when you’re about to buy something. You see, impulse can make us do things we’ll regret as we only think about the consequences afterwards.

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When you ask yourself why you’re buying something, you’re immediately reflecting about it. “Why am I buying a new (insert item/experience)?” The majority of the times you won’t find a decent reason for this question.

Why are you buying a new smartphone? Is there something wrong with the one you have right now? Why are you buying a new pair of jeans? Are the old ones broken? Or are you worried about what others might think if you repeat an outfit? Why are you going out (again)? Are you really going to have a nice time or are you afraid of being lonely? And not finding Mr/Miss right?

The point is: once you understand the underlying reason for your spending habits you’ll see that nothing will change by buying something. There are other ways to “solve” your problems without breaking the bank.

2. Have a Budget

Whether you have a daily or weekly budget, it doesn’t matter, as long as you have one. Ideally, you should never go over budget, but if you do, it’s not a problem, as it’s hardly the reason for having one in the first place. When you have a budget you’re forced to think about every purchase you make. So all of a sudden it’s not a matter of choosing, picking, paying and leaving – it’s a decision that’s going to affect something else.

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It’s even better to tie this budget to something that’s meaningful to you. It could be a long due trip to an exotic place, a replacement of the malfunctioning car or to reduce your ever increasing debt. When you start looking at the broad picture, you’ll stop your meaningless purchases in order to keep within budget and achieve whatever your goal is.

3. Don’t Spend Money That’s Not Yours

How many people do you know with massive credit card debts? Or people who ask for a bank loan as soon as they finish paying the last one off? It’s hard to say “no” to money that’s readily available, but it’s a mistake to believe that money is yours.

Credit is great if it’s used with a purpose and a well-defined plan – like starting a business for instance. It’s also a cushion to fall back on in case of an expected emergency. However, if you’re not in dire need, you should never use credit cards and overdrafts frivolously, or you end up paying the (hefty) consequences.

So if you’re getting to the end of the week or month and you feel you might not have enough money for rent, is it wise to buy a new top/t-shirt on your credit card? Shouldn’t you wait until you have the money to pay for it? The concept is simple: if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. The more you get yourself in debt, the harder it is to get out. And when you add up all the money you’re paying in interest throughout the year, you’ll quickly see the problem you have.

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4. Be Willing to Change

One of the main reasons why people carry on with their financial problems is because they don’t want to change their lifestyle. You know that one of the definitions of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

How many times do you eat out a month? How many times do you order a takeaway? Do you know how much money you could save by cooking at home? And before you say you cannot cook, remember that with practice you can achieve (nearly) everything. Do you drive to work? Do you need to? Have you considered selling your car and cycling to work? With services like Uber, Blablacar or Co-wheels/Turo, you’ll always have a car available to you.

People always dread a change of lifestyle; it seems like it’s not only a matter of comfort, but it’s also related to pride. A person might choose to get in debt and go to the gym with their friends, instead of exercising at home and looking like they don’t have money.

At the end of the day, you and you only know the problems you have. If you think your spending habits are not really affecting your life, I suppose there’s not much to worry. However, if it’s getting to a point where if you don’t take action things might start to fall apart, then you have to take it seriously.

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Do you have problems managing your money? Have you found a solution? Share in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla via hd.unsplash.com

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Guilherme Ribeiro

Freelance Writer

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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