Developing bad spending habits can be easy. People use credit cards and consistently spend more than they can afford, and there is always something unexpected that seems to get in the way of maintaining a monthly budget. This can make it difficult to save. If you aren’t careful, it can also lead to a growing debt.
While it might be easy to develop poor spending habits, it takes an effort to break them. You need to be mindful and employ tactics that make it possible for you to limit your spending to what is affordable. This can involve anything from purchasing low-cost renters insurance to making your daily coffee at home. For people that are having trouble with managing their budget, here are a few additional tips that can help you get your spending under control.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
People often lose sight of why they are cutting back on spending and making sacrifices. If you have a specific savings goal, it can help to give this objective a prominent place in your daily life.
Food shopping is an essential part of any budget, but the grocery store is filled with little spending traps that are designed to get you to spend more.
One of the easiest ways to overcome these tactics is to write a list before you shop and always stick to it. Only purchase what is on the list and don’t make any detours in the grocery store. If you find yourself thinking about buying something that is not on the list, ask yourself if you need it.
Leave the Credit Cards at Home
All credit card spending should be planned in advance. Before you make a purchase with your credit card, you should determine if you really need the item and whether you can afford to pay it back in a reasonable amount of time.
To avoid impulse spending on your credit cards, it is a good idea to leave them at home when you have no prior plans to use them.
Identify Your Triggers
For many people that have spending problems, the issue is not as simple as poor money management skills. In some cases, there can be a psychological component to spending. Buying things can feel good and can also seem like an excellent way to combat being bored.
If you can identify the emotions and events that trigger poor spending, you can find ways to manage them. One way to do this is to keep a spending journal. Write down how you were feeling and what you were doing every time you spend. If you notice a pattern, it could help you identify your spending triggers.
Track Your Spending
If you don’t know where your money is going, it is going to be next to impossible to get your spending under control. When you can see your spending habits laid out on paper, you will be able to identify the areas where you are coming up short. This will make it much easier to manage your money.
You don’t even need to carry a notebook around to record every little expense; there are several personal finance apps that can help with things like budgeting, saving, and expense tracking.
Think Before You Buy
While you don’t need to mull over every $2 soft drink, you should try to be more conscious about specific types of spending.
When you go to make a purchase that is over a particular dollar value, you should give yourself time to think about it beforehand. Take the time to assess the value of the purchase, whether you need it, and if you can afford it. If the purchase still seems like a good idea 24 hours later, then it is probably a good purchase. The key to this exercise is to be honest with yourself when it comes to your intentions.
Let Yourself Spend
This might seem counterintuitive, but there is a good reason to budget yourself some fun money. If you are constantly depriving yourself, you can experience willpower depletion which could send your budget off track.
When you set your monthly budget, put aside a reasonable amount of money you can afford to spend on whatever you want. It will make it much easier to keep things on track if you allow yourself the occasional reward.
This article was written by Rae Steinbach (@araesininthesun), an editor for Jetty.com. Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University where she earned a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.