It may seem hard for you to follow these rules, but it's not. Sure, you’ll have to introduce some changes in your lifestyle, and maybe give up a couple of things, but it’s for a good reason. Embrace these 7 habits and soon you'll have no more money problems.
1. Spending Log
The first, and the most important, healthy spending habit is to start a spending log. It can be on paper, on your computer, or even on your smart phone, but it absolutely has to exist.
Every single dollar that you spend needs to be noted in your spending log. Take a good look at it, at the end of the month, and don’t be surprised to see that you could spend less way less with a bit of effort. Keeping track of your spending is a great habit for your wallets' health.
The problem? Most people do it for a few days and then forget about it. If you're one of them – you'll never make it financially. Being persistent is a key success factor in life, and in saving money. Laziness is among the top reasons people have spending problems. Don't be one of them.
Track your spending for at least a month. Set a goal and achieve it.
You don't need fancy tools, a simple notebook and a pen is a enough. If you think technology will make it easier for you to organize your spending – check out Mint.com – it can be very useful to you.
The good thing about having a spending log is that you'll become a conscious shopper. You'll be more aware of what is happening with your money and why.
2. Income Evaluation
Now that you have your spending log in front of you, take a look at your next paycheck. Add the amount of money you spent on rent, bills and food for the last month, and subtract it from the total amount of your paycheck.
The money you’re left with is the money you can use, for things you want. Try to save as much as you can. How? Just don't buy it! Whatever “it” is. Ignore all unplanned expenses. Stop impulse purchasing.
Separate needs from wants. “Do I really need this?” is a question you should ask yourself every time before taking out your wallet. An interesting quote that may help you save more money: The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.
The more you save the more you'll have once the right investment or business opportunity comes along.
3. Pay with Cash
The healthiest spending habit is to cancel your credit cards, forget about checks and pay with cash only. This is the best way to control your expenses, because you see the money you give. When you pay with credit cards and cash, it’s like you’re lending the money from someone else – and loans always costs a lot.
4. Don’t Shop in Convenience Stores
How many times did you think “well, it’s only just this once” and bought something from a convenience store? You may think that it’s not that bad, but you are really throwing your money away.
Convenience stores are, well – convenient, but they are also a lot more expensive. For example, a gallon of milk in a convenience store costs around $4.70, while in a grocery store it costs around $3.00.
You could say that $1.70 difference is not that big, but when you sum it all up – you’re really paying a lot more when you are buying in a convenience store. Drop this habit.
Don't be lazy to plan your purchases or drive/walk a bit further to a less expensive store. I'm not saying you should be cheap, just get smarter with your money. Being frugal pays off in the long run.
5. Easy on Shopping Malls
Yes, girls do love shopping malls, but that’s one really bad financial habit. Malls are designed to take your money, to make you want to spend. I know you can be stronger and resist the temptation.
You don't really need “it.” You just think you do. Needs are a relative thing. Sure, if you have extra money and if you want to treat yourself an expensive present – go do it. But don't make visiting the shopping mall a habit.
Just think about it – there are a bunch of stores and they are all luring you into coming in, and spending your hard-earned money. And then when you get tired you sit down for a coffee, drink, or a meal. And spend even more money. Stay away from malls! They're making the owners rich, not you. There are better ways to kill time.
6. Shop with a Shopping List
You must have heard this advice for the hundredth time. The reason is because it really is a great advice, and a great healthy spending habit. Always carry a shopping list with you.
It goes without saying that the list should be composed only of the things you really need, and that you should stick to it completely. Be a good girl, and don’t spend more than you really have to. Developing the “shopping list habit” alone could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. (always think long term).
You'll also feel a sense of accomplishment every time you leave the store and know that you only bought what you planned to buy. It's a great feeling because it helps you learn that you are able to control your spending, this makes you more confident. It's also crucial that you change your attitude towards spending.
Most people that have unhealthy spending habits constantly remind themselves about it “I'm bad with money,” “I just can't help myself” etc. These are all negative sentences that only add fuel to fire.
You must believe that you are capable of achieving your financial goals. Attitude is what will help you form an iron will when it comes to spending money on things you don't need.
Coming last but not the least, I will always advise anyone to save money. No matter how little you think you earn, you can always set some aside, and save it. And when you’re saving, no amount is small – every dollar counts. One grain won't fill the basket – but it helps.
If it’s easier for you – save for certain things. Save for a holiday, or for a gift for your husband. Surround yourself with things that remind you why you are saving. This will give you the extra strength you need to go on, and not give in.
Set a saving goal, X amount of dollars per week or month that you'll save.
8. Delay it
Another great strategy is to delay the purchase. Just delay it as long as you can. If you want to buy something – wait a day – see if you still want it a day, week or a month later (for more expensive purchases).
This strategy alone can save you a bunch of money in the long run, especially if your biggest outflow is from impulse purchases (find out by tracking your expenses).
So, how do you feel about changing your spending habits into healthier ones? I think it’s worth a try, because the reward is big. So get started, the sooner you start the better! And the sooner you'll be chilling on a beach.
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