Every time I make a budget for myself, I see something I want that does not fit in the budget. One day it could be a pair of shoes. The next day it could be a sweater. The day after that, it may be a video game or something online. I constantly battle with myself on whether I should buy these items when the answer is always no. I used to struggle with this more in the past and would rationalize it by thinking that I would end up spending that money on something silly anyway. This was the wrong way to look at the situation and I ended up spending more money than I should have. Having money does not mean I can afford to buy certain things. I’ve grown financially, but I still have a long way to go. Here are some tips that helped me keep my money.
1. Stop Window Shopping
This is probably the most important item on this list for me. If I go into a store without a list or an item in mind, I am extremely likely to buy multiple things and feel guilty about it later. To save myself this trouble, it’s better for me to not go into the store at all. Being surrounded by so many products makes me think that I need these items. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where it is hard for me to resist temptation.
2. Track Spending
Tracking my spending habits gave me the chance to see exactly how my money is spent. I was able to see that I had spent too much money shopping one month, so I kept that it mind the next month. This month, I spent more money on food than I feel I should have, so next month I will spend more time planning my meals and sticking to a strict food budget. Tracking your spending helps you find your problem areas and work on creating solutions.
3. Money and Friends
Be careful of spending time with people who constantly spend money. If you are trying to save, their spending habits might rub off on you and make you feel that you must keep up. If you think an outing will be too expensive for you, let your friends know that you won’t be able to come. You may be surprised to find that your friends may try to work with you, so you can still be included in future events without going broke.
4. Small purchase + small purchase + small purchase = Big purchase
I learned this lesson the hard way. Several “small” purchases in a day can add up. I remember checking my spending app only to discover that I had spend over $40 a day 4 days in a row. When I thought about what I had bought those days, I realized that I could have spent over $30 over the course of those 4 days. Little purchases may seem little at the time, but they always catch up to you.
5. Money-less Days
One idea that I’m working on is trying to limit the days I spend. My main problem with spending was that I could not leave the house without buying something. My mom gave me some simple advice. She does not spend money if it means she cannot take care of her responsibilities. If a shopping spree means she cannot pay her bills, she doesn’t go on a shopping spree.
I know I have a long way to go financially. I’m nowhere near as secure as I would like to be, but I know that if I implement good habits now, they will stick with me for a long time.