Spending must be a conscious activity
What do I mean by that?
Have you ever said the following at the end of the week or month: “Where on earth did my money go?” I know that I’ve said that!
The idea behind conscious spending is to break the habit of spending whenever you ‘feel’ like it.
Emotions have just as much of a role in spending as knowledge does, so getting the emotional side under control will help you put your knowledge to use!
BUT…building self-discipline can be tough, especially when we’re talking about finances.
If you’re trying to control your spending or looking for ways to help you know where your cash is going, explore a few of these ideas to help you to get your budget under control.
You’ve heard of this route before, but may not see its usefulness. If you’re having trouble with overspending in certain areas, try using envelopes for a trial period with certain categories.
For example, your cell phone payment may be automated…no envelope needed. Your grocery bill may fluctuate more than you’d like it to – so set out an envelope.
The same can be done for eating out or entertainment. You don’t need a lot of categories to be successful with envelopes, start small and you’ll see how effective it can be!
2Gift Cards Only
This is similar to the envelope system, but an alternative to carrying cash. If you want to set a limit on gas, groceries, or entertainment, you can use a gift card to control your spending.
It takes a little more involvement, but you can prepay your gas, groceries (if you buy them at a place with gift cards, like WalMart) or entertainment like a movie store.
I’d rather do cash only, but it’s an idea for people who like plastic. Just be careful that you don’t get stuck with any unnecessary fees.
3Limit Trips To The Store
Creating a shopping schedule for groceries, or personal items can help control your spending. Plan out the days you absolutely need to shop and avoid the ‘pick it up after work’ routine. That’s a sure-fire way to forget how much you’re spending on things.
4Write Down Every Purchase
If the small things are breaking your budget, try carrying around a mini notebook and writing down each item you’re purchasing. Coffee here, snack machine there, or whatever it may be – write it down!
It’ll feel like a hassle (good!) and hopefully slow you down to really consider what you’re spending money on.
5Automate The Savings
If you don’t see it, you’re less likely to miss it. Try paying the savings account each month like you would do with a bill.
How you do it will be up to you. Many online banks will set up automated transfers each month. If you cash your checks, put a portion in a jar or envelope marked as savings.
The point is to get into the habit of living on less so that you have room to breathe in your budget.
6Find A Money Buddy
Setting goals with a friend can make saving money easier, especially if you like a challenge. If you really need accountability (and trust the other person), have a bi-weekly or monthly comparison of expenses.
If you don’t want anyone to see your actual expenses, keep it focused on the amount saved. Challenge each other to increase your savings month after month – it’ll naturally cause you to shape up your spending.
7Make a 30 Day Rule
The ultimate discipline for controlling your cash is the ability to say NO, and to let a period of time go by before you commit to the purchase.
This works best with big ticket items like a computer, TV, car, hobby items, or home décor. The main idea is to kick that impulsive buying habit we can all fall prey to.
What ways have you found to be helpful in controlling your cash flow?