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How To Fix Bad Spending Habits

How To Fix Bad Spending Habits

They say it takes 30 days to make a habit of something – whether it’s good or bad. But the good news is it can take as little as 30 days to get OUT of bad habits too, and for some things even less. Many of us have habits that we want to get rid of, but we don’t think we can, we’re not motivated to do anything or we don’t even know where to begin.

Do you have bad spending habits? If you want to break the cycle, commit to doing something about it TODAY and mark on your calendar 30 days from now.
Sketch out a plan made out of little things that you can do this month that will add up to big savings – and a total change of lifestyle! The following are some ideas to get you going.

1. Cut up credit cards. This is almost a textbook answer, but consider it if you tend to be plastic-happy. At the very least, leave it in a drawer or other place for safe keeping for when you really need it but keep it out of your wallet to avoid temptation. You could also give it to your spouse or other person you trust (you must really trust this person) to hide it for you to hold you accountable if you don’t trust yourself to leave it alone.

2. Carry only cash. When you carry cash, you can really curb your spending as A) you will set a limit for what you can spend at any time and
B) you’ll likely carry less money on your person as there’s always a risk of losing your wallet.

3. Write down 5 things under $10 that give you some satisfaction. This could be a special coffee, an iTunes download, a movie rental or discount matinee or even a pair of socks if you’re into fashion. But allow yourself only one item per week as a reward for your discipline the other
6 days on higher ticket items and activities.

4. If you buy lunch at work or on the way home, challenge yourself to bag lunches for 30 days. If time is a problem, you could prepare all your week’s sandwiches on Sunday night, wrap them up and they’re just ready to go each day. You may freeze them if necessary. You could save $200 per month and you’ll probably lose weight too.

5. Add up all the little expenses that you don’t REALLY need – specialty coffees, gum and candies, movie rentals, luxury groceries, magazines, cable and just-for-the-heck of it buys. You may be surprised how much you spend on “little” items. Follow idea #3 and treat yourself to one thing only once per week – you’ll end up choosing the treat that satisfies you most!

6. Look for free entertainment. The library often has free DVD and VHS movie loans, and you can usually keep them longer than your local video store. Or turn off the tube and do something active outside, phone a friend or get involved in an online social network for something that interests you.

7. Enjoy what you have. Do you have a bookshelf of video games or DVDs that you’ve watched only once? Take time to watch them again, play with them again, or if you have no interest in that, sell them second hand. And think twice before you buy that next treasure, remembering that its pleasure won’t last.

8. Carpool. If possible, team up with folks going your way. You’ll save parking, gas and get some social time in too!

9. Put your goal somewhere visible. If it’s your fridge, bathroom or in your car – somewhere you will be able to watch your debt figure shrink or your savings amount grow.

10. Don’t grocery shop when hungry, you’ll likely buy more. If you can leave the kids at home, you’ll also be able to shop freely without the pressure of requests for kid-marketed food items that generally cost more than other items.

11. Shop online. You can often find the things you really need that are big-ticket items for less if you shop around. This also makes you think really hard whether you want to buy something, as sight-unseen purchases carry more risk – you’ll spend less and only take things you’re convinced you want. Plus it forces you to account for a time lag between order and receiving your purchases, so if you can wait for an item, there’s less chance you’re making a gotta-have-it-right-now impulse buy.

12. Probably the most powerful way to curb your spending is to read news about the Third World, watch a World Vision ad or research poverty online.
When you see people made of the same flesh and blood as you living on far, far less (and even smiling) you may feel less inclined to splurge on luxuries and be thankful for the blessings you do have.

About the guest author: Linda Bustos is an Editor with Creditor Web, where you can compare credit card offers, learn about credit management and responsible use of credit cards, and ask questions about personal finance in the debt forum.

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