A bad credit score or excessive debt is usually a result of poor spending habits. When you overspend, you develop dangerous money management habits like:
- Taking money from savings.
- Charging purchases to a credit card.
- Paying extra fees or interest due to late or overdue payments.
In the first article of our series, “How to Develop Your Baseline” you took a hard look at your spending and developed financial goals derived from your baseline. The next step in controlling your spending is applying new money habits to your life so that you can set yourself up for success and reach your goals.
What kinds of behaviors cause you to lose sight of your financial goals? Where in your spending reflection did you find you were spending too much? Look at your spending buckets and identify where miscellaneous spending is adding up and stay aware of those weak spots. If you spend more when you have a credit card in your wallet, set a behavioral goal to only carry cash, to avoid overspending what you have. If you usually spend all the cash you carry, switch to a credit card and pay it off every month, no matter what. Bottom line: Be honest with yourself and try your best to stick to your plan.
Lack of tracking is one of the biggest issues when it comes to finding financial balance. Most people don’t know what they spend money on. Set a behavioral goal that will help you track your spending. It’s not enough to simply reflect on bank statements. Write down or record everything you spend money on. Review it and adjust spending activities at the end of each day, week or month.
Stop before you spend
It’s easy to spend money. Targeted marketing coupled with easy access to online shopping mean that the exact products you’re interested in are in front of you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The shoes you want to buy are in your Facebook feed. The electronics you’re interested in are popping up first in your online searches. Payment methods like Apple Pay and PayPal make it easier than ever to buy something with the click of a button. Brands are constantly asking us to spend money. But, it’s important to stop before you spend.
Before you make a purchase:
- Ask yourself, “How does this purchase advance my financial goals?”
- Consider waiting 24 hours and “sleeping on it.”
- Remember: if you can afford it, you can afford to save it.