When it comes to spending money, everyone has their own weaknesses. You see something you really want to buy, and your mind enters into a tug-of-war. One side of your brain says save. The other says spend. It’s completely natural. And both sides take turns winning over the course of time. But when spending becomes the stronger emotion, a simple mind game can turn self-destructive. If you’re hoping to strengthen the savings muscles in your mind, here are 5 ways you can avoid unnecessary spending.
1. Have a Budget
The basic necessities of modern living include food, shelter, utilities, basic clothing and transportation. Everything else may not be considered a necessity. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend any of your money on things you want. Instead, you should have a budget and plan for all your expenses. Without a budget, you’ll never know what you can and can’t afford. With a budget, your mind is already made up when you encounter those tricky spending dilemmas. Follow the six basics of building a budget and you can eliminate a lot of unnecessary spending.
2. Stop Playing Keep Up
Your neighbors just bought a new TV, so why shouldn’t you have one? Your friend just bought a new car, so you deserve one too. This may seem like a good thought process, but it can quickly lead to your own financial woes. You should always buy things because you can afford them, not because someone else can afford them. That new car and TV might seem appealing, but if you can’t afford them, they won’t be worth the money or the heartache in the long run.
3. Track Your Spending
If your paycheck money always disappears too quickly, it might be time to track your spending. Write down all of your expenses for a month or look at your bank statements to see what you’re really buying. If you’re surprised at the amount of money you spend on anything other than necessities, it may be time to come up with a plan to spend less on things you don’t actually need.
4. Shop with a List
Unnecessary spending usually goes something like this: you go to the store for a new toothbrush, but you end up leaving with a shopping cart full of items you never intended to buy. You’re out $100, but at least you can brush your teeth tonight. It’s the same story at the home improvement store, clothing shop, and wholesale retailer. To avoid unnecessary spending, never go shopping without a list. Write down every item you need to buy, then check your budget and resist the urge to add to your list on the fly. If you want to make a special trip to the store for a toothbrush, write it down and stick to your one-item list.
5. Stop Eating Out
Food is one of the necessities of life. But overpriced, on-the-go food, where you pay primarily for convenience, is completely unnecessary. By making a commitment to eat more dinners at home and pack more lunches for work, you can cut out a significant amount of unnecessary spending. To help with your goal, make a weekly meal plan. This will focus your shopping and lower your overall food costs.
You might be of two minds about some of your purchase decisions. But as long as you work to reign in the part of your brain that really likes to spend, you can save money (and hassle) for your efforts.