Almost all of us are guilty of buying that sweater we didn't really need, or eating at that restaurant we really couldn't afford. Aside from our frugal friends (whom we secretly envy), making poor decisions with our money can be a difficult habit to break. Luckily, we have put together some of our own tried and tested tips to keep both you, and your pocket book happy.
One of the first things you should do is identify the type of poor spending habits you have. Are clothes your weakness? Do you always need the latest tech gadget? Realizing and understanding your own spending habits may not be easy, but it will start you on the road to better money management.
Another thing you can do to bring on some self-realization is to keep all of your receipts and tally up the total at the end of the month. We usually throw them in the garbage after we rip open the packaging, but keeping all of your receipts will give you a unfiltered look at how much you are spending per month. As you put together a savings plan, this will allow you to adjust your spending depending on where you see yourself spending money. It will also help to create small and large savings goals. By establishing a savings goal(s), (ie. a down payment on a house, a trip to Jamaica, or perhaps a new car), you will be less inclined to spend money on things you do not need since you are working to save up for something you do need. Doing this can help instill better money management techniques that are impossible to maintain with a frivolous spending habit.
There is no particular order to the tips we are giving you today but this one is definitely of importance. Whatever you do, do not put it on credit. The old adage is true, if you have to buy it on credit, then you probably can't afford it in the first place! You may think that you can pay off the purchase with your next paycheck, but that will reduce the amount you can put towards other bills and expenditures. Try setting a lower limit on your card and using it exclusively for emergency purposes. If your house requires a new roof, putting it on credit may be your only option. But if you need those new shoes, saving up or abstaining from the purchase should be your only option.
Similar to creating smaller savings goals, you should regularly put money into a savings account or RRSP. This will take “spending money” out of your pocket, and put it to good use in the future. This will help achieve your savings goals since you will have a centralized place to keep your money (and gain a little interest).
Finally, if the situation is dire, and you have the means to do so, hire a professional. There are several financial planners and counselors who will look at your income/expenditures and provide you with a detailed account of your spending habits. They will be able to reach into your credit history and access information that you may have previously been unaware of. Hopefully this “reality check” will help you break poor spending habits, while giving you the tools and resources to improve them in the future.