Ways to stop overspending and create better spending habits
Try these simple strategies to help you spend smarter, skip impulse spending and save more.
People might think that when someone gets their first job, a house, or a car, they really set up their financial habits. But it turns out the way we deal with money, both good and bad, starts to take shape a lot earlier than adulthood. According to businessinsider, saving habits start to form around the age of 7. If those young habits and emotions are less than ideal, you may end up with adult-size issues like struggling to pay your bills on time or spending more than you make.
Because good financial habits can take a long time to develop, changing those that are less than ideal may seem difficult — but it's within your grasp. Change takes both a recognition that there's a problem and the creation of a plan to fix it. Here are five bad financial habits that you can change with less effort than you might expect.
Credit card debt
- A real budget. Credit cards can be useful tools for building a credit score and accumulating cash back or travel points for things that would have been purchased anyway. But when there's a carried balance (and, therefore, a high interest rate) and you're spending more than you make, credit card debt can quickly take over.
- A budget calculator is a great basic tool to help you plan and balance monthly needs and income. If it's too difficult to refrain from credit card use, consider cutting them up and relying only on cash and debit cards.
- A paycheck to you. According to Fidelity, it is recommended to set aside 15% of your income for retirement savings, but the average U.S. household in 2020 saved only around 7% of its income.
- Saving is easier if you sock the money away before you even see it. Instead of thinking of savings as losing out on money that could be spent, think of saving as paying yourself — first. Automatically divert a certain amount to a savings account or retirement fund. You won't miss the money if you never see it.
- Build an emergency fund to be prepared in case of a financial disaster. It might take time to reach your savings goal, but it will be worth it in the long run.
- Automatic bill pay. For many, bill paying time equals stress, which in turn causes them to put off the to-do and incur late fees and credit dings. Auto bill pay erases that cycle in one fell swoop.
- Only set up automatic bill pay if there's enough money in your account each month to cover expenses. Otherwise, late fees may get traded for overdraft fees. And continue to check bills each month for accuracy.
- Always use a shopping list, no matter the errand. It helps restrain purchases made on a whim instead of those made with a plan.
- Avoid emotional spending. Give yourself time to calm down before making that purchase.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- The neighbors, the internet, streaming commercials: Constant messages from all sorts of sources help convince people they need what they won't use or can't afford. Instead, set goals and focus them on experiences, not stuff.
- What's your dream vacation? Your ideal retirement age? A side business? When you're actively working toward saving for something concrete, you're less likely to be distracted by things you can't afford.