6 Quick Tips for Changing Your Spending Habits

by RC on April 20, 2011

In most facets of life, change can be more difficult than you think. We are creatures of habit, and many of our daily routines reinforce who were are as people on a daily basis.

While its not too terribly difficult to realize you need to make changes to your habits, whether they are spending, eating, exercise habits, or other ones, making changes to ingrained habits can be difficult.

Here are 5 quick tips for changing your spending habits to help you spend less and keep more  money in your wallet.

When it comes to spending less money, your financial habits can definitely drag you down. Small amounts of money spent unconsciously or without really thinking over time can add up to quite a bit though, so changing them can be a real financial benefit. Here are 5 tips for changing your spending habits.

Change One Spending Habit at a Time-If you have bad spending habits in several aspects of your life, don’t try to change them all at one. For example, if you stop off for a frappucino in the morning, go out to lunch with co-workers, and stop off for a cold one after work frequently, don’t try to cut out everything out at once- you are setting yourself up for failure. Pick one and eliminate it, but try to stick with it before you cut out something else. Changing one habit at a time and sticking with it for a few weeks or even a month will give you a greater chance of success.

Change Up Your Routine- Do you stop off at the mall after work, or somewhere else like a  a bookstore several times a week? Has a after work trip to Whole Foods to figure out what you’re having for dinner become a regular routine? Change it up, find another route home, or plan your meals ahead of time, and avoid the temptation that your normal routine presents.

Examine Your Purchase Carefully Before You Make Them (Spend Consciously)- Try to think before you spend. Do you really need to make the purchase? Or can it wait? Consider putting off the purchase a week or better yet, a month, and if you still want the item, buy it then. Chances are, you may not, and you may even forget about it completely.

Distract Yourself- Sometimes purchase we make aren’t just part of a routine or habit, but simply out of boredom. Either way, if you find something better to do, that costs less or is free, you’ll save a ton of money if it was something you did regularly. Instead of going out after work for dinner or drinks, start exercising after work. Check out books from the library instead of ordering a movie on pay-per view or buying a new video game. Keeping yourself busy with cheaper alternatives can keep you from habitually spending money.

Look for Cheaper Alternatives- Even if you can’t quite give up one of your habits, look for a cheaper alternative. If you go out to lunch everyday, order water instead of a soft drink (soda for some of you, depending where you live). Try to order the cheapest thing on the menu. Pick up a sandwich from Subway instead of going to a sit-down restaurant. Even better, pack a lunch the night before- and make that a habit.

Aren’t quite ready to give up your gym membership (even though you go infrequently) because you are afraid you’ll never exercise at all? Start jogging, walking or biking, or invest a month or two worth of gym fees in some home exercise equipment.

Track What You Spend- As I mentioned above, sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are spending. Track your spending-all of it, down to the penny, for a month or two to see how much you are actually spending. You may be surprised, and it may be enough to motivate you to make changes to your spending habits. Using a budgeting and finance tracking tool such as Mint.com can help you track your finances and see where your money is going.

Spending habits, particularly poor ones, can be broken or changed, but it can be difficult to do so at times. Eliminating even a few of your regular spending habits can make a big difference when it comes to your finances and improve your bottom line quickly though, if you do eliminate them.

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