Have you ever felt like your finances have gotten totally out of control?
You’re not sure how you got there, but your credit card is maxed, your savings are drained, and none of your bills have been paid.
Oh, and could payday be any further away? When is it, anyways?
If any of this sounds familiar, then congratulations- you’re human.
You have a lot of priorities competing for your attention, and sometimes, money doesn’t make the cut.
The good news is that money doesn’t have a mind of its own (even though it might feel like it sometimes), and you have complete control over what you do with it.
The even better news is that it you only need to give it a bit of your attention to see improvements.
As with many things in life, consistency is key. Big, drastic changes aren’t the only way you can improve your finances.
Instead, it’s the little things you do on a regular basis that can have the biggest impact.
By stopping a few of your current habits, you can keep on top of your money, and put the control back in your hands.
Reaching for a Credit Card for Big Purchases
One of the most impactful ways you can change your relationship with money is to change how you handle big purchases. Consider this to be any purchase that you don’t have the cash on hand for.
It can feel automatic- you want something, you don’t have the money for it, so you put it on your credit card.
Your monthly payment on this card feels manageable, so you won’t feel an immediate impact.
Although you won’t notice anything in the short-term, the long-term effects of this decision are not in your favour.
Your debt load has increased, so now you owe more money than before (it still needs to be paid back). Plus, you’re being charged interest on this amount (generally a high interest rate, too).
A better strategy is to use a sinking fund to make the purchase. A sinking fund is simply a savings account for a planned expense.
When you want to buy something, you will save up the money for it instead.
Then when you have enough money saved, you just buy it- with your own money.
You have not been charged interest, you don’t owe a bunch of money on your credit card, and you will probably feel pretty good about your decision.
Save up for big purchases instead of sticking them on your credit card. It’s not a complicated idea, but I think it’s a profound one.
Not Having a Plan for Payday
Let me say it louder for the people in the back- you need a plan for payday!
You need to ensure you are checking off a few boxes:
-Saving money for the future (check out this guide to saving money if you’re not sure where to start)
-Paying your bills on time
-Leaving enough money in your checking account for everyday purchases like groceries and gas
If money is hitting your account and you’re not immediately putting it in the right places, it might end up in all of the wrong places (and you don’t want your grocery money being spent at the mall).
Making Impulse Purchases
Imagine you have a friend who comes to you for advice. They have no idea why they’re broke- where did all of their money go?
After looking at their bank statement, you find out that every single time they see something they like, they buy it.
Their impulse control is basically non-existent. Whether it’s trinkets for sale by the cashier, an ad on Instagram, or a colorful display at the mall, if they like it, they’re probably going to buy it.
They don’t ask themselves any questions first, and they don’t have a set way to deal with these situations.
It might seem obvious to you that they shouldn’t be doing this. The funny thing is, a lot of us find ourselves doing this exact thing.
As the good friend that you are, you’ll probably tell them that they should have some way to deal with their impulse buying.
Even just $10 a day on little shopping trips adds up to $300 a month.
With the amount of companies competing for our attention these days, it’s hard to avoid impulse buying. Our social media accounts and email inboxes are filled with advertisements and promos.
Companies are clever at getting us to make an impulse buy, too. By telling us we only have an hour to buy something, by offering it at a low price, or by telling us they only have a limited supply on hand, we tend to throw caution to the wind and hit ‘buy now’.
If you want to feel in control of your spending, you need to have a plan of action for these scenarios.
There are some easy ways to handle this:
- Unsubscribing from promotional emails
- Unfollowing accounts on social media that tempt you to buy things
- If you see something you want, always wait 24 hours before you buy it. If a day goes by and you’ve lost interest, you probably didn’t want it that much in the first place.
If it feels like you’ve lost control of your money, the best thing you can do is to hit the brakes on your current habits.
If you’re not feeling good about your money, it’s probably a great time to start handling it differently.
It’s okay to allow yourself the joy of buying what you want.
It’s not okay to let your spending habits run wild. What many people don’t see is the impact these spending habits truly have on their money.
You don’t need to be perfect, but by giving up old habits, you can change your relationship with your money (I believe in you!).