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ways to develop better spending habits

9 Ways To Develop Better Spending Habits

Updated on January 27, 2023

 Personal Finance

Developing good spending habits is essential to achieving financial freedom. However, changing your lifestyle is easier said than done. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days for an action to become a habit. As such, staying focused on your goals and committed to breaking bad patterns is crucial to making better financial decisions. Here are nine easy ways to develop better spending habits that you can begin practicing today.

Create a budget

Writing out your monthly budget will provide you with a physical example of how you plan to accomplish your financial goals. Your budget should prioritize essential payments such as rent and groceries or paying off debt. However, you should also factor in a monthly amount to spend on fun activities such as going to the movies or having drinks with friends. Completely eliminating spending your money on activities you enjoy is unrealistic; such impractical expectations will quickly result in deviations from your budget, which eliminate the purpose of writing a budget in the first place.

Track your spending habits

The only way to know whether or not you’re sticking to your budget is to track your spending habits. By monitoring your expenses, you’ll be able to pinpoint your negative spending patterns and make changes accordingly. For example, you may not realize you’re spending hundreds of dollars while online shopping or by going out to eat each month. Making an effort to track what you spend money on will alert you to these negative habits. An easy way to do this is to use an expense tracking app such as Wally, which provide you with insights into your recent account activity.

Set attainable goals

Developing new habits takes time, and attempting to make too many changes at once may overwhelm and discourage you. Instead, try to set small, attainable goals to accomplish each day, week, or month. These objectives could be as minor as putting five dollars into a savings account each week or choosing to pack your lunch for work instead of eating out. By making these slight changes, you’ll develop better money-saving habits, which will pave the way for making bigger adjustments in the future.

Have someone hold you accountable

Accomplishing your goals is a lot easier when you have someone to hold you accountable when temptations arise. This person should be someone you can trust to be honest and tell you when you’re deviating from your financial goals. You could even choose someone who also wants to develop better spending habits. As budgeting buddies, you’ll be able to share tips and tricks as well as support each other when sticking to your budgets gets difficult. For example, if your buddy has to turn down an invitation to go out for drinks, consider joining them for an in-home movie night instead. When it comes to developing better financial habits, it’s helpful to have at least one friend, family member, or partner who has chosen to live the same lifestyle as you.

Pay with cash instead of credit

It may seem a little old-fashioned, but carrying cash is a great way to stick to your budget. If you’re planning on spending a day at the mall, where there are a lot of opportunities to splurge on unnecessary items, set a spending limit beforehand. Then, leave your credit card at home to ensure that you stick to the limit. By only carrying as much cash as your spending limit allows, you won’t have the option to make an impulse purchase or stray from your budget.

Avoid temptations

Impulse purchases are detrimental to any budget. Thanks to online stores, the road to developing poor spending habits is just a click away. As such, in order to develop better spending habits, you should make an effort to actively avoid temptation, whether that involves spending less time online or steering clear of shopping malls. When it comes to cutting back on unnecessary spending, 'out of sight, out of mind' is the best policy.

Focus on your long-term goals

Maintaining good spending habits is a lot easier when you have a clear vision of your long-term financial goals. Maybe you’re trying to save money so you can finally pay off your debts, kickstart your small business, or go on a big trip around the world. Whatever your ambitions are, reminding yourself of them each time you consider straying from your budget will make you less likely to make unnecessary purchases and fall back into your negative spending patterns.

Prioritize paying off loans

Debt from unpaid loans leads to additional stress and can put a strain on relationships. When you determine your monthly spending, it’s important to get in the habit of prioritizing you loan payments. In doing so, you’ll be able to get out of debt much quicker than if you continued to make the minimum monthly payments. Dedicating a large chunk of your paycheck to paying off your mortgage or title loan isn’t very enjoyable, but it’s essential to achieving financial freedom.

Wait for sales

Waiting for a sale can allow you to purchase the item you covet for a fraction of its original cost. To take full advantage of lower prices, try to keep track of when your favorite stores tend to have the best sales. For example, clothing stores typically offer huge discounts in January because they’re trying to get rid of their winter clothes to make room for their spring collections. Keeping track of these discount trends could easily save you hundreds of dollars over time. Plus, choosing to wait until there’s a sale will also prevent you from making costly impulse purchases.

Changing your lifestyle to align with your financial objectives is not easy—it will take a lot of time, energy, and commitment. However, if you stay focused on your goals and regularly make efforts to break bad spending patterns, these nine easy ways to develop better spending habits will help you along your journey to financial freedom.