Today we have a guest post for you from Timothy Carter. Enjoy!
As we all know, bad spending habits are easy to fall victim to. We go into the grocery store for a few small items and $200 later we come out with a grocery cart full of stuff! Unfortunately having little self control over our spending can be harmful to our finances, especially in the long run. Once we are able to take control of our spending habits and establish a budget, we will see that we have big potential for a bright financial future.
In order to cut out unnecessary spending we need to find out where and what our money is being spent on. Start by recording all of your expenses. There are a few ways you can do this: keep all of your receipts, view your bank account transaction history, or physically write down each item you purchase. I prefer to write everything down as I feel it keeps me more involved and I am able to categorize my expenses. Record every purchase you make, each day for a month in a small notebook.
Since the goal here is to track your spending down to the penny, we need to include each and every purchase, big or small. At the end of the month, we will calculate all of our spending to see where we stand.
If you’re like me, you may find that you spend way more than you realize. I found that I was spending several hundred dollars a month just on caffeine beverages alone, which I would consider to be a bad spending habit.
Once we have added up all of our monthly expenses, we are able to itemize and prioritize. Look at your list and determine which items you would consider to be a non-necessity. For me, a non-necessity item would have been the energy drinks I bought every day. I was spending between $3-$5 a day at the convenient store on Monster and Red Bull. On average, that is $120 a month that I was spending unnecessarily.
Did I quit drinking my caffeine? No. Instead, I decided to make my own coffee at home and save roughly $100 a month (utility bill). I’d call that a small sacrifice with a big reward.
Bad spending habits aren’t going to disappear overnight, but the goal here is to put our expenses in front of us, and to visually see where and what we are spending our money on each month. Take small steps to slowly cut back or eliminate the unnecessary spending.
It’s best to track your spending every few months to see your progress and determine where your money is being allocated.
Now that we have taken a good hard look at our spending habits, and decided what to cut back on, we are ready to take advantage of the savings. Pay off debt or put this money into your savings account. Either way you will be satisfied to know that you aren’t throwing your hard earned money away.
The goal here isn’t to take all of the fun out of life, and be a straight edge penny pincher, but instead to analyze your spending habits and determine what you are able to live without. Getting your bad spending habits under control now will allow you to live more comfortably and will prepare you for the future.
To view more articles written by Timothy Carter, visit his blog at www.WiseMoney.net.