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With the constantly rising cost of living, many of us need to take a look at our finances. Shoestring Jane looks at six habits to conquer if you need to save money.
We all develop unhealthy financial habits from time to time. However, with the cost of living increasingly on the up, many of us need to take a long, cold look at where our money is going.
Here are six habits to conquer if you need to save money.
1# Stop making excuses & write a budget
There comes a time when you are struggling with money and debt when you need to look your situation squarely in the eye and stop making excuses. Taking a hard look at your financial position and writing a budget will give you back control and help you deal with debt.
Budgeting isn’t thrilling, and it is tempting to say, ‘I will start next month’ or ‘I haven’t got time to budget’. But consider your end goal. Do you want to save money and take the pressure off your finances? MoneyHelper has a helpful budgeting tool to get you started here.
2# Stop digging your head in the sand
Many people with debts make only the minimum required monthly payments or pretend their debts don’t exist and stop paying them altogether. Your debts will catch up with you eventually, so sticking your head in the sand isn’t an option.
Start by making a list of all of your debts, such as rent arrears, catalogue and store card payments, credit cards, etc. Consider contacting your creditors to see what help they can offer. Read this step-by-step guide to dealing with debt from Citizen’s Advice first. It will help you make a plan to start dealing with debt.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by money worries, so you put off finding a way out of the mire. But you can get help to find a way forward. Check out StepChange, MoneyHelper, or Citizen’s Advice for more advice.
3# Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses
As Dave Ramsey says: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
If that’s what you do and you can’t afford your current lifestyle, you need to make changes. Stop comparing yourself to other people and definitely give up keeping up with the Joneses.
There are many ways to live well for less. You can get some great ideas about how to live more frugally and make the best of your money on my blog Shoestring Cottage.
4# Stop buying so many takeaways
When I was a kid money was tight. Takeaways were a very rare treat. We might go to get Chinese food on someone’s birthday or buy fish and chips on holiday. There weren’t really that many options!
Now you can order a takeout via various apps from a huge selection of cuisines and get it delivered too, so there is a lot more temptation. It is easy to order takeaway food when you are tired or pushed for time, but the cost of doing this regularly can quickly run in hundreds of pounds each month.
This is one spending habit to conquer if you need to save money. Start by deleting apps like Just Eat and Deliveroo and make sure you unsubscribe from marketing emails. You can still have takeout food, but stick to what you can afford and add this to your budget.
I find that having easy things in the freezer helps for those times when you might be tempted by a takeaway, so stock up on a few treats. They will be much cheaper.
5# Stop being aimless with your money
I have already covered the importance of writing a budget, and this will definitely help you to be more organised.
Another way to keep you on track is to feel you are working towards a goal. It might be that paying down debts has to be your number one priority, or you might want to start saving for a home deposit, drop a day at work, buy a new car or top up your pension.
Taking time to think about some financial goals and making a plan to achieve them will focus your attention and stop you frittering your hard-earned cash.
6# Stop impulse shopping
There are so many opportunities to shop nowadays. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your armchair!
I used to advise impulse shoppers to avoid window shopping and not use shopping as a means of entertainment. Now you don’t need to physically be in a shop. You can buy literally anything on your smart phone. The worst times for me are when I am scrolling social media in bed – ads pop up everywhere. It is so tempting! I can purchase a new set of cushions before I have even properly woken up.
Notice what your habits are so that you can be aware of when you are most likely to aimlessly spend. Evaluate each purchase you make. Ask yourself if you really need what you are buying. Do you even really want it? Could you get it cheaper if you shopped around? Could you find it second-hand?
Once you have a product in your virtual shopping basket, try leaving it there for a few hours. You may forget about it altogether or decide you don’t need it after all.
When you do make an online purchase it is easy to find you have signed up for promotional emails and newsletters too. Unsubscribe when this happens to avoid yet more temptation.
Once you get into good financial habits, you will find your attitude towards your money begin to change as you question how you spend, how much you can save and what your goals are for your cash. What habits do you want to conquer to save money?
Photo Credits: Pexels
Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.