A common problem for every consumer is figuring out how to break bad habits. We all make purchases that empty our wallets and make us scratch our heads down the road. The biggest issue with resolving bad spending habits is the all-or-nothing approach often given in advice columns. You need not live like a hermit while trying to squirrel away change each week. It is important to look at all of your spending habits and behaviors to assess areas of improvement. The best mindset when looking at spending habits is to imagine your bank account filling with additional money with each cost-cutting measure.
Major purchases including cars, homes and real estate can lead people to make strange decisions. You might conduct some research before heading to the dealership or meeting a real estate agent but sales pitches might push you toward a quick decision. A salesman at your local car dealer might not get you to buy a car you don’t want but could push you toward a car loan with unfavorable rates. Your realtor could sell you on a larger condo or home than you will ever need, leading to higher mortgage payments and more expenses in filling the property. You should take a breather between the sales pitch and your final decision to make the right choice for your finances.
The commute to and from work can be wrought with bad spending habits. You may find yourself making a stop at the Starbuck’s on your way to work every day or making stops at convenience stores or fast-food restaurants for quick snacks. This spending habit can be difficult to break because each purchase might only be a few dollars. You should keep receipts for each purchase in your glove box and count up money spent over a typical week. The running total from week to week will show that you have turned occasional treats into an expensive habit.
Grocery stores and big-box retailers place items at checkouts to attract quick sales from waiting customers. These “impulse items” range from inexpensive paperbacks to candy and gum that is relatively inexpensive. Impulse shopping can become an expensive habit if you imagine purchasing an item each time you stop at a gas station, grocery store or retailer. Retailers use these purchases to build up small profits with high-volume transactions while providing products that are often unnecessary. You should keep this sales technique in mind as you ponder picking up a candy bar, soda or magazine while waiting at the checkout.
An effective way to break bad spending habits is to ask if a prospective purchase can be accomplished at home for less money. Your trip to a local restaurant that creates easy-to-make dishes like spaghetti, pizza, and burgers can easily be replicated at home. The costs of purchasing the ingredients for similar dishes are often far less than restaurant bills. You can also plan your trip to a local pizzeria or Chinese restaurant to pick up food while completing errands rather than pay delivery costs. You don’t need to avoid enjoyable meals, purchases and entertainment if you simply reduce unnecessary purchases on a daily or even weekly basis.