Five ways to stop yourself spending money
It's so easy to spend more than you can really afford, particularly if you have a taste for the good things in life.
Trying to cut down on your spending can be very hard, though, even if you are really struggling financially. And there are no easy answers. However, follow our five top tips and your spending should be back under control before you know it.
1. Scrutinise your spending
If you really want to stop overspending, then the first step is to work out what you spend your money on, and by how much your outgoings outstrip your income. The best way to do this is to write down everything you earn, and everything you spend, over the course of a year.
It is vital to be honest if you want this to give you an accurate picture of your spending habits. But be prepared for a few shocks on the way - smokers, for example, may be amazed to learn how much their habit costs them over 12 months, while fashion addicts could find how much they really spend on clothes and shoes a life-changing revelation.
2. Know your priorities
Once you know how much money you have available, and how much extra you spend, you will have a good idea of the amount by which you need to cut back to stay within your means. And in order to reduce your spending by this amount, you will inevitably have to work out your priorities - and be prepared to forgo the things that you can do without.
However boring it seems, your first financial priorities should always be your rent or mortgage, household bills and everyday essentials such as food. Once those are covered, though, you can set yourself a budget to spend on the things that give you pleasure, such as holidays or eating out.
3. Sleep on it
One of the most effective ways to stop yourself wasting money on items that seem must haves at the time but do not live up to their initial promise once you get them home is to take the time to really consider whether or not they will enrich your life before buying.
Try to avoid making foolish purchases by setting the rule that you will come back in 24 hours if you still believe that a particular item or service will deliver value for money. You may well find that the majority do not seem nearly as attractive once you have had the time to sleep on it.
4. Work out the true cost to you
If you're tempted by an impulse buy, work out how long it would take you to earn that money in hours worked. So if you get paid £5/hour and it costs £150, that's an extra 36 hours you'll need to work to fund it, taking into account tax.
You could also look at it in terms of the extra days and weeks it will take you to pay off your debts or increase your savings if you decide to splash the cash.
5. Keep your supermarket shopping in hand
One of the best ways to stop spending on non-essentials such as hats and handbags is to avoid the shops selling these goods altogether. However, there's no way out of the weekly or monthly food shop - is there?
Actually, thanks to the advent of online grocery shopping, there is! What's more, it's easier to stick to your budget due to the running total shown, and you won't be tempted by "special offers" or tasty looking treats as you would in the store.
If you do go into a supermarket, make sure you write a list first - and stick to it. And try never to go when you're hungry as this will make all the ready-to-eat items too tempting to ignore.
If you find it impossible to resist temptation, another trick is to only take the cash you absolutely need shopping with you - leaving your cards at home. This way, however tempting an offer is, you'll have to walk away or go without something else to afford it.