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How To Avoid Spending Unnecessarily Plus Other Money Skills You Need To Learn ASAP
Surefire ways to pay off debts and grow your savings
Hustle in your 20’s. Live somewhat comfortably in your 30’s. Begin to enjoy the fruits of your (years of) labor in your 40’s. Grant yourself the luxury of taking it easy in your 50’s. That’s the ideal scenario, at least, for those living in a metropolitan.
As dues you have to pay today that double as gifts you give your future self, the vital part about taking on those late nights at the office, side jobs, weekend gigs or that raise is that everything has to add up. But what if it doesn’t?
Work at a decent-paying job but feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck? Been earning a steady salary but have less than P50,000 in the bank? Going beyond the 9-to-6 but find you’re still spending more than you’re earning?
Signs point to unnecessary spending.
The truth is, however, nobody—and we mean it, nobody—is ever proud or thankful or relieved that they spent on an unnecessary product or service. But somehow, almost everyone is susceptible to this. Blame it on the culture of accumulation or subliminal marketing coupled with in-your-face marketing. Call it the downside of the the “treat yourself!” mindset or the “worry about it tomorrow” attitude. Chalk it up to the “out of sight, out of mind” tendency brought about by powerful shiny plastic (AKA the credit card).
But imagine already being in your 40’s and still hustling. Imagine being 45 and still trying to keep up or worse, make up for lost time. Scary thought, right?
It’s high time, ladies and gents, that we work on those ca$h money skills. It’s high time that we pull up our sleeves and face facts: overspending can be overcome.
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First, identify the seemingly harmless small indulgences that cause overspending.
These are the little things you treat yourself to on a regular basis: the morning stopover at a coffee shop before work, that bottled water at lunch the now seemingly mandatory dessert cup for snacks, the monthly mani-pedi, Sundays at the cinema. Add up these little things and quite obviously they cease to be little.
Here are small adjustments you can make: Brew coffee at home and bring it to work, pack a water canister so you don’t have to buy water at lunch, do your own nails and spring for a Netflix account.
Always use a shopping list and follow it to the letter.
From groceries for your home down to wardrobe needs, this is a simple but efficient way to keep you focused on only the essentials. When it comes to shopping for food products at the grocery store, here’s a great tip: before hitting the supermarket, make sure to get a bite to eat at home. Those who shop while hungry tend to buy more food than needed.
Acknowledge that retail therapy isn’t really therapy.
…until the temporary high wears off and reality hits.
When you wind up anxious about having little money left, is retail therapy still considered a form of therapy? Call this one what it is: an excuse for emotional spending.
Work your way around this by avoiding sales altogether. The moment you see that red sale tag, run. While you’re at it, delete shopping apps on your phone and your email subscriptions to various online retailers. Resist temptation by eliminating things associated with them.
On that note, realize that eating out is a luxury, a want, not a need.
What do you risk losing if don’t go to your favorite restaurant this month? Answer: nothing. In fact, you’ll end up saving a lot of money by doing this. Eating out means not only paying for a meal; it means paying for service, ambiance, the dining experience and other intangible assets. Moreover, stepping into a restaurant leaves you vulnerable to various ploys to get you to overspend:
“[One] Cornell University study explained why restaurants use descriptive language when naming menu items. You guessed it—to get you to spend more. This is exactly what researchers expected to happen, and they confirmed their expectations in a study that spanned six weeks. The researchers changed the names of six menu items in a university cafeteria. For example, simple ‘Chocolate Pudding’ was renamed ‘Satin Chocolate Pudding.’ ‘Seafood Filet’ became ‘Succulent Italian Seafood Filet.’ And ‘Zucchini Cookies’ was changed to ‘Grandma’s Zucchini Cookies.’ Those changes resulted in a 27% increase in quality and a better value. They were also more likely to say they would eat the menu item again within two weeks.” (via thepennyhoarder.com)
Cash, Credit or Debit?
Set up a system for your monetary resources…and then firmly decide not to give your credit card all the attention.
Making cash payments is the way to go if you want to save. This way, you get to see how much you have. Using cash helps you stick to your budget and gives you a better grasp of where your money is going. It’s also by far the easiest monetary resource to keep track of (obviously an empty wallet leaves you no choice but to put a halt on spending). With credit cards, going over-budget is something that is realized too late. And it’s easy to end up spending money you didn’t think you’d have to account for.
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Live on a budget plan created by you specifically for you.
No two lifestyles are ever the same so it follows that the budget plans of two different people can never be identical. Don’t sweat it then if you spend a little more on coffee, for example, compared to your peers. Take the time to really dissect your variable expenses (step 3) and use this opportunity to see which items eat up most of your budget. Is it skincare? Is it that gym membership you don’t use? Lay it all out on the table and reassess the need for each variable expense.
Once you’re through, check out MyDomaine’s “Millennial's Guide to Not Going Broke,” which has a complete step-by-step guide on creating an efficient budget plan.
The secret, however, is to start with step 4 and get rid of the “what’s left” label. Always put your savings aside first and work on your expenses next. In the words of Warren Buffett: “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”
Use the 50/20/30 system.
Begin by calculating your after-tax income. Allot 50% for your monthly salary for the needs (aka the absolute essentials), automatically set aside the 20% for your savings and the remaining 30% for the wants (fun, recreational extras).
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Fine-tune your money-handling skills and start saving today!
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