8 Bad Spending Habits to Break Right Now
If you’ve read my about page and other posts about budgeting, you’ll know that a big part of my philosophy here at the Pennywise Playbook is that you shouldn’t have to work too hard to save your money.
Instead of going crazy clipping coupons here and there in loads of different sale flyers that change each week, the approach I recommend is to alter your thinking and your habits to literally have a frugal lifestyle become your norm on a daily basis.
It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with spending. Saving our money should be our go-to behaviour, and spending it should be a very conscious decision we make for a specific purpose. Always remember that you work really hard for your money! So why would you not have high standards for what you spend it on?
We’ve all developed bad habits. After 30 years I still occasionally bite my fingernails when I’m nervous, especially when high-stakes hockey goes into overtime! Maybe we’re bad about forgetting to signal when we’re making a turn while driving, or we let dirty dishes stack up in the sink until they’re about to tip over (that’s totally not me, what, no, nuh-uh). Most of us have got a vice or a bad habit. And for many of us, one of these unfortunate habits relates to how we spend our money.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of 8 bad spending habits you should really work at breaking as soon as possible for the good of your financial bottom line. You will be AMAZED at how much money you save and how liberating it feels to be in total control of your spending behaviour! #winningatadulting
1) Impulse buys at the cashier OR elsewhere in the store
I leave my wallet locked in the trunk of my car when I go into a store that I know tempts me, like Ricki’s, Indigo, Forever21, HomeSense, or even the mall. If I see something I really love, I have to actually walk out of the store and back to my car to retrieve my wallet, which gives me a good 5 minutes for a sober second thought to really consider whether I NEED that item. Most times, I give my head a shake and get in the car and drive away. Not only do I save money, but I get to feel good about my self-control over bad spending habits. Try it! I think you’ll agree.
2) Be a buyer, not a shopper
Park close to the store you need to visit, and just walk in and out of that store. ‘Window shopping’ in the mall or strip plaza SO often leads to purchasing, and then to buyer’s regret. If you want to window shop innocently, make sure it really is innocent and leave your wallet in the trunk of your car.
3) Stop buying for convenience
This includes spending habits like buying your lunch instead of packing it, or grocery shopping at a store that’s closer to your house but has much higher prices.
4) Lower your credit limit
If you’re really concerned about your self-control when it comes to spending habits, ask your bank to lower your limit. This is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it shows an incredible amount of self-awareness! <3
5) Don’t cave in to pressure sales
We’ve all experienced it (or had to do it!), especially in clothing stores. This is referred to as ‘upselling’ to get us to buy unnecessary add-ons like a necklace that pairs with the shirt we’re about to buy, or the ‘amazing’ products at the hair salon that will of COURSE make your hair instantly look as good as it did after the professional stylist was finished with it. It can sometimes seem rude or we feel guilty saying no, especially if we know the salesperson is working on commission. But we can’t let our politeness or guilt get in the way of sticking to our own budget’s bottom line.
6) Get over feelings of inferiority
I go into this very real psychological barrier in a lot more detail in my post The Illusion of Wealth. But generally the message is: do not spend your hard-earned money to feel less inferior to anyone or anything. At the end of the day, stuff is just stuff. Instead, focus on the people and moments that really matter to your life. As they say: you can’t take it with you! Not many people lay on their death bed lamenting “I wish I’d had nicer clothes.” Seriously.
7) Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale
Ask yourself: Would I buy it if it wasn’t on sale? For sure this can be a fine line, because stocking up on products you use regularly IS smart when those products are on sale. But buying something just because it’s “such a great deal” isn’t smart. Whether it’s a $3 item at a thrift store or a $30 item at full price, the same philosophy should apply. It’s not necessarily the amount, but the habit that matters here.
8) Unsubscribe from clothing and other store mailing lists
All they’re going to do is tempt you with their sales when you don’t really need the items. I absolutely had this problem with my favourite store a couple of years ago (“But it’s soooooooo prettyyyyyyy! I want it!”) I would try to find a reason to justify the purchase, then be left paying for my lack of self-control – literally – once my credit card bill came in. Often, I ended up cursing myself and returning those clothes to the store for a refund.
What are some of your bad spending habits? Have you ever tried to kick them? What were your strategies or successes? I’d love to hear about your experiences – post in the comments!