If you’re anything like many people, you probably think your ticket to financial security is just a pay rise away.
“If only I earned more money,” you think, “then I could get ahead financially…”
But do you remember the last time you got a wage increase?
Where has that extra cash gone?
We all have bad habits – some big, some small – that can drain our hard-earned money away.
The sooner you learn to identify these and spend within your means, the sooner you’ll be on the path to a prosperous future.
Kick your spontaneous shopping habit
Compulsive shopping is a hard habit to break, but there are some simple things you can do to make it a little less painful.
Unsubscribe from all those emails from your favourite stores, advertising new products or big sales.
Instead of wandering through the shopping centre on your lunch-break, enjoy your food at a local park with a colleague.
And cancel your Afterpay account and return to the old-fashioned way – saving up for something you really want. Often times you’ll find that once you’ve saved the required cash, you realise you don’t really want it that badly after all.
Resist the temptation to 'keep up appearances'
We all like to look presentable and keep up with the latest trends, but chances are it’s costing you a mint.
Take a look at the things you spend money on – clothes, haircuts, nails, etc – and think about how you can save on each of these.
Can you do your nails yourself?
Shop at op shops or hire outfits for special occasions instead of buying?
Have a monthly spa night with your girlfriends and do face masques and mani-pedis with a bottle of wine?
You can still look great on a budget, if you’re smart about it.
Pay with cash — you'll feel the sting!
With “tap and go” technology, it’s so easy to spend up big and barely notice it – until you check your bank balance, that is!
Handing over physical cash is a visual reminder of exactly how much you’re spending, and your empty wallet after a shopping spree will bring you crashing back to reality.
Set yourself a budget for splurge purchases or groceries, withdraw that amount in cash on payday and when it’s gone, that’s it.
You’ll be amazed how much you can save.
Avoid retail therapy: spending as an emotional crutch
Have you ever heard the tip: “Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry?”
Well, here’s a new one for you… “Don’t go shopping at all if you’re sad, stressed, overwhelmed or feeling any other negative emotion!”
That new top or pair of designer shoes isn’t going to solve the issues you’re facing at work, or sort out your relationship dramas, and logically you know this.
But the temptation to fix our emotional problems by buying stuff and enjoying the dopamine hit is strong.
Stay away from the shops when you’re feeling down, and practice real self-care instead.
A walk in nature or stroll along the beach, a relaxing bath with essential oils, or journaling your thoughts are all free, and will no doubt give your mental state a much bigger boost than heading straight for the high street.
Avoid online shopping
Online shopping has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
We can buy items from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of our couch, and the opportunities to rack up debts and overspend are limitless!
Clicking away and entering your credit card or PayPal details, then eagerly awaiting the postman’s arrival with your goodies, is a habit you simply must break.
Put your phone down and pick up a book or your Kindle, or challenge yourself to learn a new skill, like a musical instrument or small.
And repeat after me: online shopping does not count as a hobby!
You want it... but do you need it?
Everyone’s wants and needs are different, but there are some strategies you can implement to help you separate what you really require to get through life from those things that are just nice to have.
Before buying something, ask yourself – did you need it yesterday?
Will you need it next week?
How often will you wear/use it?
That will help you figure out a “cost per wear/use”, and realise that an expensive fry pan you’ll use daily for the next five years is actually way better value than that cheap top you’ll only wear twice.
If you do decide you need the item, can you find a cheaper or more sustainable way of obtaining it?
Borrow from a friend? Hire it?
Go halves with your friend and share the item?
What about a charity shop?
Even if you really need it, you don’t have to pay full price for the best or brand-new version.
Socialising with friends and family is what makes life worthwhile, but it can also send you broke.
The simplest solution to the beast of “FOMO” (Fear of missing out) is to switch from meals out at fancy restaurants to alternating dinner parties at each other’s homes.
BYO bottle of wine and side salad, while the host provides the main meal and another friend dessert, and you’ll have a fantastic evening at a fraction of the price of your usual nights out.
When you really want to splurge for a special occasion, try going for lunch instead of dinner, or even better, coffee and cake – it’s so much cheaper.
Or search online and use Entertainment Book-style vouchers to get a big discount on your meal.
These are just some of the ways you can balance your budget a little more easily and keep your financial situation firmly in the black, rather than living from pay cheque to pay cheque or wondering: where did all my money go… again?!
This could allow to step towards your dreams of investing or property ownership, sooner rather than later.