How to avoid spending more than you can afford
Temptations looms everywhere: seeing television ads, Internet ads, or even just visiting at a friend’s house. You see that something that looks good or could just be useful. You know you don’t own one but would like to have one. Yet, you know that you don’t need to keep spending and you want to exert some self-control. Read on, for some ways to control spending.
Budget and stick to it
First of all, you do need to create a budget. Know what you bring in the door after taxes, labor union dues, health insurance deductions, 401k deductions and the like are taken from your paycheck. When it is all said and done, your net pay (after all the above items are taken out) and not your gross pay is what you really have. You do want to write down everything you need to pay for: the mortgage or rent, utilities bills, grocery bills, car or mass transit pass fees, tuition bills, and/or student loans. Next write down what you actually spent on those items. (Note: all of this paperwork can be done in a composition book or if you’re more comfortable find a software budget template from Microsoft Office or Open Office to help stay you on task.)
Lessen discretionary money spending
The bulk of the items mentioned above are usually what you need in order to live and get to work. Yet, it’s the items one doesn’t need that truly causes overspending. So lessen the movies trips, get a cheaper cell phone or cable bill plan (or eliminate using them altogether) dine out less, lessen the trips to the Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or even the neighborhood Wawa.
Window shopping is another habit that results in discretionary money spending. Work at not window shopping just because you’re experiencing an emotional high or low. And if you must get out and get some air, and you find yourself browsing through the mall stores – ask yourself two questions. “Do I need this?” and “Do I need this now?” If you can not answer “yes” to both questions return the item to the shelf.
Once you run out of cash, then there’s nothing left to buy. Leaving the credit cards at home will help eliminate that 2-5 minute talk you can use to convince yourself to buy a product. No money in hand will easily dispel those internal thoughts of “I deserve it”, “I’ve earned it”, or “ It looks so cute”!
Join a swap group
Currently swap groups abound. Search the Internet for groups of people who also want things but know they shouldn’t or don’t want to spend the extra money for them. Sign up on these sites and ask for items that you need. Frequently someone has just that something that you want to try. And since they are on those sites as well, they will let you borrow it or give it to you for free. Try www.freecycle.org or www.BorrowMe.com.