How to Break Bad Spending Habits (and Create Good Ones)

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Managing Your Money
We all have bad spending habits, but they're not going to get us very far in life! If you want to replace bad habits with good ones, these tips are for you.

No one in this whole wide world of ours is immune from some sort of bad money habit. For me, it’s spending at the grocery store. I love to eat and I love food. I like wandering around, looking at all the options available – ready made, ingredients to make something comforting and delicious, or a new dish to try.

I have to summon an iron will every time I go grocery shopping so I don’t walk out with basically all the candy, peanut butter, and sushi the store has to offer.

Whether your bad spending habit comes from a lack of will power or a way to comfort yourself, all bad habits must come to an end. Negative financial habits can have long term repercussions. Breaking them sooner, rather than later, will bring only good things to us all (and our wallets!).

Use A New Reward System

Most of us out there operate on the “gold star” system. Remember back when we were in school and if we did something good, we were given a gold star? We still operate on the same system as adults. Only now we’re in charge of gifting ourselves, and it usually comes in the form of a purchase.

Not only do we gift ourselves something when we’ve done good, we also gift ourselves things when we’ve “survived” something. Tough day at the office? How about a dinner out as a prize for making it through? First day of a new job? Why not get a coffee on the way in?

Purchases start sneaking in, and they add up. Try using a new rewards system that doesn’t rely on your wallet.

If you have a tough day at the office, try spending a little extra time on your favorite website when you get home. If you know before heading into the office that the day will be rough, make yourself a favorite meal the night before and have it at the ready in your fridge. It’s a nice way to treat yo’self without putting the screws to your bank account.

Stop Impulse Buys

Are you a midnight online shopper? Someone who makes big buys under the cover of darkness and wakens the next day to the harsh reality of daylight?

Or are you like me, someone who sees candy while waiting in the checkout line and throws a few on grocery pile just because they’re in my sight range. (They add up!)

Maybe you go weak at the sight of a new something through a shop window and just has to have it in the moment.

To stop impulse purchases, you have to break out the big guns. Cold turkey is the best way to go in my humble opinion. Stop going to your favorite websites. You can completely block them on your browser to ensure you won’t find your way over there late at night.

Use the self-checkout line at the store where there are no candy shelves. If you go from window shopping to actual shopping super fast, stay away from the boutiques. Instead of strolling down the street with the cute shops, take yourself on a walk through your own neighborhood.

If your neighborhood is less than beautiful, you can head down to the stylish part of town and window shop to your heart’s content – just leave your wallet at home.

Use Debit, Not Credit

It is my firm opinion that we have an over-reliance on credit cards in our society. Most American households carry credit card debt. If you’re using your credit card to finance your bad spending habits, it’s time to stop.

Start carrying only your debit card and leave the credit card alone. Don’t rack up any more spending on credit unless it’s a monthly recurring expense you’ve already budgeted for. If it’s to bring home that new video game, you absolutely don’t need to put it on the credit card.

Debit cards will keep you more honest. There’s only so much money in your checking account, and you won’t be able spend past that without incurring an overdraft fee. Credit cards give you more wiggle room, and wiggle room is not what we want for our bad habits.

It’s important to remember that we all have habits that we have to break. Whether it’s nail biting or overspending, bad habits are bad for a reason. Getting them out of our lives means growth and improvement in the right direction!

What are your bad spending habits? How have you created better financial habits? 

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