Bad money habits are easy to pick up. Good ones are hard to find. It’s easy to charge everything to your credit card without paying attention to the balance and it is hard to keep track of where every penny goes. Building good habits are important to get you where you want to go. Here are some habits that you can incorporate into your life to help you make better decisions with your money.
- Make specific financial goals and plan for them. If you don’t know where you want to be in 1, 5 or 10 years, and if you don’t know how you plan to get there, you will not make it. Use the time you have to research what you want and the best decisions you can make to get you there. If you want to buy a car next year, start researching the car you want to buy and your best options for purchasing it. Do you have enough time to save enough for it, or do you need to adjust in your spending now so that you can afford it? Making decisions and planning today for the future will help you make better decisions regarding your finances.
- Make saving automatic. Most bank accounts will transfer money from your checking to your savings on a regular basis without you having to do anything. Set it up on a weekly or monthly basis to have money transferred without you having to think about it. Try to set it up the transfer for the same day that you get paid. That way you never see the money in the account for you to spend. Even small amounts will add up. $25 a week over the course of a year will save you $1,300! And you will barely notice it as it is happening but that extra amount in your savings will feel good. Also, if your work offers to, have them automatically deduct some of your paycheck to be set aside in a 401k plan or other retirement savings account. Your future self will thank you!
- Track your cash flow! There is nothing worse than not knowing what money you have and where it is going every month. Just because your card hasn’t been declined this month doesn’t mean you are making good financial choices! If you don’t know where your money is going every month then it likely isn’t going where you want it to. Look over your finances from last month. Did you realize you spent $200 on coffee alone? Maybe you don’t mind spending that much on your morning latte but you should be aware of how you are spending that money.
- Make rules for yourself about spending. And make them specific to you. Do you always overspend on impulsive buys at Target? Then tell yourself that you aren’t allowed to shop there without a specific list you stick to. Do you shop online in the middle of the night? Maybe you need to promise yourself to never spend money after 10pm. Find the triggers in your life that overextend your budget and give yourself rules to avoid them. If you struggle to hold yourself accountable, find a partner that you trust. Be it a sibling, friend, significant other. Tell them what your rules are so that they can call you out when you slip up.
- Impose a 48-hour rule for big purchases. Set a threshold amount, say $200, if you want to purchase something that is over that threshold you need to wait 48 hours before pulling the trigger. Use that time to research the product you want. You might find that it is the best product out there, or you might find out that it fails after only one month of use. Holding off for 48 hours will make you feel more secure in the purchases you do make. If you have waited for the impulse to fade you will find out if you really want the product or not and the research you do will help you make the best decision.
Bonus tip: Unsubscribe from advertising emails! Those daily reminders of what there is out there to buy are not helping you stick to your budget. You don’t even have to wait until they send you an email. The website Unroll.me makes it easy for you. It finds all the lists you are subscribed to and unsubscribes for you.
Make a commitment to your future self with these financial habits. Don’t be like all the people who join the gym on January 1st only to never go again. Incorporate these habits into your daily life. Write down a checklist for how you are going to do to build these habits for yourself and review that list regularly to make sure you are sticking to them. These small changes in your money habits today can help you reach your short term and your long-term goals.