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Wise Spending Habits

This article was written by Karen Slunecka, former SDSU Extension Family Resource Management Field Specialist.

Does your paycheck run out before the end of the month? Do you spend more than you earn? Your wants may possibly be getting in the way of your needs. Priorities will need to be set to help manage money. Almost everyone can find some expenses to cut or reduce.

To make the most of your income, planning is essential. Your spending habits influence your ability to achieve financial security. Spending self-control can be developed by forming wise shopping habits. You have to be aware of your spending habits and learn ways to overcome the bad ones and form new and wiser ones. 

To form wise shopping habits you must:

  • Identify spending leaks. You need to track your spending for a month and find where your money goes. For example, do you purchase a bottle of soda every day form the convenience store or vending machine? If so, you could save money by purchasing a case from a discount store and take one to work each day, or better and healthier would be to take a reusable bottle of water to work each day. 
  • Say no to temptations that give you immediate pleasure in order to reach your long term financial goals. This could also be saying no to impulse buying. Postpone a purchase for 24 hours and see if you still want it. 
  • Determine what your leaks are that create bad spending habits. Is it sales, credit cards, discount stores, cash in your pocket, money in the bank, holidays, or stress. Find your trigger and then try to avoid it. 

Here are a few helpful hints to cut your expenses and help stop spending leaks. Think of your own ways that could save you money. 

  • Make a list and stick to it. Do not browse. Buy what is on your list and leave. 
  • Reduce your exposure to things that tempt you to spend. Avoid stores or the areas in them that cause you to overspend. Find other activities to do with friends if you need to. 
  • Limit the number of trips you make to the store. 
  • Find a substitute for shopping. By controlling your environment, you can encourage desirable behavior. 
  • Do not shop when hungry or depressed. This often leads to overspending. 
  • Before you buy something, ask yourself if you need it, or just want it.
  • Learn to say no. Only buy items that are on your spending priority list, and be sure to comparison shop. 

Make some spending rules to follow. Use a spending plan or budget as a guide. Then do not spend more than you can afford. This will all be a gradual process but with some self-control, goals and a plan, you will soon develop wise spending habits.

Related Topics

Family Finances