If investing and saving are the keys to growing wealth, then needless, unbridled spending is the key to forever remaining broke.
Putting money away from our immediate use for future rewards can be tough. There’s no shortage of things we can splurge our money on in the present. Sometimes wants can be extremely tempting, and sometimes real needs do arise. But at the end of the day it’s all about discipline. If we can learn to make do with what we have on hand without digging into what we should be allocating to savings, we’ll be grateful for it in a few decades.
But how do we develop that level of discipline? What does it take to quiet the voice in your head saying “spend, spend, spend!”?
If you’re not used to managing your money closely or living on a budget, doing so won’t be easy at the start. But with the right brain hacks, you can overcome the impulse to buy and put money where you’ll really need it later on.
Limit your Exposure to Ads
One of the reasons we’re often so spend-crazy is because all the media around is drills buying into our minds. Everywhere you look there are advertisements, be it on radio, tv, the internet, or even the billboards on the road when you drive.
There’s nothing wrong with advertisements. They’re how honest people sell products and make a living. But it’s important to understand that they do influence you, even when you’re not aware of it. Limiting your exposure to ads will help reduce spending urges.
Use ad blocking software to keep yourself from seeing ads on the internet. Download your music to avoid being bombarded by ear. And record your shows or watch them on Netflix to avoid seeing ads on TV.
Avoid Going Out Where You’ll Be Tempted to Spend
There are lots of places to go to have fun. The park, a museum, the beach. Avoid outings in which the primary form of enjoyment lies in spending. Especially the mall.
Of course, there’s temptation to spend no matter where you go. But you can take steps to mitigate the danger. If you go to the beach, for instance, take your own food and drinks to avoid spending at a restaurant.
Set Goals and Reward Yourself
One of the best ways to get yourself motivated to not spend is the set specific saving goals. Make sure your goals are focused on real, tangible things you can envision: a new house, a dream vacation to a far-off country.
Even when your goals are less tangible (like having x amount invested by y date), be sure to reward yourself for meeting them. Treat yourself to a nice outing, a meal, or a new set of clothes. Just don’t go overboard with the self-rewarding or you may fall back into the habit of overspending.
It’s easier to stay centered when you have an accountability system in place. Ideally, you should work with others, such as your family members or close friends. Tell them you have certain financial goals and you want their help following up on your progress.
Additionally, you can take advantage of money management apps like Mint.com, which lets you sync your bank accounts and keep track of your gains and losses.
Limit the Cash You Carry
For extreme cases of impulse spending, try limiting your spending capacity when out and about. Do this by keeping only enough money in your debit card to cover automatic transactions like bills (you don’t want to incur overdraft fees). Withdraw the rest and leave it in a safe place at home.
When outside, only take the amount of cash you know you’ll need. This way, you won’t be able to spend on unnecessary stuff even if you want to.
Unwise spending is something we all struggle with, but it’s a fight you can win. With determination and smart maneuvering, you can unleash the frugal money-manager within.