Depending on your upbringing, you may have been taught the value of saving money for a rainy day. Some parents even go as far as finding how to invest their children’s savings to provide a worthy inheritance for their kids’ future.
As helpful as these may be, the essence of being financially healthy is the product of discipline and habit-forming activities. Nobody becomes financially-responsible overnight, but we all have to start somewhere—with the smallest habit-forming routines.
Here are four things you can do today to form responsible spending habits.
1. Spend on what you need, not what you want
It’s easy to set aside money for basic necessities, like rent, food, phone bills, internet connectivity, and basic utilities—such as water and electricity. What it really boils down to is in deciding which of your other expenses can be considered as “luxuries” that can be cut down.
Needless to say, this doesn’t mean living on bare essentials alone! However, you can probably make do without a new pair of shoes every month, nor will you starve by cooking your own food at home instead of ordering takeout and eating out all the time. By finding that balance of need and want, you can integrate basic financial care into your regular spending habits.
2. Keep a record of every single purchase
Seemingly small purchases do end up accumulating over time. Recording every single receipt of purchase will open your eyes to a lot of unnecessary spending that you could be making. Having a list of even the smallest purchase items can help you devise more efficient ways of spending or push you to get rid of it altogether!
3. Treat your savings as bills
Most people receive their paycheck, spend money for their essentials and a few luxuries, and save whatever’s left. While this can seem like a perfectly reasonable strategy, it often doesn’t work. This is because you are treating savings as an afterthought instead of thinking of it as a goal.
It’s much harder to set aside money this way, especially since most tend to think of unspent cash as unallocated resources. Before long, your monthly paycheck is gone, and you may even end up eating through whatever savings you have left.
To avoid this, you should set a clear percentage of your monthly income as savings, and “pay” it the same way you treat your mortgage, rent, and other monthly bills. If you are so inclined, you can do this literally by getting variable life insurance funds or savings bonds.
4. Set long-term goals, but break them down into achievable milestones
Saving up is easier if you have long-term goals to strive for, such as saving for a new house, car, or an out of the country trip. This way, you have a clear goal in mind, allowing you to avoid the temptation to splurge on items that you don’t really need.
However, if you’re the type who has trouble keeping up with long-term goals, then you can break them down into more achievable monthly milestones! This way, the amount you need to save up doesn’t feel overwhelming, and can even feel a bit more manageable.
Nobody wants to work forever, so it’s best to start saving as early as you can! But as you already know, saving is easier said than done. Aside from the constantly rising cost of living, we all strive for some luxury in life. While it’s no sin to live a little every now and then, it’s always best to focus on the big picture and have something left for any rainy days ahead.
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