Do you feel a twinge of guilt every time you pull out your wallet?
Do you hide shopping bags in the trunk so your spouse won’t see them?
Is your credit card balance growing faster than your kids?!
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are, you’ve got some bad spending habits. They’re nasty, little troublemakers, that’s certain, and they’re far more common than you’d think (it’s hard to spot a problem that nobody wants to talk about!).
The root cause? You spend more than you make! If you’re one of the millions of consumers affected by bad spending habits, there’s hope. Thousands of YNABers have already evicted their bad spending habits with these basic, but powerful, techniques:
Talk Is Cheap.
Yep, a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart is an amazing cure-all, and it’s especially effective for bad spending habits. Bonus: talking isn’t just cheap, it’s free.
If you’re married or otherwise financially partnered, this is a critical first step to regaining control of your money. If you fly solo, find a good friend, mentor or confidant. You might also drop into an online forum, like the YNAB subreddit. Working through your problem with others is healing—you’ll feel better when you’re no longer suffering in silence, and you’ll make room for solutions-seeking conversation. Two heads are better than one, right?
Talking to your spouse can be difficult, especially if they have no idea about your money problems. Be straight-forward, but gentle. And if the situation is solely your responsibility, offer a sincere apology! It may take some time for your partner to process the news and forgive you, but the benefit of being on the same financial page is worth it.
Enlist a List!
Bad spending habits, like all bad habits, are the result of a disconnect: you’re not connecting the dots, on a conscious level, between what you earn and what you buy. Instead, you’re caught up in the moment, in need of—or just excited about—your purchase. Buyer’s remorse pops up to warn you, but it’s easy to rationalize it away as you swipe your card.
Writing down your purchases can help you connect those dots or, in other words, regain awareness. Now, you don’t need to write down every single purchase you make from today until forever … just until the magic happens. As you get used to maintaining a list of everything you buy, you become accountable to yourself. Without really trying, and just by being more aware, you’ll cut back.
This approach won’t solve all of your money problems, but you’ll be amazed at how much it can help. And be strict: write down everything. If you don’t physically pull out a pen and add it to your list on paper, you can’t buy it!
Plan for Success.
There’s no point in stressing out about buying the things you need, like groceries and electricity. In fact, there’s little point to feeling guilty about any purchase. It’s a fact of life that money comes, and money goes. But to get ahead of the game, to live without financial stress, you’ve got to make a plan.
A good plan covers the essentials and makes room for the things that you don’t want to live without. You get to decide exactly what your dollars will do—no more hitting zero and wondering where all of your money went. And it’s positively liberating.
You can probably guess what I’m getting at: you need a budget! Now, you won’t be able to anticipate every purchase ahead of time, but that’s also the reason a good plan budget is so valuable: when unexpected expenses come up, you can move money around (instead of realizing that, oops, there isn’t any!).
Say “Hello” to Good Spending Habits!
Bad spending habits are a serious problem. They can lead to bankruptcy, depression and even destroy marriages. So, take action today! Talk it out, make your list and start a budget. You can even try out YNAB, free, for 34 days.
And don’t give up. No matter how out of control your spending is, you can fix it. Check out some of these amazing financial transformations, and get motivated. If you’re overwhelmed, drop into one of YNAB’s free, online classes. We’ve got the most helpful, friendly teachers around, and they’d love to answer your questions.