Whether it’s a fancy coffee a few times a week, overspending at the grocery store, or embarking on a retail therapy shopping outing every couple of weeks, for most of us, there’s no end to the opportunities that arise, beckoning for us to spend our hard-earned cash.
The truth is that saving money isn’t exactly exciting, and many of us find it difficult to do so. Maybe the thought of having a budget makes us feel uneasy; as though we’re in a tight spot, and being forced to give up things that we love.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Having a well-balanced financial life doesn’t have to mean doing without things that are important to you, and it isn’t an indicator that you’ve done something wrong. Instead, it means that you’ve got your priorities straight—and know what you want out of life.
If you’d like to get into a savings mindset and start socking away money for the future, here’s a look at a few tips that can help to get your finances on-track!
1. Stop Feeling Guilty
First, in order to truly abandon our spending mindset, it’s important to recognize that we’ve got to let go of any guilt that we feel about our spending. The truth is we all spend money on different things. We each have different areas where we indulge, and areas where we’re able to resist. The important thing is to recognize that spending money isn’t the problem; it’s when spending is done outside of a budget or prevents you from reaching your big-picture goals where the problems arise. We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to others, but the truth is that everyone’s spending varies considerably, what’s right for one person may not be best for someone else. You need to decide for yourself where your money will go.
2. View Budgeting As a Positive Change
While many people take a dim view of a budget, the concept of budgeting doesn’t deserve such a bad rap! Far from being restrictive, having a budget will put you in the driver’s seat. It’ll allow you to take control of your financial situation, and choose exactly where your money goes. If your twice-weekly coffee with friends is important to you, simply factor it in! There’s no need to feel guilty about doing the things you love, and no room for guilt when your spending is intentional and in-line with your budget. For help creating a budget that works, see Tips for Planning the Family Budget.
3. Identify Your Priorities
Before you can start saving money, you should take the time to ask yourself why, exactly, you’re saving. Being able to save is often a matter of priorities, so it’s important to put things in perspective. Identify your savings goals—maybe it’s to pay off debt or to save for a down payment or a car. Or maybe your savings goals are a bit smaller—perhaps you’d like to save up for a remodel or do some traveling. Whatever your priorities are, taking the time to identify and visualize them is important. Once you’ve identified your goals, you’ll be able to put things into perspective and adjust your spending habits. For instance, when you’re tempted to buy that caramel latte, you can be honest with yourself and ask whether that new car or coffee drink is more important.
4. Start Small
Finally, it’s important to have a realistic perspective of your newfound savings plan. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight, and it may take some time to adjust to a new plan. Instead of making big, drastic changes—things that might sound grand but are unlikely to stick—consider starting small and slowly easing into a new pattern. Lasting habits aren’t formed quickly, but rather slowly and consistently over time. Are there any spending habits that you have that you feel aren’t enriching your life in any way? Maybe there are different habits that you could swap them for instead? For instance, do you feel you’re spending too much on clothes? Instead of hitting the shops every weekend, maybe you could meet friends for a coffee instead. Do emails from retailers send you straight to their website? Unsubscribe! Find things that work for you, and make small changes to help you reach your savings goals.
While budgeting may not sound thrilling, the truth is that it can be a very exciting process. Gaining control over your finances can be tremendously empowering, and can help you feel a lot less anxious about many decisions as well. Since you’ll know for certain whether you can afford a new purchase, you’ll be able to spend and save with confidence knowing that you’re heading toward your financial goals.