5 METHODS TO IMPROVE BAD MONEY HABITS

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“Too many people spend money they earn, to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” – Will Rogers.

It is not difficult for us to slip into bad habits, especially when it comes to spending money, as we tend to follow our impulses to splurge. Be it overspending on credit or debit cards, or splurging on last-minute, impulsive shopping – we fall prey to such habits, even if we try to curb them through appeals to reason. After that, we struggle to make ends meet, and end up accumulating bad credit, and applying for payday loans or a no credit check that we are unable to later pay off. Although these bad money habits are embedded in our brains and are hard to shake off, here are 5 methods that will help break this lifelong pattern:

1. Set Realistic Goals
According to most psychologists, most money problems arise due to the setting up of unrealistic goals and expectations. Most people unwittingly set themselves up for failure, because they tend to develop a mindset of either utter indulgence or deprivation. Even when we deprive ourselves and spend almost nothing, we tend to indulge and give into overspending in the end. With an unrealistic plan, you relinquish all sense of control. To remedy this, you can create a checklist, or a habit schedule at the beginning of the month, or resort to apps that help you stick to set financial goals and habits.

2. Change How You Spend Your Money
Test this out for a week, or a day, as it might help you slow down your rate of expenditure. Although using credit or debit cards is convenient and hassle-free, we end up not being mindful about the amount we actually spend. Try paying small amounts of money, along with shopping bills via cash, so that you can break the pattern of mindlessly swiping cards into machines. As cash is tangible, it makes you more alert about the money spent, and you end up spending more judiciously.

3. Change Your Mindset
True change can only come from within – if you wire your mind to work a certain way, then your actions will automatically fall in line. You can drop off unnecessary habits from your daily schedules, such as that daily gourmet drink you order from Starbucks, or the expensive pack of cigarettes you insist on smoking every other day. Instead, you can work on slight corrective changes, such as, walking to the metro station or saving a few bucks in your money bank everyday.

4. Track Your Expenditure
If you are successful in following this for a month, you will be able to cultivate a healthy money-saving habit. College students often struggle with their expenditures as they are unable to manage their credit cards, and juggle auto loans, credit card debt, and mortgages. Try getting a receipt for every purchase, and in case you are unable to get one, write down your expenses in a notebook, along with date and description. Breaking up your expenses into categories such as food, clothing, housing, medical, and miscellaneous can be of great help. Also, try to differentiate between what you need and want, as we often confuse one with the other.

5. Reward Yourself
After you have successfully adopted good money habits, and are balancing your bank account or putting cash in your emergency fund every day, give yourself a small reward for your efforts! Be mindful as to not completely undo all your progress, but you could buy yourself a treat, download an e-book, or go watch your favorite superhero movie. Treating yourself intermittently works along with the psychology of delayed gratification, which makes the process more bearable and worthwhile at the end of the day.