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Smart spending is one of the important habits that you need to learn when you are trying to improve your personal finances. If you are not used to it, the first few months may be quite a challenge. It is not one of the easiest to implement because in most cases, you will be fighting the temptation to buy things that you used to purchase.
It is not easy to change your habits overnight. It will take time and a lot of self control and willpower to get used to it. Most of the time, it becomes more difficult because of how society encourages us to keep on spending. But regardless of how used we all are to consumerism, it is vital for us to start making smarter spending choices.
Why you need to practice smart spending
Given the economic downfall that occurred a few years back, being a smart spender is needed more than ever. As soon as the comfort of stable employment conditions got pulled out from under us, we realized just how extravagant we were all living. Compared to the lifestyles we led before, we are spending too much.
In the past, children only needed playgrounds and each other’s company to have a great time. While that is still true, it is now overrun by video games, online games and other gadgets that gets more expensive after every update. That is just one example of how we have evolved into being extravagant spenders.
Here are other reasons why smart spending can help you today.
It helps you increase your debt payment fund. The bigger contribution you can make towards your debts, the faster you can get out of it.
It teaches you how to get the most value out of your limited resources.
It can train you to lead a more frugal lifestyle.
It allows you to free up money to boost your savings.
It keeps you from wasting money on unnecessary things.
It helps you grow your personal net worth.
What it takes to be a smart spender
Being a smart spender is not only about cutting back on unnecessary expenses. It is more of finding better alternatives to get the most value out of your money. It is also taking time to think about where your money is best invested on. That means saying no to a purchase even when you can afford it.
To help you get started on making better spending decisions, here are some tips that you can implement.
Always find the best alternative.
You should always know your choices. Do not settle for one brand just because it is the most expensive or it is the cheapest. Sometimes, cheap is not the best choice. For instance, a $50 jeans that will wear out in 2 years is still better than a $30 jeans that will fade in a year.
Use cash for all, if not most, of your expenses.
What smart spending will help you do is live within your means. The easiest way to implement this is to use cash for your purchases. Unlike credit, when you run out of cash, that is it for you. Credit will allow you to spend even after you can no longer afford it. As long as you are within your credit limit, you can keep on spending - which is bad because you accumulate more debt that you have to pay with interest.
Live on a budget.
Budgeting will help you identify how much you can still spend on a category. It organizes your finances in such a way that will give you specific amounts that you can spend for food, groceries, transportation, entertainment and other variable expenses. It will keep you from overspending. And having a clear limitation on your spending, it will force you to make smarter choices to help stretch your budget to provide the highest quality for your needs.
Plot your spending.
This is most important as you begin smart spending. List down where your money goes to and review it at the end of the week or month. Check if you can improve your spending even further to maximize your saving potential.
Traps that can keep you from making wise spending decisions
As you implement the above mentioned tips, you also need to be aware of the traps that society has to get you to spend more than what you really need. You have to understand that our modern society is so hooked up on consumerism that we are encouraged to spend on a lot of things. To help you bring about the big change in your life and practice smart spending, here are the traps that you need to be wary of.
Advertisements. Companies spend millions to conceptualize these ads so you can expect that they will be very effective in getting you to spend on whatever product is being highlighted.
Credit cards. The very concept of credit cards is bad for financial management. It encourages you to spend more than what you need and to rely on a future income that has yet to be received. That is a dangerous way of spending and it puts you on a high risk of incurring debt.
Peer pressure. Another strong influence to spend more than what you need is through the people around you. It can be as close as your spouse and children. Our sense of wanting to belong prompts us to keep up with the people around us - even when we cannot afford it. You need to get past this and just live based on what you are capable of - not what the people around has set as a standard.
In the long run, smart spending can help you develop the right skills that will keep you out of a debt situation. It take some time to get used to but know that you have tools that you can use. You have budget plans and spending monitoring tools online. Check out the top ten personal finance software programs that TopTenReviews.com came up with for 2013.