You didn’t mean for it to happen. It was a total accident. One day you were going shopping with a healthy balance sitting in your bank account, and the next there was practically nothing.
Financial planning isn’t easy in the best of times. Depending on your expenses, there can be a lot of moving parts to keep track of. But if you have a tendency to overspend, nailing down a budget can become very difficult if not impossible.
If you’re looking for proactive ways to spend less, here are 4 financial tactics that you can use to curb overspending for good.
#1: Set a Hard Budget
Raise your hand if you’ve done this before. At the start of the month you’re claiming that this is going to be the month that you’re going to spend less and have money left to spare. But as the weeks go by, a funny thing happens:
You’re borrowing from your savings account and dipping into other budgets until suddenly you’re wrapping up the month with a low bank account balance. Again.
It’s possible to reign in overspending by creating a hard budget that you simply can’t spend over. In practice, this could mean having to shop store brands or start brewing your morning coffee at home. But creating that hard limit can make all the difference in your quest to banish overspending.
#2: Have Money Set Aside for Non-Essentials
For many people, budgeting is the financial version of yo-yo dieting. Much like the beginning phase of a crash diet, folks will plan carefully and budget to the penny. But after a few weeks or months of being extremely disciplined, they’ll blow up their savings on a new bit of entertainment or a chance to eat out.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent $9.7 billion on entertainment in 1998. With the advent of streaming services and the internet, odds are good that those numbers have only grown since then.
The answer to the overspending conundrum isn’t to deprive yourself for months at a time. It’s to build the things that you enjoy into your budget. That way you can make a sustainable lifestyle change without hurting your financial goals.
#3: Create a Separate Emergency Savings Account
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a common saying for a reason. Sometimes the key to not spending money is to just make it less accessible. This has two key advantages.
First, because psychologically, not seeing the savings in your primary chequing account makes it easier to spend as if you never had the money to begin with.
And second, because if you ever do need to tap into your savings for whatever reason, it gives you a bit of time to reflect on whether or not your situation is actually an emergency.
The best part is that you can even automate this. All you have to do is send some money to your emergency savings account every month and then forget about it. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.
#4: Make a Point of Buying Items Cheaply
Sometimes it’s not what you purchase but when. If you were to sit down and analyze your purchasing habits, you might be surprised at how much money you could be saving on items you were going to buy anyway.
Interestingly enough, Global News reported in 2018 that Canadians can save money on goods by buying either in season or after the rush is over.
For example, if you wait until clearance season to shop, many goods will sell at deep discounts. Do you need to buy winter tires? Are you shopping for new gaming systems or electronics? Between holiday-themed discounts and stores looking to sell out inventory, you may be surprised at the deals you’re able to find.
And while it might not be possible to buy everything on sale, there’s something to be said for the money you can save by making an effort.
The paycheck to paycheck lifestyle is chaotic in the best of times. Every month is characterized by scrambling, asking friends and family for loans, or just that uncomfortable feeling of knowing that if you were to ever lose your job or take a pay cut, you wouldn’t be able to survive.
The good news is that cutting down on overspending iis definitely doable. It’s just a matter of going back to the basics. We’ve just given you 4 tips that you can use to start putting an end to overspending. Try implementing one or two today.