If you want to spend less money, then it might be wise to look into your spending vices. Because, while I hate to say it, I’ve come to the conclusion that we all have spending vices, even if we don’t know we do. Perhaps for you it’s the extra items you add to the cart when you’re online shopping, or that expensive (but needed) Prada handbag, or the latte you can’t do the day without. Whatever it is, your spending vice is that thing you could live without, but you don’t. Obviously, there are times and places for splurging to occur. After all, life isn’t about being serious and boring. But, where do you really want to splurge? On that daily $5.00 latte, or on a trip to Paris with your girlfriends? Plus, to be frank, those little spending vices often end up costing us more than the occasional trip or night out with the besties.
Just like it’s not a good idea to have dessert every night, it’s also not a great idea to allow little spending habits overtake your finances. So, what’s a girl to do? Well, I’d recommend setting a game place to identify and control your spending vices.
Track Your Expenses
We all talk about the need to budget, but if you haven’t quite made it to that point, just start tracking where your money is actually going. Simply get a small notebook and pen and track everything you spend money on. If you have anything that comes out of your bank automatically make sure you track that too! In addition, make sure anything you buy online is included in your total. I know it’s not fun, but it’s a great exercise in learning what’s really happening to your money.
The point of tracking your money isn’t to cut out your splurges completely or make your life less fun, but to identify problem areas and create balance in your spending. If you truly want to spend less money, seeing the areas you consistently spend a lot in is helpful. For instance, I had a habit of getting coffee every morning at Starbucks. It’s so easy to become conditioned to the idea that everyone gets coffee in the morning on the way to work, in addition to that, it saved me time. But, when I started looking at the prices of my Venti latte with coconut milk (coming in at over $4.00), it became quite apparent that was a vice for me. $140 a month in coffee is nothing to scoff at. So, I started allocating my money so that I didn’t have more than $40 a month to spend in coffee total. This kept me from feeling like I “couldn’t” go to Starbucks at all, but it helped me make wiser financial choices when I did go, and I got in the habit of making coffee at home a lot (which honestly tastes better).
Why Controlling a Vice Is Important
Besides the financial importance of knowing how you spend your money, identifying your spending vices can help you see areas of your life that might need to be worked on. For instance, if you’re buying new clothes every month just because you want them, that might be an indicator of an underlying impulse control issue. Plus, if you’re buying without getting rid of clothes you’re probably cluttering up your house. As a blogger, getting a coffee every morning was at a deeper level a way to be part of society. Since cutting coffee out of my morning routine, and identifying it’s important to my routine, I’ve been actively working to get involved in my community in positive ways that are more fulfilling and don’t cost (as much) money. For instance, I recently helped with a charity event.