5 Spending Habits You Need to Break Right Now

Published on April 11, 2016 By Lauren

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  • This is a guest post by Kalyn Brooke, author of 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expense and founder of The Creative Savings Blog.

    Some of us are really good at being smart with our money…others not so much.

    If you had talked with me a mere three years ago, you would have probably placed me in the smart money category. And while I’m still very careful about what I spend and where I spend it, being a new-ish homeowner who wants every room to look instantly perfect rather than collect things over time, is not always budget-friendly!

    In fact, I have to force myself to avoid the home decor aisles at Target and those quick stops {yeah, right} at HomeGoods. Otherwise, I would go absolutely crazy. When I only have $120 to spend a month on Home Care—which also includes pesticide control, small repairs, and regular maintenance like air filters, etc—it doesn’t leave a lot left to splurge on a new lamp or pillow.

    But sometimes, I just don’t care. My “wants” take over my “needs”, and I come home with a new rug for the front door anyway. That’s when I know it’s time to take a step back, before my spending streak turns into a full-blown habit.

    If you’re frustrated with not having enough money to pay your bills or save towards a future financial goal, it might be because you’re struggling with not-so-healthy spending patterns too. It’s nothing to be ashamed of—you’re already on the right track by reading this post! But it’s time to stop the excuses and focus on breaking these five habits before they get worse.

    Not tomorrow, not next week…..right now.

    Spending Habit #1: Buying on Impulse

    Did you know you can prevent almost any impulse purchase just by waiting 24 hours?

    Waiting gives our brain a psychological boost that convinces us we don’t need an item as much as we think we do — and we can totally work this to our favor.

    For example, I will often shop online, transfer items to my cart, then wait to see if I really need to buy that item or if I’m just having an emotional shopping spree. After 24 hours, I almost always forget that I was going to purchase something, and by the time I do remember, the sale is often long-gone or the item isn’t even available anymore!

    Spending Habit #2: Buying Things You Don’t Need

    FACT: We can get by with far less than we think we can.

    It only took a cross-country move for me to realize this, but I lived for months with half my things packed away. And you know what? I barely missed them. In fact, I even forgot I had some of these items because I was so used to not seeing them.

    Now I try to be more careful when I buy or bring a new item into my home, and ask myself these three questions:

    • Do I really need this item?
    • If I do, where will I put it?
    • What can I can get rid of in it’s place?

    This will save you from many a shopping regret, and as a bonus, keep your home clutter-free!

    Spending Habit #3: Shopping to Make Yourself Feel Better

    I am notorious for driving to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby whenever I’m feeling down or depressed. I don’t know why walking through the sticker aisle makes me happy, but leaving with a bag full of goodies {and more washi tape!} gives me the thrill of a lifetime…until I get home, that is.

    Then I’m filled with loads of regret, making me feel even worse than I did before. Yikes!

    Instead of shopping to give you that endorphin-like high, choose a healthier activity. Go for a walk, or get creative and finally tackle the DIY that’s been sitting on your Pinterest board forever. Do something other than spend money, and I promise you’ll be happier long-term.

    Spending Habit #4: Not Tracking What You Spend

    When people come to me and are in financial trouble, one of the first things I ask is where are they spending. Most of them can’t tell me—either because they don’t have a budget, or they just don’t keep track. I totally get it. Budgeting and expense tracking is tedious…boring even. But it’s very necessary if you want complete control over your money!

    Here’s an extremely simple way to begin: Download your bank statement and/or credit card statement, then choose 3 different colored highlighters. Go through each transaction and highlight based on:

    • Necessary costs {utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc.}
    • Things you wanted, but could live without
    • Impulse purchases

    After you’re done, notice what color highlighter you used most, and start thinking about what type of purchase it was. Did you mostly have eating out expenses? Monthly subscriptions like Netflix and Hulu? Target splurges? Now you have a better idea of where to cut costs first, and what you need to keep tabs on in the future.

    Spending Habit #5: Spending More Than You Make

    After you track what you’re spending, you may notice that it’s significantly more than what you’re earning. While it might seem like the next step is to make more income, I’ve found that time and time again, that simply doesn’t change the underlying issue—you need to spend less.

    It can be incredibly overwhelming to look at those expenses you highlighted and wonder what to cut first, or how to reduce monthly bills that seem pretty set in stone. That’s why I wrote 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses. Because it’s much more doable than you think.

    In this resource, I walk you through every part of your budget, and give you the tools and resources to change your expenses for the better—even if you already think they’re as low as they can go. Consider this your personal roadmap to make meaningful and lasting change, no matter how much or how little you make! Psst…the Kindle version is just $.99 today only.

    It’s so very easy to get off track financially. One slip up and you might as well just spend it all, right?

    But if you’re reading this post, then I know you care enough to recognize your spending for what it is. I also know you’re ready to get right back up again with an eye on your financial prize—whether it’s a debt-free life, home remodel you want to save up for, or even a dream vacation making memories with your family.

    Whatever it is, these spending habits take you away from that goal. Don’t lose what you really want, for what you want now. I know you can do it!

    What Spending Habit Do You Need to Break?


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