How to Stop Blowing Your Budget Every Month
If you keep blowing your budget every month, it's time to start prioritizing your spending. Ask yourself these questions the next time you are tempted to overspend.
"But, I just have to have this!"
1. Do I need it? Or do I want it? Before you buy something, ask yourself if the purchase will fulfill a want or a need. Needs are pretty self-explanatory: food, medications, health and wellness purchases, essential clothing for school, work, and recreation, household supplies, etc. Wants, on the other hand, are much more subjective. Wants can include things that are needs, such as clothes, but choosing to buy a designer outfit over a no-name brand fulfills a want. You want the glamour of wearing a high-fashion piece of clothing, but you don’t need to wear it to fulfill a basic need.
2. Can I afford to pay for it with cash? If you can’t pay for the item with cash, that’s a sign that you might want to reconsider the purchase altogether. Using credit cards to buy stuff that you can’t afford to pay for now is risky. If you can’t afford the item now, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the money you need to pay your credit card bill when it comes due.
3. Is this item going to go on sale soon? If the answer is yes, then it’s obvious what you need to do: Wait until the next sale!
4. Can I buy this thing at a better price somewhere else? Doing a quick search online for that item you want to buy can save you some money. The internet is an incredibly useful tool for finding out if you can get the same item for a cheaper price.
5. Is this a secure purchase? Shopping online can net you some pretty good deals if you know what you are doing and you buy from reputable merchants. But all it takes is one transaction on a fraudulent website and all your efforts to save money fly out the door.
Note: The tips and suggestions on how to stop blowing your budget are a guide only and not a substitute for professional financial advice. If you are struggling to pay your bills every month due to a high debt load and impulsive spending habits, you may want to consider seeking guidance from a credit counselling service.
6. Can I return this purchase if I don’t like it? If the answer is no, then be sure the item is something that you can live with if you can’t get your money back.
7. Do any of my friends or family members have one of these things? If the answer is yes, ask them to give you an honest opinion on the item. For instance, you may find out after talking to your relative that although that printer you want to buy looks like a great deal, the ink cartridges cost a ridiculous amount of money.
8. Can I borrow this thing from a family member or friend first before I decide to buy it? If it turns out that a friend or relative has the item that you are considering buying, you could ask if you could borrow theirs for a few days to see if it fits your lifestyle.
9. How much will it cost to repair or replace this thing if I break it or lose it? Weigh the long term maintenance or replacement costs against the item’s purchase price. Are you willing to put in the extra money needed to maintain that fancy car or finicky new gadget?
10. Is this something that I can put on a gift wish list instead of buying it right now?
11. How many hours will I have to work in order to pay for this purchase? When you quantify your purchase in terms of how many hours you’d have to work to pay it off, you may have second thoughts about the product’s value in your life. On the other hand, if the item will save you time or allow you to do other valuable things in your life (i.e.; a laptop so you can take an online course to upgrade your skills and get a raise), then the purchase may be worth it.
12. Can I buy this thing with rewards points? If you collect store rewards or bank card rewards, ask yourself if you have enough to buy the item with points. You may be able to get that thing you want for FREE! But not only that, by asking yourself if you are willing to trade the points that you’ve been saving up all year to buy the item, you might stop yourself from making a purchase you regret.
13. What does this purchase say about my values and beliefs? Sometimes the best way to deter yourself from buying an item on impulse is to tie that purchase to your beliefs and values. If you believe in protecting the environment, is buying the latest tech gadget really necessary, especially if it means that your old, perfectly usable device will end up in the trash or in a harmful third-world recycling facility?
14. What can I do with the money I save by choosing not to buy this thing at all? Check in with yourself before you reach the check out counter. At the end of the day, saving money while living abundantly is all about being in touch with your priorities. When you align your choices with the things that really matter in your life, you're less likely to make impulsive purchases that end up dragging you down, instead of lifting you up!
What really matters: owning more stuff or spending quality time with your loved ones?
What things tempt you the most to blow your budget each month?
© 2017 Sadie Holloway