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Whether it's Christmas time gift purchasing, a spur of the moment holiday splurge, or just some bad day retail therapy, there will always be a reason to spend money a little mindlessly. But as those payments start to pile up and you're barely making it to payday, it's time to cultivate a payment plan.
No matter your age, it's never too late or too early to improve your money management. Below are the six top tips for turning you from chronic spender to savvy shopper.
Managing your finances doesn't mean forgoing spending altogether, it simply means being a smart shopper. Utilising credit card deals is a key component of this. There are so many credit cards on the market today that give you frequent flyer points or discount items each time a certain amount is hit, so you'll find you end up saving whilst you shop.
Set yourself a budget
The simplest way to have control over your spending is to set yourself a budget. Whilst you may be tempted to do retrospective financial damage control by setting yourself a strict, small budget, this is one of the fastest ways to ensure you break it.
Have a look into your previous spending habits; what are your non-negotiables and where are you overindulging? Once you have all the relevant information, set yourself a realistic goal, something you will actually stick to.
A great way to find a suitable budget for your lifestyle is to add up your total monthly income, as well as adding up all your monthly expenses and then subtracting your expenses from your income. Whatever you're left with becomes the number you stick to.
Track your spending
Now that your budget is set, it's time to learn how to adhere to it. It's easy to go overboard with expenses so tracking your spending in order to see where your money is going is the ultimate way to manage your finances.
Begin by categorising your costs, a tool which many credit cards will do for you; you may begin to notice those extra treats at the supermarket or those on sale purchases are actually adding up more than you initially thought.
You may even notice that perhaps you're paying for things you didn't realise, like an extra streaming service or that gym membership you forgot you had. If you don't feel tech savvy enough to master an excel spreadsheet there are many apps that take the guesswork out, soon you'll know exactly where you can afford to splash out and where is best to save.
Save for those big purchases
Learning how to stay on budget is a vital skill to have, however this doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with your purchases, it just means that you have to wave goodbye to impulse shopping. By utilising your newfound skill of money tracking, look at where you have room to save, or perhaps what costs you can cut altogether and with that extra bit of money, set it aside for that big purchase you've been dying to make.
By the time you're able to afford it, it will still be within the budget you've made for yourself and you're less likely to feel buyers remorse due to the time you've spent saving.
Secure your savings
An imperative step when managing your finances, is creating a savings account. The best way to contribute to your savings is to set up an automatic transfer, this way you can just set and forget, and soon you'll have a healthy set of funds sitting in there.
There are a plethora of credit cards that reward you for adding to your savings which is even more incentive. This account also acts as your rainy day fund, money management isn't simply about how you spend your earnings, but also your financial foresight and preparation for the future. Having an untouched savings account ensures you have something to fall back on, or alternatively, something to build upon for the future.
Don't delay on a financial plan
Perhaps the most important step, long term, is to create a financial plan. This is almost like a large scale budget. Whilst a budget helps you to see what your spending currently looks like, a financial plan sets out where you'd like your money to go long term. Without one, you can make spending decisions that don't benefit your lifestyle long term.
For example, it may be within your budget technically to book a holiday, but if you're looking to purchase a home in the next eighteen months, then this may not be the most fiscally responsible move. Much like budgeting, there are multiple avenues you can take, you can do it yourself, or employ the help of a professional to guarantee that you are making the right choices for your future.
Be it a weekly groceries budget, or a larger scale financial plan, no choice is too big or too small. It's never too early, or late to try and take control of your money. Whether it's by utilising credit card deals or working your way through a budgeting spreadsheet, you'll be reaping the benefits of more favourable finances with these tips.