Learning good spending habits saved our lives when we first started budgeting.
When I first quit my job to take care of our sick kiddo, I woke up on my first day of being unemployed and thought, “This isn’t so bad. I kinda like being a full-time mom.”
But, then, of course, a week or so went by and the anxiety of no paycheck started to creep in. I had to switch gears and start thinking seriously about two things; how we could save money and how we were spending money.
Creating an accurate budget
I think one of the main ways that people new to budgeting sabotage themselves is that they only think about their budget from the perspective of how they can save money.
However, the other half of that coin – and just as important – is thinking about spending habits and how to improve them.
When you create a budget, an essential first step is to go through everything that you spend money on and really assess if it is necessary. Then, you can plan for how much money each month you will spend on that item or category.
Good Spending Habits That Reduce Clutter
It’s easy to look around your home and identify the areas where too much clutter has accumulated and how you could reduce the amount of ‘stuff’.
However, the most impactful way that you can reduce the clutter in your home is to never purchase it in the first place.
Here are just a few tips to help you develop good spending habits that reduce clutter:
Don’t buy just because you have run out
Human beings are creatures of habit. We do things without really thinking and allow our muscle memory to guide us around.
However, when it comes to spending habits you absolutely must take a front seat role and stay mindful.
If you’re on a budget and you run out of dryer sheets – don’t just add them to your shopping list. Really think about whether or not you need them. Is there a different more long-term solution to static? For instance, a wool dryer ball or a ball of tin foil.
How many times per day do you pick up used dryer sheets around the house that have fallen out of the loads of laundry that you have folded? It may not be much but, if you didn’t have to do it at all, that would be 100 times worth it!
If you can’t find it … DO NOT buy a new one
When I was growing up my mom not only had a junk drawer in the kitchen but, she also had an old wooden dresser in the dining room and each of the drawers were also cluttered with junk.
Anytime we were looking for something *anything* her advice was always to go digging through those drawers.
The thing is, we rarely found what we were looking for.
These frustrating memories from my childhood have conditioned me to have the mindset, “If you can’t find it when you need it … don’t keep it”. In other words, get organized and keep things accessible.
Always have a plan when you go shopping
Back when we lived without a budget, I was one of those folks who would happily fall retail victim to the many unnecessary items at Target.
You know what I’m talking about. You go in there needing laundry soap but, you leave with a complete set of brand new dishes, four new outfits with shoes, and a receipt for $400.
Nowadays, things are a lot different. Not just because we are on a budget but, because I just don’t value stuff the way that I used to.
I look at those outfits or shoes and I think, “How many trips to the zoo could that get us?” or, “How many tanks of gas for our Sunday drives would that buy?”
Also, I never go into the store without a list and a plan for how to get the best deal on each item.
Pay with cash
When we first started budgeting a few years ago, I decided to go with the envelope budgeting system. It seemed like the easiest system to understand and I liked the idea of keeping really close boundaries on our money.
The problem was, we had gotten into a habit of thinking about electronic money as not being real. I mean, we only ever dealt with debit cards and online checking accounts so, we never actually had cash in our hands.
When I started trying to do the envelope budget using a spreadsheet, we were never “on budget” and I couldn’t figure out why. Then we realized that our little $5 and $10 purchases for lunch, a coffee, a pack of gum, etc all added up and they all threw off the budget.
We decided to get real serious about our budgeting efforts and take all of our money out of the checking account each pay period and divide up the cash for every single bill. Then, we would deposit the cash into an account that we used only for paying bills online.
This left cash for things like gas, groceries, and toiletries. When you walk into Target with only $20 cash and no money in your checking account … you only buy what you’re there for. Boom.
If you are new to budgeting and you are having a lot of trouble staying on track … stay out of the stores. It might sound extreme but, if Target is your weak spot or you just can’t go into Costco without spending extra money on stuff you don’t need – don’t go there.
I absolutely hate Walmart. So, when we first started our budget I would only ever shop Walmart because I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Now, I can go into Target or HomeGoods with my list and my budget and I don’t stray. But, for nearly a year, I was a Walmart shopper. (Talk about sacrifice)