How I'm Breaking My Budget Bad Habits
Successful money management for most women comes down to execution. On some level, most of us have a good grasp of the basics. We should have a budget, start saving for retirement, and understand how to maximize our earning potential through our careers. So why can it be so difficult to go from that understanding to executing on our financial goals?
I’m focusing over the next year on being more mindful about my money, and these few steps I’m taking are helping me break my budget bad habits. This requires consistent effort, but these tips are changing how I approach my everyday spending.
1 | I’m Understanding My Spending Triggers
The best of budget plans go bust in situations that are really personal to each of us. In my monthly budget review, I started really looking at spending on a day by day basis. This sounds like a serious level of detail to get into, but it really helped me identify times of the month, events, and other triggers that I spend around without much regard given to my normal plan.
I found that I’m really budget unconscious around evenings out with friends or Saturdays I have to myself where I stroll around the city. In the former scenario, I can end up spending money on cabs because I’m feeling a little lazy about walking, or I agree to post or pre event drinks that can totally add up. Left my own devices on a cozy weekend, I’ll often stop into shops I hadn’t planned or treat myself to a lunch out that was a little more than needed.
So many of these moments are attached to great memories but I can do a better job of looking out for them and recognizing when I’m in situations that could potentially drive me to spend more than I’d planned. Even this level of awareness has changed my behavior and made me question impulse spending in these scenarios.
2 | I’m Opening and Taking Action on Every Bill Immediately
This is one of my biggest bad money behaviors that I keep needing reinforcement to overcome! We all suffer from too much mail, and even digital clutter has become more of an issue as we try to be a little more green and go paperless.
I’ve gone one step further beyond paperless bills and have set up “e-bills” through my primary bank. It’s a different service that some banks offer where the still comes through your email but is a bank notification that links straight back to your bill pay. This has been really helpful for me taking more immediate action on bills that hit my inbox instead of letting it sit as a to-do item and gather digital dust as I open and close it in favor of something much more exciting.
3 | I’m Talking More with the Mr. About Money
It can be hard to know how to talk to your partner about money, but it’s a really important aspect of financial wellness and maintaining a healthy relationship. While routine budget meetings and talking about your long-term financial goals are a critical part of partnership, I’ve found that more short-term tactical conversations around spending have gone a long way for us in curbing off-budget spending.
In addition to big budget discussions, we’ve been having more talks around where our daily dollars go. Even being able to share things with each other like feeling a little peeved that we spent $17 on a salad (I heart NYC) after forgetting lunch in the fridge is a way that we’re keeping budget a little more conversational and top of mind. I’m finding that as we’re integrating money chats more into our everyday conversation it makes the bigger financial goals easier to talk about!