How to Curb Your Spending (& Avoid a Severe Debt Headache)
If you're prone to spending more money at the shops than you actually have, you're not alone!
But if splashing the cash is built in to your DNA, how do you square that with the real world, i.e. your bank account? Of course you could just bar yourself from shopping, but in reality that won't work. What you need to do is to change how you shop and how you think about your money. And that last part is key - it's your
money. You worked hard to get it, so why get rid of it so quickly? Here's a few tips to help change your mindset towards spending money.Set Yourself a Budget
There is nothing better than taking care of all your shopping and doing it all within or, ideally, below budget. There are many ways you can budget your money. You could go for the trusty spread-sheet or use a more contemporary solution such as an online tool like Mint. Either way, work out how much money you have at your disposal and stick to it. This is the
single most important part of getting your spend under control. Using Credit Cards
One of the easiest ways to save money is to use a rewards credit card. These cards will reward you with points as you spend. Once you've accumulated enough points, you can redeem them for goods and services at businesses linked in with the rewards program. Most banks offer these types of cards, so if you don't have one now, you can find one on CreditCardCompare.com.au
Another way to save money is to use a credit card with a promotional offer on purchases. Several banks including ANZ, American Express and Westpac are currently offering 0% on purchases for up to 6 months. What this means is that you can buy something (as long as its value doesn't exceed your credit limit) and not have to pay any interest on it. If the card had an offer for 0% on purchases for 6 months, then you would only have to make the minimum monthly repayments on it for 6 months, giving you time to get the money together to pay it off in full. This type of deal is excellent if you want to spread the cost of buying something more expensive like a computer or home appliance. Using Store Cards
If you already have a budget in mind, it won't hurt to open up an in-store credit card as long as it offers no interest and no payments over several months. Department stores and home improvement stores are famous for these offers and even offer additional savings or cash back for opening an account or purchasing a certain dollar amount. Take your budget money and pay off the card within the no interest grace period so you don't end up in debt. Use Coupons
Using coupons is an easy way to save some real money. Many stores will have double and triple coupon deals on certain days of the week, or even on a permanent basis. Online coupon websites like Shop a Docket or Groupon and have made it easy to search for and print out coupons from home. Treat the coupon clipping and organising routine as if it was a job that is paying you an hourly wage. The more efficient you get at doing it, the more your hourly 'wage' is worth. Shop Online
Online shopping may be perfectly normal elsewhere in the world, but here in Australia we're just getting started. But if saving money is important to you, then you'll have to get a lot more familiar with shopping online where prices tend to be cheaper. You can still save money even if you don't actually buy online by using price comparison websites like Shopbot and Get Price for product research - once you find a shop with the lowest price, go to a local store and ask them to match their price. Layaway
If you are low on cash right now and your budget doesn't have room to spend, consider putting the bargain deals that you find on layaway. It only takes a little money down and you can make payments over time or pay the balance when you receive the money you have been waiting for. Putting your items on layaway also saves you money by not using a credit card, which may have a high interest rate. Avoid Payday Loans
If you can't afford to pay for something using any of the above mentioned methods, then the best thing to do is not buy it at all. A payday loan may look extremely attractive, but they can mire you down in debt at very high interest rates. The worst case scenario would be that the payday loan, which was intended as a short term loan, turns into something that takes months to repay. Avoid them.