With an increase in the amount of time we are spending at home, you could be tempted to do some online shopping. It might start by browsing your favorite clothing brand’s website or checking out the latest finds on Amazon, but before you know it, you could have wasted hundreds of dollars on impulse purchases you didn’t even need. Instead, save yourself some money and use these tips to stop yourself from overspending.
Create a Budget
If you have been neglecting your personal finances, now is the perfect opportunity to see what shape you are in. Look at your past transactions and take note of where you are spending the majority of your income. To control any bad spending habits, you should create a monthly budget. This not only helps you save money, but can encourage you to build better financial habits long-term.
To start your budget, calculate your total net income for a month. That will be the amount of money you take home from your paycheck, not including any taxes, insurance payments, or 401(k) contributions. You will want to make sure to take into account all of your sources of income when calculating your monthly income total. From there, you can start to plan how you will spend your money for the month.
First, you should add up all of your essential expenses. This includes costs like utilities, rent, food, phone, or loan payments. These are necessary expenses you will consistently have every month. Once those expenses are added to your budget, you can use your remaining income for non-essential purchases. These costs could include entertainment, eating out, clothing, or gifts. Using your previous month’s transactions as a reference, create a plan that will allow you to spend money without going overboard. Remember, you want to have money left over at the end of the month to be set aside for your personal savings.
Track Your Spending
Now that you have a budget created, you will need to hold yourself accountable to the limits you set. While this is difficult, you can make it easier by recording every purchase you make throughout the month. After each transaction, it may be helpful to enter the amount of money you spent into the appropriate category of your budget. No matter if it was your rent check or a meal at a restaurant, tracking this can give you a more representation of where your money is going. Your budget can’t help you change your spending habits unless you use it consistently.
To speed up the process, you can use an online money management platform to track your spending in real-time. Setting up mobile alerts will let you know how much you spent and the total remaining balance of your bank account. Using the notifications, you can then update your budget after each transaction without having to save receipts. It’s also easy to overspend when shopping online because you don’t have to physically hand over money. Seeing your bank account dwindle each time you make a purchase will help you realize how much money you’re actually spending.
Set a Financial Goal
Just like any new habit you are trying to form, finding the right motivation can help you achieve it faster. To help you stay focused on your budget, you should set a financial goal to give yourself some extra motivation. Start by selecting a short-term, attainable goal. Plan a dream vacation for next year or save up for a down payment on a new car. No matter what you want to accomplish, just make sure you hold yourself to it. Write down your goals in a journal or find a friend with a similar mindset to be your accountability buddy. Having an end goal will give you that extra urge to keep saving money for the future.
You don’t need to be a financial planner to take charge of your money. Take the first step by using this opportunity to plan ahead and create a budget for yourself. And don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time sticking to it. You might just need to adjust your budget to find the right balance between spending and saving."