Habits: If You Can’t Break Them, Manage Them

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Habits come in three varieties: the good, the bad and the ugly. Regardless of how virtuous, pretty or fugly yours are, we’ve all got them. They’re part of who we are. While we could spend our lives in financial turmoil over them, a much better strategy is to:

  • Own up to what those habits are. Living life without reward is simply lame, and there really are occasions that call for new shoes. In order to manage what could be a shoe, gadget or latte ‘issue’, you must to come to terms with how many of your habits are based on wants, needs or greed.
  • Manage those habits so they don’t manage you. Because you do work so hard on developing and sticking to your budget, you deserve a perk or two. Note the word perk, not impulse.

Here are a few management ideas to help you separate wants from greed, curb impulsive spending and create habits that are better, less breakable and way more bankable in the long run.

Lead yourself not into temptation. If gadgets are your thing, eliminate all newsletters, listservs, subscriptions and spam related to new electronics. The same goes for clothing hoarders: cancel those catalogs and “Flash Sale” emails!

Deliver yourself from evil. Okay, paying full retail when you don’t have to isn’t evil, per se. It’s just a tremendous waste of money. Research before you reward, especially if Internet shopping is kind of your thing.

Before making a purchase of $100 or more, wait. If you’re still in a state of want a week later, save. If at the end of the month, that want is teetering on Must. Have. Now! Buy. But only if it’s penciled into your budget.

Pencil in some fun money. The purchase mentioned above? Here’s why you can afford it. Depending on how well you manage your 50/30/20 situation, you could have some money left over at the end of the month for those carefully thought out and responsibly executed impulse buys. 

Review before you even think about spending. The Internet is a fabulous thing. Why? Because somewhere out there on the World Wide Web is a product, restaurant or service review that could save you from colossally wasting your money.

If you can’t trim, restrain. Get a hold of yourself! If you simply cannot stop smoking, buying shoes, (insert your vice here), cut back. If that still doesn’t work, get the help you need.

Make some money rules. Consider making Mondays your weekly “No Money” day, when you don’t allow yourself to spend at all, no exceptions. Or maybe you only allow yourself to buy new music on the 13th of the month. You might discover that some of that “necessary” spending wasn’t so necessary after all. Anything that will make you have to think twice about succumbing to your habit will help you to break it.