Time and again, reason gives way to irrationality when dealing with money: For example, when you keep adding to your online shopping cart even though the last bill has not yet been paid. Or when you buy a new smartphone that you don’t actually need. Most common mistakes in money management boil down to 3 destructive behaviors. The most effective way to prevent them is to become aware.
Few people ever question their recurring behavioral patterns. That’s because it’s hard to be conscious about something that you’ve become so used to. As long as nobody else challenges them, people tend to stick with their habits. However, this can – quite literally – come at great cost. Especially, when it comes to money habits. Most likely, you have developed your spending behavior based on how you have been raised, as well as in response to various events and relationships throughout your life.
Chances are that, in case you’ve got destructive spending habits, you’re not even aware of them – because this is just how you’ve always been dealing with money.
See if any of the following behaviors remind you of someone you know.
1. Buying on Impulse
If you tend to buy things spontaneously, you’re in good company. An estimated 84% of Americans regularly fall victim to impulse buying. Of course, it’s difficult to avoid unplanned shopping when there’s an irresistible deal every time you go to the store or an online shopping site. But you can prevent falling into the trap by following the 24-hour rule.
It’s simple: Whenever you feel the urge to buy something, force yourself to wait 24 hours before making the purchase. If, after that time, you find that it’s worth buying the item, do it. But chances are that your initial enthusiasm has subsided and you find that it would be better to save your money or use it for more important things.
2. Celebration spending
Something good happened? Time to burn some money!
There’s no shame in celebrating your achievements but when this becomes an automated mechanism, it can do a lot of damage. Wanting to reward yourself after an accomplishment is completely normal.
But try to postpone major financial decisions when you find yourself in that mood.
3. Not keeping track
You need a budget to keep your finances under control. Otherwise, there is no way of knowing where your money goes each month and where it would make sense to save.
And it’s easier than you think! All you have to do is list your monthly spendings – the recurring ones, and also the occasional ones that occur throughout the year – and then compare your total expenses with your total income.
If you find that you have adopted any of these destructive behaviors, I’ve got good news for you: Realizing it is the first step to making a change.
Next time you find yourself on the brink of buying something out of an unwanted habit, remember the strategies that you can use to break it. That way you’re developing a whole new habit: Making financial decisions consciously.