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Are Your Spending Habits Ruining Your Life?

Jun 17, 2008
Are you always stressed about money? Do you dread seeing the credit card statement in the mail? Are you constantly worried about how you're going to pay your bills? Do you have a tendency to overspend and then worry about paying the essentials?

You're not alone in this. Many people's greatest stress is not from their job, but from their own spending habits. Most of us never really learned to spend responsibly, and we're dealing with the consequences now, as we become adults who don't manage our money well.

It is said that more marriages break up over money than any other cause, including infidelity. You already know first-hand that money crunches can create tremendous stress, and finally you reach the point where even when you're spending money on necessities, you're worried about money and how you'll pay the bills.

Once your spending starts creating this kind of stress, guilt and self-blame create even more stress. You may finally reach a point where you feel that there is nothing you can do to change your situation; you may feel desperate for a different life.

The good news is, you can change your spending habits and pull yourself out of the difficult situation you've spent your way into. The bad news is it will take time, but you didn't get into this situation overnight, either.

First, commit to changing your spending habits. If you're not fully involved in this process, it won't work. Make a decision that you are going to do this, no matter what.

Second, write down everything you spend. Even the change for the parking meter or the soda machine. Keep a notebook with you and write down every penny you spend. At this point, you are not judging or changing anything. You're just finding out what you spend.

Write down your expenses for at least two weeks, and notice what you're spending money on. After you have several days' expenses written down, you begin to see patterns in your spending, and you can identify areas where you want to target your efforts to cut back.

It may be tempting to try to quit spending cold turkey, making a vow not to spend any money on "anything extra." This kind of crash diet almost never works. Even worse, when you feel you've failed at your goal, you may end up spending more money than you would have before.

The best way to approach changing your spending is to find one thing that you can change relatively easily. For many people, this is a small, regular expenditure like sodas at the vending machine at work or a latte from the coffee shop every morning. These may seem like small things, but if you're buying two sodas a day at $1 each, that's $10 a week, or $40 a week, that you can save with very little effort.

Focusing on something small, that can add up to a very large amount of money over time, is a very effective way to start your spending modification, because the results are easy to measure.

Once you've eliminated one small spending habit and feel good about a successful change, you may want to target something larger, such as eating out or buying something you love, like books or movies. Taking this step by step, you can modify your spending habits and become a responsible spender.

This process does take time and effort, but the results, in your bank account and your personal life, will be well worth the doing.
About the Author
Read the blog http://www.zero-out-my-debt.com for the latest tips and information on debt reduction and debt elimination .
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