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How to Fix Your Bad Spending Habits

Sep 10, 2008
Bad spending habits is often the underlying cause that prevents most people from becoming financially free. However, the good news is: you can prevent this.

In my observations, shopping can be a very emotional experience. Retail therapy! Because women, in particular, are more prone to relate emotionally to life's experiences, they need to learn how to manage the emotional attachment to buying and having new things. These items tend to be smaller, more dispensable objects such as clothing, ornaments or nurturing items (sweet smelling candles, toiletries, etc). Usually my female clients were more inclined to overspend in the discretionary and variable costs categories of their money planner.

Men, who are more inclined to judge their worth by the value of their cars, motor bikes and other larger items, tend to be overspent in the fixed costs category, due to the loans and debt required to purchase them.

We all love new things, however we need to find other more constructive ways to give ourself something new. Our parent's generation tended to spend less and made more things. Be resourceful!

The best thing you can give yourself is to identify your negative spending habits. Abuse of credit cards? Emotional dependency on shopping? You want everything - NOW! Unfortunately, the only thing you can do now is to identify these problems and work with them.

Gary Zukav, author of 'The Seat of Your Soul', says that the bottom line to emotional dependencies and the inability to resist temptation is a lack of self-worth. He says temptation is like a magnet that brings negative things to the surface so that you can do something about them, and therefore an invitation to get to know yourself better. If you are a shop-a-holic there maybe a deeper need you are trying to fulfil. You will be far better off spending your money on books or courses devoted to developing your self-worth than constantly surrendering to retail-therapy.

What negative pattern is causing you to lose ground? Are you too impetuous? Do you keep borrowing too much money and getting into too much debt? Have you no savings or investments to cushion the fall? Do you waste your money on too many extravagant purchases that you don't need?

Wasting your money on gambling or lotteries in the anticipation of that big windfall is like trying to put a roof on your house before the foundations are well and truly built.

My advice to my clients is always: Economise. Economise. Economise. You will probably get sick and tired of reading it, but trust me: the ability to economise at the right time and spend at the appropriate time is the key to wealth management and success. Good businesses know this.

No-one ever became rich by spending all of their money. Yes, you may argue, some have become rich by windfall, legacy or speculation. But what percentage of people have achieved this and what percentage of those have kept the money in the long run? The percentage is too low and the odds are definitely against you.

The trick to economising is actually quite simple. Before you part with your money, always ask, "Do I really need this?", "Will I end up wasting this?", "Is this an extravagance I can easily live without?" If you develop a little voice in your head every time you go shopping that asks you these three simple questions, and you listen to and obey the answers, you will automatically start to economise.

Economising is not living frugally. It is not about being miserly and not sharing your money. It is not about penny pinching and living without the things you really need.

Economising is simply about not wasting your money, not being extravagant and not buying things you cannot afford.
About the Author
Ann Marosy is an accountant, consultant, and former university lecturer. She was formally a Financial Controller of a Fortune 500 Company, and Finalist of SA Executive Woman of the Year.

Ann is the author of 'The Money Program' book series, which includes managing the stages of wealth creation, formulas for budgeting, debt-free program and investment strategies. Visit: The Home of The Money Program
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