Breaking Bad Spending Habits in the New Year

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For many, the New Year is a time for change—or at least it’s a time to try changing. Whether it’s attempting to hit the gym more often or to pick up a new hobby, many people choose to commit themselves to self-improvement when there’s a fresh calendar to work with. According to one survey, however, only about 9% of those who make a New Year’s resolution are actually successful in sticking to it. If you’re trying to cut out your bad spending habits in the New Year—or at any point in time—here are our tips for staying the course.

Make a Plan

Perhaps the worst spending habit, which can lead to disorganized finances or overspending, is spending without a budget. Creating a budget provides you with a clear boundaries to work within each month. Setting goals for both spending and saving gives you concrete numbers to compare the sum of your daily habits against. Whether you’re looking to save for a big purchase down the road or trying to pay down debt, a budget can help you allocate the right amount of funds to reach your goals.

Beware Convenience and Impulse

With a good budget in place, you can plan how much to spend each month in different categories like food and entertainment. While it’s normal—and necessary—to budget for some fun events like eating dinner out, simple slip-ups like going overboard on takeout over the course of the month can be an easy way to bust your budget. Likewise, random impulse buys on unnecessary items that weren’t part of your budget can quickly put you into the red for the month.

Controlling these bad spending habits can potentially be made easier if you’re aware of what your weaknesses are. If you know you’re susceptible to eating out a little too often, making a meal plan can help with this. To help stop yourself from buying that new must-have gadget on a whim, you can also include money in your budget for spending on these luxury items. In the event that the cost of something exceeds your monthly budget, you’ll simply have to save over the multiple months until you can afford it.

Do the Research

Sometimes, of course, big purchases are necessary. And sometimes there are wants that we’ll give into. Do your budget a favor by balancing these spending habits with some time spent finding the best deal. Rather than pulling the trigger on the first item you desire and at the first location in which you find it, take the time to look around to ensure that you’re getting it for the best price. Not only can this help you fit the purchase into your budget, but it may also allow you the time to think over whether it’s truly a necessary buy to begin with.

Find a Source of Accountability

In the end, one of the best ways to stick with your goal to weed out bad spending habits is to find ways to be held accountable. Self-motivation can go a long way towards achieving your goals, but the truth is sometimes we fall short despite our best efforts. Whether it’s using a budgeting app like Mint, speaking with a financial advisor about your goals, or working with a friend, family member or spouse to stay on track, adding in layers of accountability can help you establish good spending habits in the New Year—or whenever you decide to revamp your finances.

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Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

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