Budget Better

December 11, 2018

Well that sounds like a plan, let’s all budget better!  It’s easy enough to say but challenging to implement.  Just think of all the expenses you have that are unnecessary and superfluous – coffee on the way to work, lunches, junk food, booze, cigarettes, gifts, expensive clothing, vacations, home repairs.

Your list (of potential savings) could be as extensive as your imagination, at the end of the day we are all guilty of spending money somewhat frivolously.  But, how can you stop spending on things you don’t need?  The answer is twofold first you will need the discipline to follow through with a plan, and then you need to acknowledge that you have habitual behaviours you need to change.

The word “habit” for most people only carries negative connotations – drinking, drugs, gambling, smoking, chewing fingernails and so on.  But we all have many more habits, most of them are good for us, and they help us get through the day with less mindfulness.  Think about simple habits such as, which arm do you put into your coat first?  Or, which shoe do you usually put on first?  I’ll bet it’s the same thing everyday.

Our lives are full of rituals, habits, behaviours that we repeat over and over, day after day.  You’ve had déjà vu, we all have, maybe you just strung a bunch of smaller rituals together in precisely the same order as you had in the past (familiarity) and it gave you a feeling of having been there before (in an unfamiliar place).  What may make that memory stand out is that the order is not the same as every other day.

Habits have everything to do with helping you budget better, the best way to kick one habit is to replace it with another, hopefully a better, healthier habit.  Instead of grabbing a burger and fries for lunch grab a salad and yogurt.  Make a point of it, after a while you will start to crave the salad and yogurt.  Similarly, get into a habit of clipping and using coupons, after a while you will feel a little lost at the grocery store when you don’t have a coupon to save some money.

Make a habit of using price matching apps on your smart phone, make a habit of noting the dates of specials, make a habit of taking a lunch to work.  Make a habit of putting savings ahead of recreational spending instead of being the last line item on your budget.  There are many positives when you budget better, you start living within your means and you will probably have more money for pleasure items such as family vacations.