The western world has had it good over the past decade with standards of living higher than ever before. The economic downturn has seen that come to an abrupt halt.
Whilst most of us have been forced to tighten our belts severely, those bad spending habits picked up in the good times, can be difficult to break when times are hard. If you can’t seem to control your spending habits, here are some handy hints and tricks to stop slapping down the plastic and start saving money!
Ditch the plastic
It may seem like a millennia ago, but once upon-a-time, people paid for stuff with cash. If the cash wasn’t in your pocket, you couldn’t buy what you wanted. That concentrated the mind on what you needed and what was pure indulgence.
As soon as credit became available, it was easy to forget the value of money. Buy-now-pay-later could easily slip into buy-everything-pay-never.
The older generation who survived post-war rations baulk at the thought of buying on credit. As a consequence, they are far more aware of the cost of things.
Experiment for a month by ditching all credit cards and paying for everything in cash. The true cost really hits home when you have to scrape together the loose change. You’ll see your actual spending plummeting in no time.
Place a box of chocolates in front of a child and they’ll want to eat one. Shopping is no different. The invention of the mall made shopping a pastime. And since the internet has become more accessible to all, the stroll around the mall has been replaced by a surf around the net, with virtual shops open 24 hours. Stay away! Avoid window shopping of any kind, whether a walk down Oxford Street, browsing through a glossy catalogue or browsing online. Keep the chocolates away from the kid and the kid won’t want the chocolates. It’s not rocket science!
Driven to distraction
If you crave a little retail therapy and can’t control the urge, try distracting yourself with something free: a cold shower, a blast of loud music, a cuddle or all three.
Look at becoming involved in fresh activities, such as cooking, exercise, learning to play music or learning to paint. Get your friends involved in your new activities so you can share the reprogramming of bad habits. Just don’t fall into the trap of going shopping to buy the equipment for your replacement hobby!
You need help!
Sometimes you just can’t do everything alone. Ask a partner or close family member to take over the finances for a while. Hand over credit cards and cheque books and discuss budgets, income and expenditure. If you have a small business, seek advice from limited company accountants.
It can be hard giving over the reins, but getting someone you trust to give you a breather might help to get perspective and take back control. If debts have got out of hand, a professional debt advisor might help. Compulsive shopping is not uncommon and can be linked with stress, anxiety and depression. Ultimately, if you feel you have lost control, you might benefit from a referral for specialist addiction therapy.
This guest post has been written and contributed on behalf of online accountancy specialists Brookson.