This is a guest post by Sarah Kaufman.
It’s no secret that spending money is a lot more fun than saving it. Whether you’re shopping for your kids, or shopping for yourself, if you’re not careful, the depletion of your checking account will creep up on you faster than you can say, “Do you have this in red?”
As marketing manager of Manilla.com, I talk to customers all the time who are looking for new ways to save money and avoid spending what they simply don’t have. I’ve come up with a few core tips I always stick to that don’t just help my readers, but help me, too.
5 Ways to Combat Overspending
1. Stop feeling guilty. Guilt is a powerful emotion, linked to shame, that oftentimes helps to shape the good things we do in our lives. But when it comes to money, feeling overly guilty could result in just the opposite, and instead fuel your tendency to over-shop. Eliminate this guilt. And take comfort in knowing that you’re making an effort to stop over-spending your money. It’s the first — and most important — step to changing the way you spend.
2. Divide up your money. Having one checking account for both paying bills and everything else is a recipe for an unconscious-spending disaster. Split your money into two bank accounts: one for bill paying, and one for spending. Figure out how much you need for bills on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis (however often you get paid). Each time you get a paycheck, transfer the necessary amount for bills and put it into your bill paying account. Then, you’ll know exactly how much you have for spending. Use that account to buy things like groceries, entertainment and whatever else you need that week. If it starts to run too low too fast, you know you need to take a step back and rework your spending budget.
3. Maintain discipline. Once you know how much you can spend each week, try to stick to it. Maybe spending $200 on clothing just isn’t in the budget right now — it doesn’t mean it won’t be eventually.
4. Save for a rainy day. Who says piggy banks are just for kids? Start a tiny savings fund and put away some money each week — $10, $20, $100 (whatever is in the budget) — and let it grow. When you get the shopping itch, treat yourself to something you really want, like a nice dinner or a piece of jewelry you’ve been wanting for a while. Your new careful spending habits will make you feel good about the purchase — because you know you deserve it.
5. Use the right tools. More and more consumers are migrating to web and mobile applications to manage everything in their lives. Use a tool like Manilla.com, which lets you manage your bills, bank accounts, travel programs, subscriptions, and even household accounts, like Groupons, Netflix queues, OpenTable reservations, and more. Manilla sends automatic online bill pay reminders when your bills are due so that you always know what you owe. Being able to see the balances of your bank accounts and credit cards is essential in maintaining a balance in your spending.
There are several great ways to conquer your over-spending habits, so don’t limit yourself to just one or two. I’ve had a lot of success with these core five, and I’ve watched our customers transform the way they spend their money. Once you’re able to start managing your money in a way that works for you, you’ll start feeling more in control of your finances and you’ll feel more comfortable each time you make a purchase.
Sarah Kaufman is the managing editor of the Manilla Blog and marketing manager of Manilla.com, a free, award-winning and secure service that helps you manage your bills and other personal accounts in one place online or via mobile apps. Follow us on Twitter and connect on Facebook.