PHOTOGRAPH: HONGQI ZHANG, 123rf.com
Do your credit card bills give you a near heart attack every month? No matter how prudent you think you’ve been with your spending, those bills invariably take a hefty chunk out of your pay cheque. It’s hard to stop using your plastic, especially when it holds the key to all the shopping in the world. But here’s what you need to do.
1. Switch to using cash right now
It may be painful but going cold turkey is the way to go if you want financial freedom. Cut up your cards and switch to a debit card so you’re limited to spending only as much as you have in your bank account.
Even better, use cash to pay for all your purchases. The act of handing “real” money to someone is psychologically more painful than swiping your credit card, and this will get you thinking twice about parting with it.
2. Start an expenses log
Keep all your receipts and write down every transaction you make and how much was spent. Yes, it’s tedious but it’ll help you become aware of your spending. Do you tend to pick up seemingly inconsequential items while queuing for the cashier at the supermarket? Do you give yourself little treats for a hard day’s work when you walk past a boutique? Do you shop when you’re stressed? When you’re conscious of your spending, you’re more able to avoid compulsive shopping.
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3. Find your triggers
Once you have an expenses log place, you’ll be able to easily pick out patterns in your spending. You might be surprised to find that you’ve blown $100 this month on chocolates alone. Identify your weak spots so you can avoid the shops that sell them.
4. Do you need it or want it?
Your goals is to cut your spending so for everything that you intend to buy, whether it’s food or clothes to beauty products, ask yourself whether you need it, or simply want it.
5. Set limits
Now that you know roughly what proportion of your income you spend on each category, set realistic quotas for each one. Start by reducing your spending in each category by 10 per cent, with 5 per cent increments every few months when you find you are able to keep to your budget. Over time, controlling how much you spend will become easier and you will reap the rewards of increased savings.
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