Money expert reveals 7 tips to ditch bad spending habits and save £1,000sApril 7, 2021
IT can be all too easy to let your spending get out of hand, especially if you’re bad with money.
But there are easy ways to get on top of your finances, as we round up seven steps to kick bad habits.
The below tips are by personal finance author Clare Seal, as published in her book The Real Life Money Journal.
Her tips include how to highlight which spends aren’t really needed, reducing impulse buys and separating your “wants” and “needs”.
Clare told The Sun: “Being more mindful with my money has probably saved me thousands already.
“I really hope that will continue and compound into the future.”
1. Identify bad spending habits
Being bad with money was named as one of the worst habits Brits want to kick in a survey by Healthspan in 2018.
But where do you start? Clare suggests writing down three spending habits you want to quit on a piece of paper.
These examples don't have to be specific to cutting down on spending – it could be something you've noticed you do in response to a situation.
For example, if you tend to go shopping when you're upset or something isn't going to plan.
Or it could be that you stop checking your bank balance mid-month so that you don't notice any cash flow issues.
Once you've got these examples in front of you, it should be easier to start exploring why you have these traits.
Not only will this allow you to be more mindful with your money, but it also highlights an important link between your mental well-being and finances.
Where to get help with mental health
IF you, or anyone you know, need help with mental health, the following organisations provide support.
- CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
- Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
- Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
- Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
- Mental Health & Money Advice, www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/
2. Be more mindful of credit spending
Spending on credit – be it a credit card, buy now, pay later, or any other form of borrowing – means you're more likely to say yes to a guilty pleasure than if you had to part with your own cash.
This because you're more likely to appreciate the worth of something if you can physically see the money leave your account.
Previous research by Which? has also suggested you're more likely to spend more if you use buy now, pay later.
Clare recommends going through your accounts to work out what items you typically buy on credit.
From here, you may be able to see a pattern and work out where you can cut back.
Writing in her book, Clare said: "Paying with credit allows us to delay the effect of our puchase.
"Not associating the financial of something with the item itself can cause problems as it skews our judgement when deciding whether or not something is 'worth it'."
3. Are you spending emotionally? Break the cycle
Once you've figured out your bad spending habits, introduce some "circuit breaker" questions that you can ask yourself every time you're worried about making a bad spend.
For example, Clare suggests your first question could be: "Am I trying to fill a void?"
If the answer is yes, then you'd know not to carry on with that purchase.
If the answer is no, your next questions could be: "Am I enjoying this? Do I actually need this product?"
In her book, Clare has a full diagram of questions you can ask yourself.
If that seems a bit too complex, even just taking a step back and coming back to your purchase in a few days time could help give you clarity.
4. Go through this checklist to help reduce impulse spending
There are a few things you can do instantly that'll help resist to temptation to spend.
Clare suggests the following:
- Unsubscribe from marketing emails
- Delete shopping apps
- Remove your debit and credit card details from the autofill function of your computer and phone
- Disable thumbprint payments on your phone
- Always make yourself sleep on undecided purchases
- Have a phone curfew so you don't get tempted to shop in the evening
5. Separate your ‘wants’ and ‘needs’
Life is full of things we want to do, and things we have to do – and the same works for money, says Clare.
But when it comes to our spending, separating the two can give you a greater understanding of how to prioritise your finances.
When you're considering a purchase, Clare suggests writing each item down, how much it costs, then waiting a little while.
It could even help to add a separate column where you can say why you "need" it.
Once you've stepped away, if you find you've got by just fine without that item, it means you probably don't really need it.
Of course, it is absolutely ok to want something and it is impossible to spend every single penny on something you need – but thinking more about your money means you're less likely to regret a purchase.
Clare said: "My 'want list' has a 'why' column – not because I think everyone has to painstakingly justify everything they buy for themselves…
"But just to make sure everything on the list is there for the right reasons, and I'm not going to end up with buyer's remorse."
6. Work out your priority payments
Even if you need something, it doesn't necessarily mean you can afford it.
Once you've separated your "wants" from your "needs", Clare suggests adding a "priority" column so you can see which item you should be aiming to buy next.
Clare says she finds this useful when trying to avoid an impulse spend when being bombarded with adverts for products on social media.
Always pay off priority bills and debts first and if you're really struggling, seek free advice or talk to your lender or provider.
How to cut your bills
IF you’re struggling financially, you might be able to cut the cost of your bills to help you get out of the red.
Council tax: You can apply for a council tax reduction on the Gov.uk website but you'll need to meet certain criteria. Your bill could be cut by as much as 100 per cent if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Carers who look after someone in the household for at least 35 hours a week are also exempt from paying.
Water: Households might be able to save money by getting a water meter but it all depends on how much you're using. To check if it's finacially worthwhile, use the Consumer Council for Water's free ater meter calculator.
Rent: If you have the space available and your landlord or local authority says it's ok to do so, you might want to consider getting a flatmate. Not only will you split the cost of the rent, but also the other bills.
Hire purchase: If you're struggling to make your repayments on your hire purchase, you can usually end the contract by returning the goods. You will have to pay all the instalments due up to the time you end the agreement but this will limit the amount you owe. Contact Citizens Advice for free for more help with this.
Gas and electricty: MoneySavingExpert says families can save £330 on average by switching from Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) to a better rate. Use a comparison site such as MoneySuperMarket or Energyhelpline to see what deals are available.
Mortgage: If you get into debt with your mortgage payments, don't wait for your lender to chase you. Work out what you can afford using the Citizens Advice budgeting tool so you can discuss your payment options moving forward with your mortgage provider.
Secured Loan: Your secured loan might be covered by the Consumer Credit Act and if it is, you may be able to apply for a Time Order. This is a special agreement by the courts allowing you more time to make payments. Secured loans not covered by the Consumer Credit Act include gas, electricity or water meters, payments that need to be written off in full, mortgages, credit union loans, loans from an employer and some short term trade agreements.
County Court Judgements: If you receive a County Court claim form talk to a free debt advice service straight away. This includes Citizens Advice (0808 800 9060), StepChange (0800 138 1111) and the National Debtline (0808 808 4000).
TV licence: Some households are eligible for a reduced fee or free TV Licence. Check here to see if you are entitled to a reduced or free rate.
7. Now look at ways to afford your want list
You've sussed out what things you "want" – so now it's time to work out how to afford them.
It can be a good idea to create an allowance for treat purchases, or if you're not desperate for it straight away, see if you can collect loyalty points to put towards this spend.
Most of the major supermarkets have loyalty schemes – including Tesco, Morrisons and Nectar at Sainsbury's.
If do want it right now, and you don't have the money, consider buying the same thing second-hand.
You could also ask the retailer if they have any samples that are going cheaper, or refurbished items they can sell you.
Alternatively, Clare suggests another great way to raise funds for an expensive purchase is to sell old stuff that you don't need anymore.
Looking for more ways to save cash? We've rounded up 20 tips to make you richer, including no spend months and saving challenges.
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And we've rounded up 16 tips to slash your supermarket shopping bill by HUNDREDS of pounds a year.
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