Welcome to the New Year – things are definitely going to be different this time, right? You’re going to get back into the gym, start spending less and saving more and overall be the person 2.0 you know you can be. Great! Here’s a few ideas for how to help yourself be successful.
First, if you haven’t established a baseline for how you spend (for whatever reason – it doesn’t matter); start passively tracking using a tool like Mint. In apps like this you will link your bank accounts and they will work in the background, keeping track of your spending. Your bank may have something very similar; it’s less about which you use and more about just using one. Here’s the first tough part – you need to be patient and allow these programs to gather at least (3) months of history. Why? Because we want to understand where you are spending, and you may find some easy “wins” – things like the random convenience store purchase or just how often Amazon is charging your account.
It’s become super simple to link credit cards to online stores, which leads to almost unconscious spending. Unconscious, because we don’t have any time to process what we are purchasing. Instead of a “cool down” period while you get up and get the card, you just click through and it’s done. Removing the card data and not allowing the sites to remember could be a great first start.
But wait until you have at least (3) months of historical data. This is important for all the tips I will be sharing, because the baseline is going to be what shows you your success. Without a history, it’s easy to become discouraged and feel like you’re not accomplishing anything – which can lead to a regression to old habits. The history showing how much you’re not spending on a monthly basis, in comparison to previous months, reflects the work you’re putting in to better yourself.
Note I said “not spending”, I didn’t say “saving”. That’s the second part of the equation. Once you’ve identified where you can get a few “easy” wins, you want to earmark that money for a specific goal. Set up an account just for this goal, and move the money into it – immediately (when you are reviewing your account). If you wait until the end of the month, or some other arbitrary date, you run the risk of spending it on something else. Stay tuned for additional ways to not spend so much.