10 Ways to build good money habits
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Building good money habits can change your life.
Being good with money can come down to being as simple as following a few simple rules and making them a part of your everyday life.
Bad money habits can financially ruin us, so it’s important to be AWARE of the habits you have and either change them, or make them a priority.
Here we’ve got 10 habits we adopted as our own to help us become a debt free family!
Be money aware to build good money habits
Being aware of what your spending is the first step to taking control of your money. If you’re not aware of where your money goes, it makes it very hard to control it.
I use a planner to make sure I’ve got everything covered and written down. That way, I’m able to keep my spending habits in check and stay aware of what I’m spending.
If you get into the habit of using a planner to budget, you’ll keep it in the forefront of your mind. That way, when you do spend, it’ll be mindfully and not mindlessly.
Feeling good about what you’re spending your money on comes from on spending money when it aligns with your goals. If you’re spending for the sake of it, slow down and check if you’re going to reach your goals if you carry on. Chances are you’ll reconsider.
Create good money habit goals
Know why you’re budgeting.
If you’ve got a reason and a goal in mind, good money habits become a lot easier to stick to. We tend to have smaller goals that we’re always working towards, as well a a bigger one that’s a bit further in then future.
Ultimately, we want to pay off all our debt. That’s a big goal to tackle at once. Instead, we’ve broken it down into smaller goals. We’ll clear all non-mortgage debt first, then a small fund, then the house, then our old age.
Yes, they’re still challenging tasks, but they’re manageable. Not so far in the future we’ll lose interest, but not so soon they’re not challenging.
Make sure you know what’s important to you, and remind yourself often. We all know we should save for retirement, but what about that time between now and then?
By having specific short term and long term goals, you’ll be way more likely to stay on track.
Use unexpected cash to pay off debt
Get into the habit of using any unexpected cash to pay down your debts. You’ll find they go down a lot quicker this way, and you’ll shorten the time until you’re non-mortgage debt free.
It’s so easy to see unexpected cash as a windfall you can use to buy extravagant things, but go back to your goals and check if spending like this aligns with them.
If you’re using the snowball debt repayment method you’ll see the numbers move down quicker, adding to the motivation and momentum of becoming a debt free family. Paying off debt early means you’ll be saving interest, so make that payment towards your debt and you’ll be making the most of every spare bit of cash.
Your future-self will thank you! And if you’ve already paid your non-mortgage debt, see below!
Use unexpected cash to boost savings
If you’ve already got rid of all your non-mortgage debts, use any unexpected cash to boost your savings.
Instead of mindless spending, keep the cash for something that’s already planned. Having money in an emergency fund creates security. So if this is one of your goals, I know mine is, then put your money away and spend it mindfully.
Asking yourself why you’re spending helps a lot. We often find that we’re spending to fill a void somewhere else.
Every time you’re tempted to spend, ask yourself “Do I need it?” “Do I have an emergency fund in place?”
Be honest and comfortable with your answers, and then act guilt free.
Set up direct debits for your bills
Setting up direct debits takes away the need to remember endless payment dates. When you’re on your journey to become debt free, you’ll likely have a number of debts that need paying each month.
If you’re using the debt snowball method, you’ll only be focusing on one debt at a time. The others all need the minimum payments made though, so automate them, then forget about them until it’s their turn to be paid off.
In our house we set all direct debits up to leave our account just after payday. Then the moneys gone, the bills have been paid and I know what we have left for the month.
I also include the money to pay down our debts in this. Take that money on the same day you pay your direct debits. Don’t let it be an after thought. Make it a priority.
Don’t ‘store’ your credit card details online
Make sure you don’t store your credit card details online.
Stores love it when you leave your card details with them, it makes tempting you to impulse buy so much easier for them.
Many websites store your details automatically, or make it so you’re not really aware you’ve said they can and if you have the usual sites a lot of us do as one click payments, stop these now!
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy online at all and often, they’re cheaper than the high street, making it a sensible option. However, make yourself think about the purchase first.
Having to go and get your card and manually type the card details in is often enough to curb any late night buys!
Make a good money habit of using cash, not cards where you can
I’m a HUGE fan of cash budgeting, and it’s a good money habit I hope never to break. Where I possibly can, I use cash, and it’s the one thing that’s changed my mindset towards money the most.
Handing over £100 for a jacket is really hard. Swiping your card for £100 is not.
If you have an amount of cash to last you the month, you naturally become a lot more careful with where you spend it. Things I used to buy without thinking have become things I can now live without.
I’m now firmly in the good money habit of using only cash, and if I don’t have it, I don;t spend it. I do still have a card on me when I know I’ll need it, but on the whole, 95% of my spending is now cash.
Spend less than you earn – good money habits
Think I’m stating the obvious? It’s amazing how many of us spend more each month than we have coming in.
We fell into this trap and know how easy it is to find yourself there. But you can get out, and it’s not as hard or as painful as you might imagine.
List all your outgoings and list all your incoming money. Be brutal. Somethings going to have to give, you’re going to have to make cut backs where you can.
Go through all your bills and see where you can make cuts. There will be some easy money to claw back, and other places you’re going to need to make sacrifices (TV subscription services…..just saying!).
Making good money habits means being honest about your spending. It’s not about saying you can never have something. It’s about knowing what you need to do to change your situation now.
We ditched our gym membership in order to save nearly £1000 a year. At some point we’ll rejoin the gym but right now, we have bigger goals that are more important to us.
It’s not that we’ve stopped exercising, we just now find other ways to do it that don’t cost money.
Use discount vouchers to make good money habits
Using discount vouchers is a good money habit to get into. If you’re going to go to a restaurant anyway, go to one with a 50% off voucher.
There are lots of websites where you can find discount vouchers, so just have a google when you know you’re going out and plan ahead. Being spontaneous is all good and well but plays havoc with making good money habits. For now, until you each your goal, use a discount voucher where you can.
Being loyal to one brand rarely pays. The discount offers generally to go new customers so be open minded and give new brands a go.
As well as restaurants, supermarkets often have discount vouchers. Try and rotate your supermarket shopping instead of going to the same one each week, and you’ll often have a supply of money off coupons available to you, as they try and entice you back.
Take an interest and read about money
Reading articles about finance will keep you current with the latest offers if nothing else.
At best, you might discover a real interest in finance that will let you set better smarter goals.
There are many websites out there that are really interesting. I find it really motivating to read about other families that have done what we’re doing.
We know that to achieve our family goals, we have to immerse ourselves in this 100%. Keeping up to date reminds us daily why we’re doing this, and reinforces to us that we’re doing the right thing.
Some other website you might like, that I’ve enjoyed are:
I’ve followed this site for years and find it great for coupons and discount vouchers, keeping up with what’s going on financially guides to reclaiming any money I can!
This is a stateside blog, with fantastic content by a couple who’s goals align with our own. They’re not as active on it as they used to be, having found their financial freedom, but the sites still packed with brilliant, inspiring articles.