Get a handle on spending with fresh year aheadThe new year brings new goals, and those goals often include financial ones. Saving money is the third most popular goal, according to a survey of 5,000 people by 43things.com. And the way to save money is to either make more or spend less. For most of us, the latter is the most realistic option.
By: Dan Serra, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The new year brings new goals, and those goals often include financial ones. Saving money is the third most popular goal, according to a survey of 5,000 people by 43things.com. And the way to save money is to either make more or spend less. For most of us, the latter is the most realistic option.
But that doesn't mean it's not challenging. Budgeting often fails for many people because our brains are not wired to maintain a spending consistency. Part of that blame has to be because we have become a cashless society with the proliferation of credit cards. We don't think about our spending when we can flash credit cards. According to an M.I.T. researcher, this is one of the reasons people fail in budgeting. Spending with cash is more painful and results in spending less.
So if we fail at budgeting, what can be done to improve the odds of success? If you believe M.I.T., the first thing to do is get rid of the credit cards.
Closing them all may not be the best option because they might be needed someday and they can help your credit score. Instead, why not do your own "credit freeze" and put them in a bowl of water and place it in the freezer. That way, when temptation is calling, by the time the ice melts, the temptation may pass.
A psychological tactic to help in sticking to budgets is challenging a spouse or friend on who can spend less. The one who spends more than the other must buy the winner a gift or put a certain amount in the winner's savings account. People often become more serious with spending when there is a consequence of losing money.
Another strategy is not to keep a budget at all, but keep a savings plan. Determine an amount to save each month, usually 5 percent to 15 percent a month, and don't worry how the rest of the monthly income is spent. Save that amount the first of every month. This way, it meets a goal of building savings or retirement accounts for the future without having to worry if there is any money left at the end of the month to save.
Thinking differently can give anyone an advantage in managing money.