6 Common Spending Patterns That Could Impact Your Financial Health
Small expenses can add up quickly, before we realize how much we've spent. Do you feel like money goes in and out of your wallet within the blink of an eye? If you think you might be overspending to the point where it's affecting your savings, it's time to take a look at these common spending patterns and find out if they're affecting you.
Frequent Spending on Small Items
A recent survey by LendU revealed that millennials who frequently buy coffee spend an average of $38 per month on their favorite drink. This may not seem like a lot, but 27 percent of the survey respondents also admitted to spending more on coffee than saving for retirement. While 49 percent of those surveyed were spending more on restaurants than retirement. Although you shouldn't feel obligated to deny yourself a coffee or a meal out, saving for retirement should also be a part of your monthly budget.
Solution: If you want to dial back on small expenses, pay with debit cards or cash rather than credit. Set aside a spending allowance for coffee or restaurants, and try to stick with it. Whatever amount you save using this method can be added to your retirement savings.
Shopping as a Habit
If you enjoy shopping, a weekend trip to the mall can get you out of the house, but you may also find yourself spending on unplanned purchases.
Solution: Take a look at your actual spending versus your budget, and find areas where you're going over. Be willing to walk out of a store without spending anything if you can't find what you need. To help break your shopping habit, challenge yourself to a no spend weekend.
Impulse buying occurs when you purchase items without bothering to compare prices, wait for sales, or look for discounts. You may also buy sale-priced items you don't really need, just because you perceive them to be a bargain.
Solution: Question every purchase. Buying a stack of bargain books you never read, or clearance-priced clothes you don't love, might not be the best use of your spending dollars. To help avoid impulse buying, set your own guidelines around purchases and stick to them.
Paying Bills Late
If you're more relaxed about paying bills on time, you may wind up paying more in late fees and interest charges. The amounts may seem small compared to your overall balance, but when you're paying extra on a monthly basis you're not spending efficiently.
Solution: Stay on top of due dates by budgeting effectively, using a payment calendar, or setting up payment reminders through emails.
Not Tracking Spending
If you're out of cash by the end of the week and can't remember where your money went, you might be spending too much on items you don't really need.
Solution: Use a financial wellness tool or scan receipts into your phone to help you track what you're spending money on. Recognize any wasteful spending patterns and try to avoid falling into bad habits in the future.
Missing Savings Goals
Are you sure that you're saving enough? Are you aware of how much you're saving — or how much you should be saving, based on your age and income levels? If you can't answer these questions easily, it might be time to take another look at the spending versus saving ratio in your budget.
Solution: Use an automatic savings plan to divert a greater percentage of your income into savings. This helps keep you on track to achieve financial goals, and leaves you with less to spend on superfluous items. Conduct regular financial wellness checkups to make sure you're saving enough.
You don't need to cut out discretionary spending entirely in order to improve your financial wellness. Rather, try to become more mindful of where your money is going and how much you're actually spending.