One of my favorite personal finance blogs had an interesting reader post today on addiction to spending that got me thinking. I am really proud of how I've taken responsibility for my financial situation in the past six months and how far that I've come. I thought that it might be good to note the behaviors and new habits that have really helped me change.
1. I have been very good about not shopping for things that I haven't already noted that I needed. (I did make a couple of mistakes.) To do this, I avoid the mall entirely. I think that I've gone twice in six months - once to buy an interview outfit. The second time I spent money on items I wasn't planning on and I remembered why I am avoiding the mall. This also applies to general window shopping or superstores. I have a really hard time with Target. I use their pharmacy and every time I run in to pick up a prescription, I have to really focus so as not to wander the rest of the store.
2. I have a short list of personal finance and frugality blogs that I read daily. I find it really encouraging to read about other people's struggles and successes and I've been learning a lot of tips on how to save money and still live a rich life. Here are some of my favorites:
Get Rich Slowly
Blogging Away Debt
Simple Living America
3. I've created and revised and revised again my budget. I did in it Excel because I didn't want to spend on a new software program and felt nervous to do it online. Plus I know it well enough to tweak it to all my own needs. But the really successful part of this is that I've kept it updated. I use it to track my bill payments, all of my discretionary spending and my debt snowball. Seeing where my money goes has helped me to tailor the categories and be able to anticipate costs instead of just reacting to them.
4. I have set very specific savings goals. I would like to pay for a wedding in cash when the time comes. In five years, I would like to be fully debt-free and that includes my student loans. Specific goals help me to keep from being tempted to spend on unneeded items. Sometimes it kind of sucks to not buy any new clothes and wear things out before replacing them, but ultimately I know the other goals are more important and plus it's better for the environment anyhow.
5. I have set a very small amount of money in my budget for me to blow on whatever I want each week. It's just $20, but with a little planning that pays for some time out with my friends and maybe a couple of coffees or a little treat.
I am really interested in hearing how other people stop themselves and keep focused on the bigger goals. I love hearing new ideas and tips of how to stay on track.