When you’re trying to navigate the ins and outs of your busy life, bad habits can sometimes start to creep in without you even realizing. Maybe you’ve let your kitchen get messy and disorganized, or maybe you spend way too much time staring at your phone. But things may get a little more serious when you start picking up bad financial habits. Whereas a messy kitchen might leave your house a little disorganized, poor money management can have a serious impact on your finances. Keeping up with better money habits might require you to make some big changes, and sometimes it might help to wipe the slate clean. This is how a spending cleanse might help you shake free from some of these bad spending habits.
A spending cleanse is a way for you to evaluate how you spend and manage your money, and try to cut out some of the bad habits that have crept into your life. During this process, you’ll focus on implementing a spending limit for a specific period of time. The amount of time and specific spending parameters that you set can vary depending on your particular situation and lifestyle. For example, you may decide to cut out your coffee purchases for the week, or maybe you take a more extreme approach and stop eating out altogether. Whatever you decide, the idea is to gain more insight into how you spend your money and start picking up better money habits. You’ll also probably save a few bucks along the way!
So if you think it’s time to clear the slate and work towards implementing better money habits, here are six ways to help you do that.
When you’re in the middle of your cleanse and struggling to keep up, you’ll need something to hold onto to keep you going. A good way to keep yourself chugging along is to stay focused on why you’re doing it in the first place. You might be stuck in an endless cycle of waiting for that next paycheck to pay the bills, or maybe you want to try to get ahead on your monthly expenses. Whatever the reason is, use it as a constant reminder of why you’re trying to work in some better money habits into your life. When things get tough, this may be just what you need to keep going.
The first tangible step in this process is to figure out how long you want this cleanse to go for. If you want to start small, start with trying to implement some better money habits for just a few days. The last thing you want is to get over-ambitious, shoot for a whole month, give up part way through and get dejected. Starting small may help to give you a more attainable goal to focus on. When you start to feel more confident and secure in your ability to keep up with the good money habits you’ve been working on, you can extend this period to several weeks or even an entire month.
You should also keep in mind that if you have a series of important events coming up, it’s probably not the best time to start your cleanse. For example, if you have a vacation coming up this month, you may not want to have to worry about your spending as much. While there are things you can do to help cut back on your travel expenses, It might be hard to keep your cleanse going during your trip.
Take a look at your calendar, pick a realistic amount of time, and set your dates.
Now it’s time to decide what you’re going to be giving up during your cleanse. There’s a lot of room for variation here, but try to think about some of the things that you spend your money on that you may not need to. Maybe you eat out for lunch too often and want to start packing your own lunch. Maybe you’ve been spending a lot on ride sharing services and want to start walking or biking more often. Or maybe you want to take a more extreme route and cut spending on everything that isn’t essential. It might also help to take a look at your expenses from the previous month and see if you can pinpoint any bad spending patterns you’d like to curb.
It’s up to you to then decide what your problem areas are and what better money habits you want to implement.
Now that you know how long your cleanse will last and what you’re going to be cutting out, it’s time to put the wheels in motion! A tip that might be helpful is to try to only spend cash for the duration of your cleanse.
When all you have to do is tap or swipe your card to make a purchase, spending money is easier than ever. And when spending is easier, tracking these purchases might become a little more difficult. When you restrict yourself to spending cash, you can monitor exactly how much money you’re taking out and may become more aware of when you’re spending money.
Throughout this cleanse, you’ll need to track what you’re spending money on and instances where you’re not spending. After all, the point of this exercise is to start implementing better money habits and that becomes a lot harder when you don’t know where your money is going. You might find that some of the smaller expenses add up more than you think.
For example, make note every time you make a coffee at home instead of grabbing one on your way to work. If your friend asks you to go to a bar and you steer your afternoon to a bike ride instead, write it down. Outdoor activities are a great way to spend some time hanging out with friends when you’re on a tight budget.
These are occasions where you might normally spend money, but you’re not in these instances. When you’ve finished your cleanse, you might have an easy time keeping up with these better money habits as opposed to falling back into your normal routine.
If you want these better money habits to stick, you’re going to have to evaluate how important the things are that you’ve started to remove from your life. Do you really miss going out for lunch everyday, or the couple hours a week it takes you to put together your lunches for the week at home? Do you really miss stopping for a coffee on your way to work instead of making one at home? Do you get a sense of accomplishment when you mange to cut back on your monthly expenses, contribute to your emergency savings, or pay off your student loan debt?
Evaluating these things to help you decide what habits you think you might have an easier time incorporating into your life on a regular basis, and what things you may not want to give up.
If you’ve successfully made it through your cleanse, that’s something to be proud of! But this doesn’t mean that it’s time to dive back into your old habits. You’ve been trying to incorporate better money habits into your life for a reason, so now that you’ve gotten more of grasp on how you spend your money, it’s up to you to keep up with these good saving habits.
Just remember that the aim of this process is to ultimately make some long-lasting changes and start to save money on a regular basis.
Do you have any tips for keeping up with better money habits? Share below!