Self-Discipline: The Key to Controlling Your Overspending

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Whether your most pressing financial goal is to pay off money you owe or to increase your savings and investments – the most important skill you’ll need is self-discipline.

Self-discipline can feel inaccessible for some people, and a lack of self-control can leave you feeling disappointed and defeated.

It’s important to note that self-control is one of the most challenging behaviors to master. Mastery of self-control and self-discipline is so tough to achieve because it involves changing behaviors that occur in high-emotion or even addictive situations like:

  • eating
  • losing weight
  • arguing with someone
  • smoking
  • playing video games
  • drinking alcohol
  • spending money

Some people are born with more than their fair share of self-discipline, while others struggle with self-control from a young age. If you fall into the latter group, don’t be alarmed! Self-discipline is a skill that can be learned. It’s not an easy skill to develop, but with the proper dedication, you can train yourself to be more self-controlled.

Spending money is fun and can feel rewarding and emotionally satisfying, which is why many people go shopping to relieve stress, boredom, anxiety or depression. Thus, it is easy to begin associating spending money with a feeling of happiness. As this behavior and response become habitual, it will lead to more and more spending in order to continue feeling happy.

Replacing a Bad Habit With a Good Habit

To gain discipline when it comes to over-spending, you’ll need to start practicing the responses you want to have regarding money. Over time, you’ll notice a shift in how you feel about spending as your new responses begin to replace the bad habits you have currently. Some tips to help you:

  • Set up a budget. You’ve heard this before, but we’re going to say it again. A good budget is a necessary building block on the way toward financial freedom. You need to start practicing spending only the amount of money that’s in your budget each month in order to make it into a habit.
  • Stop using credit cards. Cut them up or put them in a shoe box at the back of your closet. Do whatever it takes to get them out of sight and, most importantly, out of your wallet.
  • Question every purchase. Shop mindfully, asking yourself if you really need each item that’s made its way into your shopping cart.
  • Treat yourself. Once you’ve stuck to your budget for an entire month (or longer), reinforce this behavior by rewarding yourself with something you’ve been wanting (within reason).
  • Punish negative behavior. If you go out-of-bounds budget-wise, deny yourself something you enjoy until you get back on track with your spending.
  • Open a separate bank account. If you don’t already have one, a savings account is great idea. Every time you have an urge to make an unnecessary purchase, instead: put the equivalent amount of money into this account. Also, set aside a set dollar amount to go directly to this account from every paycheck.
  • Be accountable to someone. If your finances are really dire, you may need to be accountable to a debt relief professional at first. They can help you find additional ways to reduce your debt if you need more help. You can also have a close friend, spouse or sibling keep you accountable as you work to turn your new money choices into habits.

Studies have shown that developing self-discipline is possible at any age. It’s also been shown that you can get better and better at honing your self-control the more you practice your new habits. By changing your behavior from overspending to living within a budget, you’ll be able to pay down any debts you’ve accrued and build up your savings account!

 

Image credit: Luke Hayfield

 

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How to Talk About Money Before Saying ‘I Do’

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Image courtesy of Podknox

While everyone knows that there are many details to iron out before saying your vows, what many people fail to recognize is the critical importance of discussing money matters before walking down the aisle.

The fact that money comes between many married couples and is one of the leading causes of divorce today should be a red flag to engaged couples. Talking seriously with your betrothed about all financial issues that may arise within a marriage may be one of the best decisions you can make to ensure your future happiness.

Be sure to approach the discussion with an open attitude and demeanor, and don’t hold anything back. Let your betrothed know now about any and all debts that you may have incurred before you two met each other. Also, be sure to fully divulge how much money you actually make, and find out your fiance’s income as well. It is best to know what you’re stepping into before tying the knot. Of course, money isn’t everything, but it is a significant portion of everything. 😉

Talk about how you both feel about: saving for retirement, putting any of your future children through college, and your general attitude toward money. Don’t forget to discuss things like: gift-giving, saving, splurging, using coupons, etc.

Many adults simply haven’t been taught how to properly express themselves when it comes to financial matters. In fact, up to 70% of adults admit to having negative feelings when it comes to talking about money with a significant other. That is a scary number! Imagine how much worse the situation could be if left until after the vows have been taken and it’s “too late” to have that conversation.

You and your significant other certainly do not have to agree 100% on all matters relating to money and finances. The important thing to do is to find your way to an agreement or a compromise of sorts. It is important to take note of any differences in opinion that you both may have regarding money now. You can set money rules so that arguments don’t ensue later, causing dangerous friction within your newly formed family.

Remember that couples don’t always necessarily come from the same financial background, so it is important to find a balance that you both agree with and feel good about before the big day arrives. Set the tone for your future money discussions by remaining calm, respectful, honest and loving. Also, keep in mind that it will continue to be important for you to discuss money on a regular basis even after you walk down the aisle. Doing so will eliminate a lot of tension and conflict in that area, and your relationship will have the potential to be that much happier and more secure. Furthermore, it may very well prevent your relationship from becoming a divorce statistic.