When you first opened this post, you might have thought you were going to find three magic questions you could ask a vendor, a lender, or a financial institution that would get you some kind of a refund or a rebate. However, the truth is that, like all things, the answers and the power we need to change does not come from any external force we would like to believe has some kind of quick fix for our finances, but rather, it comes from inside of ourselves.
When it comes to financial well-being, our choices about how we spend and save money are as important as the amount of money we make. This is why it’s imperative to get real about what and why we choose to spend our financial resources in the ways that we do.
Get into the habit of asking yourself three questions before you spend:
1. Can I afford this?
2. Is this spending in line with my goals?
3. If not, why am I doing it?
When we spend money that does not align with our goals and priorities, something else is going on. What are the messages you tell yourself to justify that spending? “If I don’t buy my child toy x, am I a bad parent?” “It’s okay to go into credit card debt. I’ll pay it back when things pick up.” “I can’t afford to budget.”
These messages are rarely true. Hence, this is why it is important to have a clear picture of your goals and what they cost, in order to stay motivated to spend in ways that leave resources for what you really want.
Also, get real about your budget. I recently had a woman write down how much money she made per hour and keep that number in her wallet near her credit card. Now, each time she makes a purchase, she is reminded of how much time it will take for her to pay for it. That extra moment of pause allows her to ask herself, “Is this really worth the time?”
It’s also important to not go it alone as you navigate the challenging emotions that can lead to overspending. Share your budget and your concerns with someone you trust, so they can help you stay on track. Be sure to check in with them regularly, and ask if you can provide a helping hand to them as well.