Everything from the family that raised us to what we see in the media and popular culture shapes how we spend our money. As a result of this, some people might fall into spending habits that can stay with them throughout their lives. But fortunately, having a clear idea of what a good and bad spending habit is can help a person make a change for the better—no matter their age.
What Is a Healthy Spending Habit and How Do You Create One?
Healthy spending habits can be best defined as actions that allow you to be in control of your finances and make purchases that align with your financial goals and priorities. Though you might only be aware of your spending when it comes to major purchases, such as a new home or car, it’s crucial to look at your everyday expenses to identify whether your money habits are helping or hurting your overall financial health.
And because our team is here for you on every step of your financial journey, we’ve highlighted some healthy financial habits and how you can implement them
into your life.
Think Before You Buy
Sometimes it can be tempting to purchase the newest smartphone or car without thinking too much about the potential financial implications. Though these purchases may seem important in the moment, they can quickly add up. This is why a great habit to consciously practice is pausing before making any major purchases and thinking about the long term implications.
For those who tend to make large impulse purchases, the best course of action may be to set a waiting period for yourself. If you're buying a vacation package on a whim, consider waiting at least 48 hours before checking out. For bigger ticket items, such as buying a car, you may want to extend the waiting period to a couple of days or even weeks, as this can give you the time to look at your financial situation and determine if the purchase will ultimately benefit you in the long run.
Make a Budget
Some people make purchases without ever looking at their bank accounts. By not paying attention to their money habits and failing to create a budget for their spending, these individuals can end up going into debt or become incapable of paying back any pre-existing debts. Not only can this affect a person’s credit history, but it can potentially prevent them from making large purchases in the future, such as taking out a mortgage or getting approved for a loan.
If you only use debit or credit cards, consider creating a financial journal and budget for yourself that you revisit often. This might look like simply having a physical copy of your finances that you continually make edits to or using an app to keep track of your spending. If you’re a member at Teachers, you can also use our online banking money management tool, which allows you to check your balances at any time, look at your transaction history, and more.
Plan Purchases In Advance
If you're the type of person who purchases something because it's appealing at that moment, like magazines while checking out at a grocery store or items from ads online, you may be an impulse buyer. This type of shopper finds joy from buying new things, but often spends too much on items they don’t need.
In case impulse buying is your vice, it might be helpful to either shop with someone else or find alternative ways to shop to reduce your temptation to spend. For example, you can purchase your groceries online for delivery so that you don't have so many immediate options or use an adblocker on your internet browser to avoid tempting advertisements.
Some shoppers buy the first option available and don't shop around. Though most of us might not think too much into this, not considering other options can end up costing thousands of dollars when it comes to things such as buying plane tickets, getting a car, or even considering what apartment or home to live in.
Sometimes people make up their minds to buy something and think it has to be done immediately, but this is how expensive mistakes are made. Instead, for more significant purchases, try to check at least four or five competitors to see if you can find a cheaper option before buying.
How to Create Smart Spending Habits at Different Ages
Although some habits are the same regardless of age, our finances tend to change as we get older, requiring a different approach to better fit our current needs and priorities. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or a retiree, here are some ways you can make smarter spending decisions at any point in life.
Most teens are fortunate enough that their families handle their finances. Whether this is the case or not, your teenage years are an excellent time to start building those good spending habits that can last with you throughout life. A good first step is creating a budget that focuses on saving. For instance, if you have a part-time job after school, try to set aside 10% of your paycheck each month to put toward savings or investing. Or, if you receive money for birthdays or holidays, instead of spending it, try to put it toward your future education costs or any financial goals you want to reach. Not only can this set you up for financial success, but it can keep you focused on spending that counts.
College is a thrilling time when you're meeting new people and having new experiences. But at the same time, you’re also likely not thinking as much about your spending. If you're in college, it’s essential to learn how to manage your money, especially if you’ve taken out student loans. In an effort to create smarter spending habits, we recommend trying to learn how to cook your own food, buying reused textbooks instead of new ones, or finding a job on campus so you can set aside the extra funds to start saving for any post-college expenses.
Adults who are just beginning their career may be more likely to overspend, making this a critical time to learn healthy spending habits. Since adults right out of college may be dealing with student loans, this is an excellent time to start thinking and preparing for the future. This might mean spending less on food and activities, or finding a roommate or less expensive living situation to save extra money. Doing so can help you put any extra funds toward repaying student loans, getting a jumpstart on retirement savings, or beginning the process of saving for a future home.
For parents, it can be important to utilize what you have saved to make smart spending decisions that can benefit you now and in your older age, like investing your money safely for any future college or retirement savings and making purchases that can last, such as on a forever home. Along with this, having children means more dinner plates to serve, which highlights the importance of creating a weekly budget so you can better save on groceries and other necessary expenses.
Retirees may feel like they have free reign to do as they wish, which results in many of them spending freely in their older age. But it’s important for people in this age group to be careful about how much they spend and how quickly, as what you have saved is supposed to last for your entire life. Curb the appetite for spending by treating yourself occasionally to nice things and finding different ways to boost your savings, such as downsizing your home or investing your money in ways that will continue to grow. This can not only help you maintain a solid financial position, but it can keep you prepared in case of an emergency.
Although we all have different spending habits, it’s important to be aware of the ones that can help create a healthy financial life. Overall, try to be thoughtful with your purchases and ensure you build up savings. And in case you’re having trouble getting started, our team at Teachers is available to answer any questions you might have and help you find the best way to take control of your finances. To get in touch with us, simply click here.