New Year – new you?
As the year rolls to an end, you may be thinking about committing to some positive life changes to ring in a fresh start. It’s important not to succumb to pressure around ‘resolutions’ – especially ones that will make you unhappy. However, for many of us, improving our health, our financial prospects and our personal life is never a bad thing.
Sticking to a budget for your shopping habits is a common goal for many of us. But it’s also easier said than done. Here are some practical tips for successfully managing your money in the coming year.
1. Plan Ahead
Define your budget for various categories (food shopping, clothing and entertainment, for example). Of course, it might change, but having a ballpark figure for what you think is realistic will help set the tone from the start.
Making a core list for your regular household shop that prioritizes essentials is also key to sticking to your budget. That way, you can add any extras as and when the need arises.
2. Track and Monitor
Budgeting is easier than ever thanks to tools like Emma which can help track expenses and notify you when you’re nearing your limit.
Don’t feel bad if you need to adjust your budget as time goes by. Check your spending periodically and review where needed.
3. Change Shopping Habits
Avoid impulse buying. Yes, it’s only natural (hence the title) but take time to think before making a purchase. If it’s not on your list, consider if it’s a necessity.
If you’re tempted to buy something, give yourself a day or a week. Often, the impulse fades, and you might realize you don’t need it. And if not, happy shopping!
3. Smart shopping
It can often be tempting to purchase for convenience – for example, at the shop closest to you, or online. But it pays to look for deals, compare prices between stores, and use discounts or coupons whenever possible.
You could also consider purchasing non-perishable items in bulk to save money in the long run. Just be sure it’s something you’ll use and not simply an alluring deal.
4. Stay accountable
It can be tough to keep on track with a budget, especially if you’re only answerable to yourself. If you have someone you can trust to support you, why not share your goals with a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable?
Don’t forget to reward yourself and celebrate milestones when you stick to your budget for a set period.
5. Reflect and adjust
Don’t be afraid to take regular stock of what worked and what didn’t. Keeping to a budget is challenging enough without adding in the complication of it not meeting your needs.
Unexpected expenses can come along at any point in time, through no fault of your own. Allow some flexibility in your budget for such situations.
Remember, sticking to a budget takes time and practice. Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Instead, use them as a tool to keep moving forward!