This post may contain affiliate links (read more)
It’s hard to strike the right balance when it comes to spending and being on a budget. Some of us have trouble staying in budget and spending too much money, then there’s others like me who feel guilty at the thought of spending ANY money. The thing is, budgeting doesn’t mean depriving yourself. Despite many other opinions out there (particularly among the DR community) saying you should put EVERY spare penny to debt, I truly believe that you should factor in a little spending or fun money. If you go in all guns blazing you’ll likely burn out. To truly take control of your money means a complete mindset shift – and that doesn’t happen by trying to go cold turkey on your spending habits. I think that it’s okay to spend money. You just have to learn to be intentional with your spending.
So what does that mean exactly? It just means that you need to adopt more of a thoughtful approach towards your spending. Purchases should be considered and researched and not on a whim.
When you’re trying to be intentional with your spending, you need to stop and ask yourself a few questions. This is the method I shared on Instagram recently – it might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and then feel guilty about spending later.
If the answer to this question is no, then you already know you shouldn’t buy that thing you’re thinking about. And no, putting it on credit doesn’t mean you can afford it. If it’s something you really want, then try to think of ways you can make extra money to fund it. I have a whole category dedicated to making money here on the blog if you’re stuck for ideas.
But on the other hand, just because you CAN afford it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy it either. That money could be put to better use elsewhere if this is something you’re going to regret buying later.
You might also enjoy…20+ Genuine Ways to Make Money in the UK
So the next question to ask yourself is, “Do I need it?”. If you actually NEED something rather than want something, then yes – you should buy it. But truly be honest with yourself when asking this question. We tell ourselves we NEED a lot of things, when in reality we can easily do without.
That said, if you do want something rather than need it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy it. I’m all about allowing ourselves a few treats (within reason and carefully budgeted for of course). Just because something is a want rather than a need doesn’t mean it should be an instant no. But you need to ask yourself how much you actually want it.
Following on from above, if you ‘want’ something, but don’t necessarily ‘need’ it – is this something you’ve wanted for a while? If you go away and think about it for a while, would you still want it when you come back? Or would it be an impulse purchase? Something that you’ve only actually decided you want in the moment?
Quite often I find myself thinking, “I need new clothes” and I’ll open up a web browser and quickly fill a basket. Then I close the browser down and leave it for a while. By the time I come back to it, I’ve decided I actually don’t want those things I hastily added to cart. And this is 90% of the reason my wardrobe was once full of items still with their tags on.
If you come back and decide you do still want it, fair enough – but don’t go buying it just yet.
You might also enjoy…How to Overhaul Your Wardrobe
Okay, so now we’ve decided we need it or it’s something we’ve wanted for a while. But are we getting value for money? Have you shopped around and compared prices? Is there a promo code or voucher available for some money off? Can we get cashback?
I’ve wanted a window vac FOR AGES. Like, honestly it’s something I’ve put off buying for well over a year. It would make my life so much easier. It would make cleaning the bathroom a breeze and would sort the condensation problem out. But I kept asking myself, “do I need it?” and the answer was no and so I didn’t buy it because I felt guilty. Then I realised that it doesn’t matter that I don’t NEED it. It’s a considered, well thought out, intentional purchase….and it’s not even a huge amount of money!
So I went on Amazon and searched for the model I wanted and it was a good price – cheaper than the shops, so I could’ve bought it. But then I found it on Groupon for £7 cheaper….and the day I bought it TopCashback were offering 18.18% cashback on Groupon purchases – so I’ve now got another £3.26 on it’s way too – that’s a £10+ saving on what I was originally quite happy to spend. It all adds up! (In case you were wondering, it was this one).
The key is to be savvy. Do your research and get the most out of your money. And that’s how you will learn to be intentional with your spending.
We work hard for the money we earn, lets not waste it needlessly.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!