How You Spend = Your Priorities
I've been posting some not-so-sexy personal finance blog topics recently - what to do if you if you have a temporary financial struggle and when to cut up credit cards. It's probably because I keep seeing news stories about how many people can't afford a $400 or $1000 emergency expense. So I want to encourage people to stabilize their situation or even better, avoid getting into a bad one in the first place by taking a look at what they spend. Being in the nonprofit financial counseling industry, we see every financial situation you can possibly imagine. From my experience over the past almost 9 years, there have been a lot of conversations with the people we serve about prioritizing expenses when running short each month.
This made me think about spending in general and how we spend actually shows what we value. If you do online banking it's usually easy to look that information up.
I looked at my online banking at one point and though I wasn't struggling month to month to keep up on anything, I still found that I spent WAY too much on dining out. I think it was more than half of the expenses on my debit card going to restaurants. That freaked me out at the time and made me evaluate my spending. Even though it's embarrassing to admit, at least I took the time to notice it and make some changes.
I started more consistently grocery shopping, planning meals, and bringing lunch to work. I don't drink coffee (I know - I'm weird to most), but I do like a good chai tea latte and fruity beverages with caffeine. Instead of running down the street to the coffee shop, I started buying beverages at a cheaper price from the grocery store and bringing my own from home. These not so life-altering changes resulted in big savings. It's amazing how much money you can save when you're not buying food and drinks out as much.
When you get a chance, take a look where you spend the most money. That is what you put as a higher priority than other expenses.
You might find that you're 100% on board with where your money is going. However, you might decide that you need to make some changes and that's okay. I've said it before and I'll say it again: knowing is half the battle.
Not sure where your money goes? We can help. Give LSS a call at 888.577.2227 for your free financial counseling session. A counselor will work with you to create your accurate and realistic spending plan. You can also get started entering your expenses online by clicking the button below:
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.