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How to Kick Bad Spending Habits

Do your days feel empty when there’s no delivery waiting? Do you find yourself browsing online shops when you’re bored? Is the mall your happy place? You might have a spending problem...

Spending money feels good. There, we said it. We know we’re all about growing wealth and planning for the future, but we also know that as humans, we love to make it rain. There’s our sensible side telling us to save for the future, invest wisely, protect ourselves, etc. and there’s the lizard brain side that runs around pantless and frantic, screeching at you to buy the thing (!!) NOW (!!!). Sometimes it just feels good to let the lizard run things for a while. But hear this: Do not let that scaly bastard run your life forever.

If you find yourself powerless to resist, there is hope. Sanlam Indie is here to teach your lizard how to be happy with less, not more (look, we’re leaning into the metaphor, just go with it).

The main thing to remember is that it’s not just about impulse control. It’s the same reason why crash diets don’t work - on paper it seems easy enough to just cut back, cut out and cut down, but it doesn’t take human nature into account. At some point you will give in to the cravings. So, the first step: 1. Make allowance for the things you love. If you’re into buying clothes, then add a column for that spend in your budget. If fancy restaurants are your thing, plan ahead and figure out where you’d like to go for the month. This forces you to take a step back and consider how you’re spending your money, so you can make sure you’re spending it where you most want to. Basically you’re budgeting for impulse, minus the regret.

The thing is, even if you plan ahead, you might still find yourself hard-pressed come payday. So this is where a recently contentious phrase may come in handy:

2. Build a ‘wall’. Make your money harder to get to. The minute you get paid, drop the money you want to protect into an account that has a waiting period for withdrawals, or invest it into an asset (that way your money won’t be accessible in cash form). What the lizard can’t see, won’t tempt it.

Now that’s out of the way, you can tackle some of the sneakier spends you have. We’re talking about the Needs.

3. Is it really a need, or do you just think it is? We can all end up paying for things without even stopping to think why. Take a look at your recurring expenses, and the items you buy. You obviously need a cellphone, but it might be better to go for an older (cheaper) model and a pay-as-you-go SIM card. Or maybe you could switch your gym membership to an off-peak membership. Start identifying and tailslapping all those extra R100 and R200 spends, and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll be saving.

You’ve heard of “work smarter, not harder”, so let’s switch it up a bit to “spend wiser, not less”. We know that sounds a bit off, but let us explain:

4. Double up your spending. Find opportunities to reduce your spending in one area, so you have more leftover for savings or the things you really love. Overall you could be spending the same amount of money each month, but it’ll be going where it’s most effective. So try consolidating your policies into one payment, or plan your grocery shopping so you don’t spend R100 on an underwhelming sandwich. Future you will thank you.

Of course, these are all relatively quick fixes. If your spending habits have landed you in serious debt, or if there’s a deeper mental root to your shopping problem, then you should consider seeking professional help. Psychologists and financial advisors are both equipped to help you, depending on what you need help with, and there’s no shame in taking steps to achieve the life you want.

Free yourself from worry, you beautiful human you. And check out some more Sanlam Indie money hacks, riiiiiiight here 👇🏾.

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