Avoid mindless spending by planning
AT ONE point or another, we've all dabbled in discretionary spending - the unplanned or unnecessary purchases that sneak their way into our transaction history, sometimes without us even realising.
While some of these purchases are valid, some are also the result of mindless buying.
They are the convenience transactions that tend to occur on occasions when you're running late, you're disorganised, you've missed a deadline, or you've simply forgotten something. Feeling short of time or managing conflicting priorities can lead to cutting corners and spending money that normally wouldn't have been spent - and therefore wasn't accounted for in the budget.
This, combined with a growing cashless society, not only makes spending easier, it increases the likelihood of thoughtless money decisions.
Recognising the difference between a "need” and "want” is one of the best ways to avoid mindless spending, but it isn't always the easiest thing to do.
Suncorp's latest Cost of Living research found one in four people procrastinates about doing this very thing.
But it's important to note mindful spending isn't about not buying anything, it's about not buying everything and breaking bad habits - like planning to bring your lunch to work but buying a $15 sandwich, or opting for an Uber home when you intended to catch the bus.
Forecasting variable expenses is a great way to avoid unplanned costs. If you know your week is going to be chaotic, allow for additional "convenience” money in the budget.
While this may be used for purchases you're usually able to avoid (the takeaway dinner or transport to work), at least you'll be prepared for the expense.
It's also important to not lose sight of your big-picture goals, and allowing yourself the time to establish a realistic savings and spending plan (and having the discipline to stick to it).
Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself if you accidentally indulge in unnecessary spending.
It's like healthy eating; one chocolate or packet of chips isn't going to undo all your hard work. A minor unplanned expense won't push you completely off track, but if it's done regularly it can come at the cost of your big-picture goals.