Have you ever actually taken time to look at how much money you waste each and every day?
If you have, then I’m sure you are aware of just how easy it is to fritter money on a daily basis.
If you have never stopped to looked at your daily spending….You may be in for a shock.
In this article we shall look at how to assess and hopefully improve your finances via self accountability.
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In order to develop a modern wealth mindset, you have to have the correct attitude to money.
It is an old cliche that a fool and their money are easily parted.
No one considers themselves a fool, yet, the majority of people spend far more than they realize on needless purchases.
The amount of people who live paycheck to paycheck is staggering.
Now, I’m not saying that this is always the individuals fault.
Life is life and some people just find themselves in a tight financial spot for periods of their life.
However, almost all of us, are not as savvy spenders as we may think.
All of us are guilty in one way or another of frittering money daily.
This can take the form of impulse buys online or at the mall, to eating out more than is needed.
Everything you buy starts with a simple choice.
Buy it or not.
It really is that simple.
Need it or not, rarely even gets considered by most people these days.
All this comes down to three simple aspects of a wealth mindset.
Financial accountability, financial discipline, and financial intelligence.
Before we go into the exercise I will describe my opinion on both in brief.
Far too many people blame their financial situation on everything except themselves.
If money comes in, then it just takes a little accountability to see where it is going out.
Most people these days use their cards instead of cash.
Therefore, it is going to be easy for them to to see exactly what they spent, and where they spent it.
For those that use cash, it will be a little bit harder to account exactly where they spent the money.
It will however, be easy to see how often they are withdrawing cash from their account.
Financial accountability is simply taking stock and responsibility for personal spending.
Financial discipline is the trait of exercising restraint with regards to spending.
Just how many people do you know that possess this trait?
This trait is not about being “tight” with money, it is about not being impulsive and wasting it.
Simply put, financial intelligence is understanding money.
Not only how to make it, but how to retain it and spend it intelligently.
You will find that a person with high financial intelligence will spend money on assets and consider purchases carefully before making them.
A person with lower financial intelligence will typically buy liabilities or simply waste the money on needless impulse purchases.
Now you have a basic grasp of these terms we shall move on to the exercise to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie in these aspects.
What you need for the exercise.
A pen and paper.
Access to your bank account statements.
This exercise should take 20 mins approx.
I will divide it into two sections initially, card and cash.
For those of you that typically use a debit or credit cards for purchases, this exercise is somewhat easier.
Simply go through your bank account statement and take note of what you spend outside of essential bills, frequency, and where you spend it.
Do NOT include things such as Rent, Car Insurance, Utilities, etc.
Only include things such as eating out, purchases at the mall, impulse candy bar purchases, movie tickets, bar tabs, etc.
Also note things you do every day such as buying coffee, cigarettes, and monthly things such as video streaming services.
Here is a brief example to illustrate my point.
Purchase. Cost. Date.
Fast Food $8 1/7/18
Movie Tickets $20 1/9/18
Fast Food $9 1/10/18
Bar Tab $40 1/12/18
Shopping at Mall $170 1/14/18
Pizza Delivery $25 1/15/18
Shopping Online $80 1/18/18
Bar Tab $30 1/19/18
Fast Food $9 1/20/18
Fast Food $11 1/22/18
Shopping Online $45 1/23/18
Bar Tab $35 1/26/18
Breakfast every day on the way to work. $8 x 20 (5 days x 4 weeks) = $160
Gas For Car $30 per week x 4 = $120
Video Streaming Service $15 per month.
Cable Bill $100 per month.
OK, so that’s enough to illustrate my point.
Let’s total that up.
Random Spending = $482
Monthly Routine Spending = $395
$482 + $395 = $877
So, the person in this example spends $877 in one month on things that can be reduced or eliminated completely.
If we use that number to get an average for the year, 12 x $877, we get $10524 based on 12 calender months.
Now of course, the monthly amount will fluctuate, but just for simplicity of the example we shall use that number.
$10524 a year, after tax, spent on things that are all subject to reduction or elimination.
Most are habit or impulse based.
Fast Food, besides being bad for you, is also just an excuse to avoid preparing food at home.
Now, I’m not saying do not treat yourself occasionally, order a pizza for movie night for example.
I am, however, pointing out that it is pure laziness most of the time when it comes to fast food.
The breakfast every morning for work is the same thing.
Is it that much of a chore to have breakfast at home and make your own coffee?
Breakfast alone is costing $1920 a year.
Why have a video streaming service AND cable?
Most shows are on video streaming the same day, or not long after, these days.
Cable is mostly just commercials with repeats of shows mixed in!
The cable is costing $1200 a year.
So, let’s just use these two numbers for a moment.
$1920 + $1200 = $3120 a year that could feasibly be eliminated.
I’m aware that breakfast still has to be paid for at home via groceries, but again for the sake of simplicity, lets just say $3000 can be eliminated.
That is almost 30% of this persons yearly frittering eliminated. ($3000 being roughly 30% of the $10524 total)
We have not even considered the impulse mall purchases, online shopping, fast food, and bar tabs.
So, to keep it brief, you can see how easily this person could save thousands of dollars per year.
If you tend to use cash, or most likely a mix of cash and card, then the concept is the same.
Simply go through your bank statements and see what you are spending on, but also see how much and how often you withdraw cash.
When it comes to spending cash, you will have to take time to recall what you spent and where.
It may be difficult to remember the several candy bars and soft drinks you purchased, so be as accurate as you can.
But, if you tend to just fritter all the cash you withdraw, then you can simply aim to reduce the amount and frequency of your withdrawals.
So, if you are withdrawing $300 a week and frittering, then simply by doing $150 a week you have a 50% reduction.
Obviously more reduction is better, but also don’t get too carried away to the point you do not enjoy life.
My point here is to make you realize just how much you may spend needlessly each month.
Multiply this number by 12 months and most people blow through a lot of needless spending.
Usually thousands per year.
Now consider the fact that a lot of people increase these habits and impulses alongside their pay increases.
I know people that earn six figures and blow through all of it every single year and also carry significant credit card debt!
This is nothing to do with income and all about financial discipline.
Give a person with poor financial discipline whatever wage you like, they will find ways to live paycheck to paycheck.
Give a person of lower income but high financial discipline a moderate wage and they will build up wealth.
Go through your statements and see what you can eliminate from your spending habits.
If you can eliminate breakfast even every other day by making it at home, you will save a lot of money per year.
Setting yourself a monthly shopping budget instead of impulse buying can also save you big money.
Limiting the amount of cash withdrawals and the amounts will drastically reduce your spending.
I’m sure that if you take the time to look at those numbers in front of you and exercise a little bit of financial discipline, you could avoid frittering money.
So many people, perhaps yourself included, are buried in debt and/or operating with no reserves in the bank.
As they say, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
By reducing their spending they could build a reserve and reduce their debt.
If you wish to be comfortable, let alone wealthy, you need to develop your financial discipline.
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