Analysis: KALEMBWE SAKUBITA
EVEN if you have the best of intentions, you can still find yourself getting into trouble with your money – especially if you have fallen into some dangerous money habits.
If you have been struggling with your finances in 2017, take a look at the following points to make sure you are not sabotaging yourself with these bad habits.
The first habit you need to leave in 2017 is impulse purchasing. Impulse purchases are all about emotion. You see a ‘sale’ you do not want to miss, or an item you want to have immediately. You jump to buy it before you think rationally about whether you really need it or can afford it.
To curb impulse spending, force yourself to wait a certain period (it could be a day or two or even 30) before pulling the trigger on a purchase. It will give you time to think about your decision, and chances are you will realise you do not need it after all.
Not budgeting is the second bad habit you should leave in 2017. You will never stay afloat financially – never mind actually getting ahead – if you do not have a budget in place and know how to stick to it. A budget allows you to see how much money you are bringing in and where it is all going. It enables you to make changes that help you save more money and avoid going into the red each month.
If you have been following our analyses on budgeting, you should by now have a faithful budget record either through a notebook or spreadsheet. Budgeting does not have to be a big chore. All you have to do is pop into your record each day to make sure you are staying on track and make adjustments as needed.
Borrowing to consume is another bad habit you throw into the dust bin of 2017. Unless you are able to pay the balance off in full each month, borrowing to consume is one of the worst things you can do for your finances. This is especially if you are using them to live above your means. Every kwacha you borrow (in whatever form) will cost you many times more in interest. You could spend years of your life and thousands of Kwacha paying down purchases you do not even remember making. No purchase is so important that it is worth entrapping you in such a habit.
Love of convenience is another habit you should not carry with you into 2018. Every once in a while, a “convenience-purchase” can be a nice treat or a necessary exception if you are in a hurry. But if you find yourself regularly making convenience purchases, you are just being lazy. Convenience will cost you. Avoid getting fast food every day and learn to make a few basic meals in bulk that you can enjoy throughout the week. Stop buying a pricey cup of coffee on the way to work every morning and get up five minutes earlier to brew a cup at home. Do the same with your lunch. Simply have it packed in your bag and warm it later for your meal at lunch. A little extra work on your part could wind up saving you big time.
Everywhere I have been this year to conduct consumer education, I have not only talked about needs and wants, I have gone further to address personal vices as well. Yes, this includes traditional “vices” like drinking, smoking, gambling and getting involved in financially unhealthy relationships. But it also includes less-obvious vices like eating out way too much or being a shopaholic. Basically, anything that tempts you to spend large amounts of money you know you should not be spending is a vice.
Quit these bad habits and your life, not just your wallet, will be happier in 2018. Happy New Year!
The author is FNB Zambia consumer educator.