Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES -- Living from paycheck to paycheck is all too common for many New Mexico families, says a New Mexico State University consumer education specialist. Even when people make more than enough to pay off monthly debts and regular expenses they may have money problems.
People who understand why and how they spend money may be able to control their spending behavior, said Susan Wright with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.
"Spending habits have five parts: a drive that causes you to go to the store, a stimulus that attracts your attention and encourages you to buy, a decision to say 'yes' or 'no' to the temptation, an act, and a consequence," Wright said.
With this psychology in mind, she offers 10 strategies to help change spending habits.
* Learn to recognize the drive that brings on a spending mood. Avoid or reduce exposure to situations that tempt spending.
* Have a shopping plan. Make a list before going shopping, then stick to it.
* Limit the number of shopping trips.
* Don't shop when hungry or depressed. Shopping in a weakened condition may encourage excessive spending.
* Find a substitute for shopping if it is a favorite pastime. Turn that shopping habit into a money-making service by shopping for other people who haven't the time or don't like to shop.
* Before making a purchase, stop and think. Consider whether it is a good use of money, if an immediate need is being satisfied, and if the purchase will fit in with a goal of responsible spending habits.
* Look now, buy later. Get a good night's sleep before making big purchasing decisions. The temptation may not be as appealing the next day.
* Don't be talked into purchases that aren't really needed or wanted. Don't let another person's opinion have an influence on the decision.
* Record weekly spending to help keep track of money.
* Set spending limits, then don't exceed them.
"Changing spending behavior will take lots of self-discipline," Wright said. "The reward for success will be finding more money in your pocket at the end of the month. Then you can start saving that extra money for something you really want -- like a long vacation."
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