Every time payday rolls around all I can think about is going to the electronics store to look at all the gadgets. Whether I have enough money or not, I absolutely have to stop in and plan my next gizmo purchase. This is a common habit, especially among geeks, and one that can drain your bank account to nothingness in a hurry. It isn’t something to be ashamed of, but it is something that can be avoided.
You can cut down significantly on frivolous spending by putting yourself on an allowance. While the notion of an allowance sounds funny at first, there are accountants that spend most of their time setting up these situations for their customers for this very reason. This allowance doesn’t have to be too restrictive, but it does need to cater to your realistic financial situation.
Please note this article does not serve as financial advice, but a list of ideas that have helped me in the past. It’s important that you find a method to plan your expenses that works best for you and your budget.
Here are some methods of creating and enforcing an allowance that may work for you:
Direct Deposit Your Check to Savings with a Percentage or Set Amount Going to Checking
Most banks these days offer a free savings account when you open a checking account. This allows them to have a stable resource of funds to loan out to other customers which makes it more of a benefit to them than a checking account would. One method I’ve used to create an “allowance” is to have my paycheck directly deposited in to either a savings account or a checking account while the set allowance amount for non-bill spending goes in to a separate checking account. By doing this I have created a barrier between myself and the primary account which makes it subconsciously easier to stick to a set budget.
Create a Yearly Allowance by Overpaying Taxes
This is the least popular method in this list, but it is also one countless U.S. citizens do for various reasons. By adding an amount of each paycheck to my federal withholding taxes, I end up with a giant check every January where I normally might receive a more mediocre one. This method also protects you against having to owe the IRS come tax season, especially if tax rates change in the middle of the year as they often do. I’ve also found that the less I claim, the more I get back at the end of a term as well. Once I do receive my refund check, I’m generally in a good position to upgrade my computer, put a down payment on a large purchase, or buy a bunch of those gadgets I was looking at in the store.
Build a Second Source of Income to Fund your Extra Spending
Taking on a second job or monetizing your experience (this blog), is a method I’ve used to feed my gaming and iOS app buying habits. Every game or app I’ve reviewed on my own sites was purchased with funds that came from advertising done on the sites. Everyone has something they have experience with and are passionate about, and the net has given us a way to monetize our experiences.
For example, I’m a radio / television producer with years of experience in customer service, radio, and media. I’m passionate about technology and food. For that reason, I have blogs with topics including media, customer service, technology, and restaurants. The combined income from these extras I do every day allows me to continue to do what I love.
If you feel that writing isn’t your thing, odd jobs are a great way to gain that little extra scratch you need. Even in my late teens and early 20s, I mowed lawns for people to earn money I needed to keep my computer up to date. The money I made doing this was set aside and dedicated to just that, without having to touch my primary accounts at all.
No matter how you decide to handle your budget needs, giving yourself a set amount on a regular basis to buy the things that you want will keep you from overspending. Some of the best financial advice I ever received from a friend of the family was to pay yourself first, that way you won’t have to give yourself a loan later on.