Why are you always broke? How to change your spending habits

Why are you always broke?

‘I don’t know, I hardly buy anything!’ Some people are broke because they genuinely have very little money coming in each month. Maybe they live on benefits or have to support a large family on the minimum wage. However, in my experience there are many people out there who claim they have no money and can’t save who have decent jobs and salaries. Perhaps you have the cash, but need to change your spending habits to get you on track?

I knew a woman who lived in a large house with two family cars and sent her children to private school. She told me she never had any money and they were struggling. The pleas of poverty did not ring true, even when she once had the debt collectors at her door. It doesn’t take a genius to see that her lifestyle was too extravagant for what would to many of have been a fantastic income! Her spending habits weren’t in line with the money she had coming in. She was more concerned about keeping up appearances than she was about the state of her bank balance.

Ask yourself some tough questions about your spending habits

So, before you say your money never lasts and you have no savings ask yourself these questions to identify your spending habits:

Could your accommodation be cheaper? This is likely to be your biggest monthly expense. If you have over extended yourself buying or renting it will hurt. Could you move to more modest accommodation or rent a room out?

Can you travel more cheaply? Cars are a huge expense. If you have more than one car consider whether at least one of you could take public transport instead. Could you downgrade to a motor scooter or cycle? If you need your car you can find out about cheaper motoring here.

Could you holiday more cheaply? I hesitate to say give up on holidays, although many people do enjoy the odd ‘staycation’. However, if you go skiiing every winter and to Disneyland each summer you will need a very full wallet.  Could you invest in a tent for some cheaper camping holidays instead? Some of our most enjoyable family vacations have been under canvas.

Do you have money to burn?

Do you smoke? I have little sympathy for people who literally burn money whilst putting their good health at risk. Nuff said!

Do you insist on buying everything new? From clothes to furniture, whatever you need you can almost certainly buy secondhand if you really want to save money. And reusing can help save the planet!

How much do you spend in pubs/restaurants/cinemas/theatres each month? If you are in the pub three times a week your bank balance will feel the strain.

Do you enjoy a regular takeaway? How much would you save if you knocked this habit on the head and cooked from scratch instead? Even if you don’t waste money on take outs, do you use a lot of convenience food?

A passion for fashion?

Do you love a brand name? If you can wean yourself off designer clothing (or at least buy it secondhand) you will save yourself a packet. When you are in the supermarket, try some supermarket own brands – the big names make you pay for all of their advertising and fancy packaging.

Do you have too many clothes? If you buy a new outfit every time you go out the answer will be yes. Take the wardrobe challenge and then see how else you can save money on clothes.

How much does it cost you to look that great? There are so many ways to waste money on hair care and beauty products and treatments, but if you are short of cash you probably don’t need to get hair extensions or your nails done every month and could knock the designer perfumes and makeup on the head in favour of some cheaper versions. See here how you can be beautiful on a budget.

How often do you use your expensive gym membership? If you don’t use it then cancel it ASAP! If you are a gym bunny and there every night then good for you, but could you get it cheaper elsewhere?

Do you have hundreds of TV channels you never watch? You could save a lot by switching to a cheaper package or cancelling it altogether and investing in a Freeview box.

Time to change your spending habits

They are obvious questions really but people are very good at sticking their heads in the sand. Don’t be an ostrich. If you live from pay cheque to pay cheque and have no savings but you walk around in designer gear then you know why you are always broke! Have a good look around the site to see how you can change your spending habits. Start here, which gives lots of tips on how to save money.

(First published February 2017)

4 thoughts on “Why are you always broke? How to change your spending habits

  1. An excellent list of items for people who claim they “have no money” to check! We have never had expensive holidays – holidays have always come bottom of the list of “things to do” because we knew that if we spent money on holidays abroad for a couple of weeks, we’d have to curtail 50 weeks of other activities, and we weren’t prepared to do that for just two weeks away. We used to do house-swaps through the National Women’s Register (of which I was a member) and we found that fun; all it cost was the petrol to get from our house to our swap house. Of course, it took a lot of planning (and giving our house a spring clean before the swap family arrived, and on the day of departure, changing the bed linen for the incoming family, so this kind of holiday wouldn’t do for people who aren’t reasonably well organized) but it was a way of going somewhere different, and there were different toys for the children, an added bonus.
    We don’t have takeaways, I can’t imagine how families can justify spending huge amounts of money on pizzas (a bit of bread with a topping, for heaven’s sake!) or curry or Chinese. We have had them in the past (Chinese) but afterwards, we have agreed that the meals wasn’t all that good for the price.
    We pay no attention to designer labels. I’m not going to go around advertising someone’s wares that I’ve paid dearly for! As for smoking – ugh! As you say burning money while making you ill!
    We try and be sensible with our money (we are retired) and we do have coffee out or a lunch out occasionally, but never dinner out as we simply don’t enjoy going out at night any more, and also meals at night are more than what they cost at lunchtime, often for much the same food.
    We have Freeview but have just decided to have Netflix, but at £8.99 a month, not a huge spend, and we can watch series we’d not otherwise see. That kind of money would hardly buy two drinks in a pub. As for a gym … we simply walk!

  2. There are so many more things you can do, as you’ve shown in previous posts, but off the top of my head I would also add to that:

    Can you get a cheaper deal on your gas/electricity by switching?

    Can you lower your mobile costs by going sim only?

    Following on from the BBC programme Eat Well For Less, a new series of Shop Well for Less is starting on Thursday (BBC1 8pm) which might be of interest to your readers. They will be following people whose shopping habits are out of control. It looks like there will be organisational ideas so you know what you already have, and can actually find it!

  3. Having recently moved we have just had a new kitchen put in, not for fancy reasons -it did need doing,we had very little storage and this is now our retirement home. We have a budget for what we need to do and found a local fitter who is way cheaper than b and q who has done a wonderful job, we like to support the small local chaps ,but what an eye opener on the food front! I had just a microwave and kettle and the small garden table to cook meals with and we have had a week of ready meals! They were SO expensive and most were awful and the amount of plastic we threw out was so wrong! I also had to take the washing to the launderette, “12.50” for one load. This has made me think, how to people manage when they either have no space for a washing machine or can’t afford one, the same regarding cooker, those ready meals are really not healthy either. We are so lucky that this was just one week and we could afford some nice fresh fruit to add to our diet and had one meal out. Now back to proper food, cheaper, healthier and less packaging!

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