Whether it’s Direct Debits, shopping, lunch or drinks with a friend, our spending can soon mount up.
Some of these will be obligations (bills), while others may be based on sound decisions (practical trainers at a reasonable price). Some of your spending may have even gone unnoticed.
While you don’t want to be worrying every time you tap your card, you also don’t want to feel guilty whenever you check your bank balance.
Here are some steps on how to avoid spending you’ll later regret.
1. Set (realistic) goals
Set yourself achievable goals and give yourself some leeway. You can use tools like our budget planner to help see how much you could typically save each month, or any areas where you may be able to cut back.
It can help to set a range for your savings goal, such as £100-£300. If you aim for a specific amount each month, but don’t have enough – it may discourage you from saving.
Remember, saving something each month is better than saving nothing.
And when you’re setting goals, try to budget for some ‘wants’ too. You’ll then have money set aside for guilt-free spending so you’ll be less likely to raid your savings.
Explore more: How to spend your income
2. Bring your goals to life
Setting tangible targets and keeping your financial goals front of mind can be a big motivator. Our savings goal calculator can help you see how long it would take you to achieve your goal, so you can work out a realistic timeline.
Naming your savings goals may also help you stay focused. For example, ‘Savings account’ is not the most inspiring name. What’s it actually for? If it’s for a holiday to Japan, try labelling your savings account ‘JAPAN HOLIDAY’.
If your goal is to clear your debts, set yourself milestones where you can celebrate the progress you’ve made. For example, once you’ve cleared 30% you could order a nice takeaway.
3. Automate your decisions
Deciding exactly when, where and how you’ll make certain decisions can reduce the temptation to veer from the plan.
For example, if you’ve decided to put money into a savings account or make a debt repayment each month, will you do it:
- the same day you get paid, or the first day of each month?
- on your phone, laptop, or in branch?
- at home, at work, or on the train to work?
You may want to set up a standing order so your savings or debt repayments are automatically deducted from your income.
This can help you work out how much you have ‘free’ to spend each month. Not only could this help you meet your goal faster, it may remove any guilt you feel for spending on things you enjoy.
If you’re an HSBC customer you can also use tools like Balance After Bills on our mobile app. It accounts for your regular bills to let you know how much money you could have left over.
4. Picture the alternative
A common source of regret can be realising after an event you could have done something differently. If you’re serious about reaching your goals, think about specific ways things could go wrong and how you’ll avoid them.
For example, if you’re saving for a holiday but find yourself tempted to buy a new jacket, think about what your holiday will be like.
It also helps to be aware of your own triggers. For example, does browsing shopping sites tend to result in you buying something you don’t really need?
These triggers will differ from person to person, but think about how you can avoid situations that might cause you to spend money you don’t want to spend.
5. Set up alerts
Being aware of your spending is the first step to controlling it and spend alerts are a great way to keep track.
Some apps will allow you to set a limit for your spending in different areas and then send you a notification if you’re approaching or have gone over your limit.
Keep in mind - everyone spends a little more than they mean to sometimes, and that’s okay. But taking steps to avoid a regular sense of regret is a good way to start making better decisions.