Your wants, just like those of others, will always be insatiable. While this is common knowledge that should make spending choices easier, ignoring what we want for what we truly need is not always a walk in the park. We live in the consumerism bubble of smart advertisement that makes it hard to turn down seemingly “juicy” offers, often with little to no time to ponder on whether the impromptu card swipe is for a purchase we can't do without. A finance community discusses the viable pathways to escaping the ”wants trap” while you build a life of financial security, and members have these to say about the best ways to have a go at it.
1. Create a Budget
The first sign, according to several contributors, that you're ready to pursue financial security is the creation of a comprehensive budget that leaves nothing out. “The one way to know if your budget is properly done is in the detailed outline of income, fixed expenses, and discretionary spending,” one contributor highlights. Someone else says it is impossible to exit the want trap without a budget, as it's the “major move to identify where your money is going and where you need to make adjustments.”
2. What Are Your Priorities?
As easy as it seems, pinpointing your priorities may require some self-reflection, and a financial advisor wants you to take your time. “Begin by separating needs from desires. Necessities like food, shelter, and healthcare are needs. The latest iPhone is not, except your current phone has become unusable.”
3. Would You Rather Have It Later?
Both needs and wants offer you a measure of satisfaction, but one user says being able to delay gratification can help you shave off the pressure of spending on wants now instead of in the future when you can afford it. “Before you commit funds to anything, you may take a day or two to think about it. It's enough time to decide the difference between your wants and needs when you're having an internal conflict.”
4. Lifestyle Inflation Can Wait
The urge to increase spending or go on a buying spree when your income increases is not unusual, but it may be your barrier to attaining a financially secure life, one individual admits. “With more income, your strategy should be to keep as much money as possible. Consider the boom in income as an opportunity to save, and not an avenue to spend lavishly.”
5. Automate Savings and Investment
Keeping the cash in hand may not be enough if you haven't built the discipline to not spend on wants. Someone advises that you should “set up automatic transfers to saving and investment accounts. It's the one way I stop myself from wasteful spending. After the automated deductions, I know I have to spend everything I have left on priorities, or I'll go broke before the next paycheck.”
6. Join a “No Spend” Group
A “No Spend” group is a local online group where people post things they are giving away for free or looking to get or borrow in your neighborhood or town,” someone explains. Rather than spend on items you can get for free, you can conserve your income by looking out for those who are willing to give theirs away.
7. Manage Debt
Many people agree that you cannot find financial stability if you don't have control over how much you owe. “Prioritize paying off high-interest debt while managing and minimizing new debt,” an individual pleads. A second person says one pointer to your victory over wants is the shrinking of your debt profile over time.
8. Have a Fun Allowance
You don't want to get overwhelmed with aggressive saving, even though you need it to gain financial stability. Someone wants you to keep a monthly fun allowance to make saving easier. “I keep a fun budget of $100 every month. Yours can be less or more depending on your income. Sometimes I end up not touching it, but it helps to spend on cooling off if I can't do nothing but spend.”
9. The YNAB App Might Be What You Need
Several contributors are hyped about the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app, with some claiming it can help you track every dollar efficiently. “The app is tailored for people who repeatedly muddle their finances,” one user expounds. “It works by adopting zero-based budgeting, helping you to prioritize spending on only what's important.” A second person says YNAB's proactive planning can clarify how best to escape the “wants trap,” if you stick to it.
10. Get Financial Education
Your financial knowledge can make all the difference in overcoming the “want trap,” someone explains, adding that the more you know about handling money, the easier it becomes to prioritize spending, increase income, and gain financial stability. Many forum users buy the idea of getting a financial education, with one vetting it as the “most effective vaccine to thoughtless spending and financial wreck.”
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