Just chilling out catching up on episodes of The Blacklist – I have to say, a life being driven around in a brand new S Class Benz, private jets, personal assistants – it all sounds pretty special.  I’m sure many of us have thought about it, something special.  It could be as simple as an awesome set of camping gear, or first class travel to far away exotic places.  A huge house, fancy car or a health retreat away from the stresses of life for a few weeks.  There is a whole world out there just waiting to be found, explored and sampled.  All you have to do is sign here sir/madam, and we’ll make the arrangements.  And your credit card number please?Budgeting

Very few will have the chance to fly in a private jet or drive a Ferrari, however certain aspects of that lifestyle could be yours, if you plan, work hard, make the right moves and save.  The problem is, each and every time you try and do something that hints at the life that you don’t yet have, it actually puts that life a little further away from you.

So how on earth can you have fun, have nice things and still get ahead?  It’s quite simple but at the same time, bloody difficult.  You need to understand how important things are to you.  Sure, that big overseas holiday will be nice, but do you really need 5 star hotels?  Could you get away with 3.5?  Will that really ruin the experience?  You’re heading out for dinner, skip entree and dessert, have drinks beforehand and go for a walk for some ice-cream or gelato after rather than the $25 soufflé.  Think to yourself – in a years’ time, will you look back at that moment and think to yourself “if only I’d ordered the desert, life would be so much better now“… not likely.  In fact, it’s quite possible that you might not remember going out!  So what value, in the grand scheme of things, did that bring you?

While it’s all well and good to consider this, how do you put it into practice?  Here are 7 practical ideas that might help if you find yourself overspending on things that either don’t matter, or things that you don’t remember.

  1. Get rid of the credit card and get a debit card.  When you’re spending your own money, if you’re going too fast you’ll see it sooner with a lower bank balance rather than kidding yourself that you’ve got money in the bank
  2. Look at what you spend your money on – you’ll see some patterns of expenditure that may shock or surprise you.  When it comes to spending money on that item again, you might think twice when you know how much you’ve wasted already
  3. Head off for your night out with cash in your pocket only.  It’s a scary idea, not having access to all your money as and when you need it, but if you head out with $100 in your pocket, you know that you’re only going to spend $100 on your night out!
  4. Keep the bulk of your savings in an online savings account with a different bank to who you normally bank with.  You have access to the funds within 24 hours usually, however having to take that extra step and wait that extra day to get your money can often make you reconsider what you’re spending the money on
  5. Set small goals for yourself.  Just like training for a half marathon or saving for a holiday, setting small goals can be useful.  They need to be achievable within a reasonable time frame, but still hight enough that you’re going to try that little bit harder to get there
  6. If you’ve got an ATM, debit or credit card, put a little sticker on it with something written on it like “Are you sure?”.  You’d be surprised how often you can walk out of a shop without buying something when your own card makes you double think what you’re doing
  7. If you have debt, prioritise it – arrange an income split from your payroll directly or an auto debit on the day you get paid for more than the minimum.  Personal debt will only slow you down and make you less efficient

You don’t have to do them all, but pick one or two and see how you go.  Making smaller changes over a period of time will let you refine how you handle your money and eventually, you’ll master it.  Once you can control the money, you can get on with the more important things in life such as working towards the big things you want such as early retirement!