Let’s face it. Creating good spending habits can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you are used to buying whatever you want. Cutting yourself off from spending binges takes a lot of discipline. Yet, controlling our spending is a must if we are ever going to whip our finances into shape.
Still, if you’ve ever known – or been - a yo-yo dieter (and who hasn’t?), you know that total deprivation from your favorite things can not only ruin your diet, it can actually make your food binges worse. The same holds true when you put your finances on a diet. If all you ever known is spending deprivation, not only can your enthusiasm suffer, but so can your budget.
Thus, rewarding yourself for good spending habits is a must. It keeps you motivated toward accomplishing your bugetary goals while helping to fill that deep craving to enjoy your money. I am talking mostly about little, cost effective rewards. Obviously, blowing a giant wad of money on a reward in the middle of a budget crackdown can wipe out all of the progress you’ve made. However, allowing yourself a larger reward after reaching a major milestone may occasionally be appropriate.
Deciding when to take those rewards can be tricky. I would suggest rewarding yourself on a set timeframe – possibly once a month or quarter. Also, deciding on what those rewards might be can be difficult as well. What is an appropriate reward? Here are a few ideas:
Make a Star Chart
Remember when you were a kid and your teacher gave you a star for having good behavior for the day? Maybe your parents gave you a sticker on the refrigerator for doing your chores. Why not create a star chart for your good spending habits? Each day you accomplish your (non)spending goals, reward yourself a star! Better yet, combine this with your reward calendar. Maybe you get a spending reward after earning 30 stars. Use the chart for motivation…and have fun with it.
Go Out to Eat
Going out to eat can be a great way to reward yourself for good spending habits. Hell, why not catch a movie while you are out? Just be careful not to let eating out become a habit. For many of us, eating out can be one of the sneakiest and most detrimental spending items on our budgets. So, treat yourself, but don’t let restaurants eat up all of your extra spending money.
Do Something Fun
As a reward for sticking to your budget, why not take yourself out to a sporting event you would enjoy? You can try to attend professional events, but they can end up being spending traps because even if you can find cheap tickets, there is still parking, concessions, and many other things that you’ll be tempted to spend money on. However, local high school events can be a lot of fun, and a lot easier on the pocketbook. If you’re into cars, take some driving lessons. Or, go fishing with friends.
Take a Vacation
When it comes to what motivates us in particular, we love to reward ourselves for crossing major milestones by heading out on vacation. Travel is one thing that we truly love and are willing to spend our money on. However, vacation doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of your own money. You can take extended weekend trips to destinations that are nearby. Even better is using other people’s money to go on vacation! We recently used credit card rewards to pay a super sweet vacation to Jamaica. If you plan it right, you can take a great trip for very little cash, and give yourself a great reward all at the same time.
As you can see, rewarding yourself can be a useful tool when you are trying to get your finances in order. Of course, this only works if you are being honest with yourself about your financial performance. So, save up, stop spending, and reap the rewards!
Do you ever treat yourself when you reach a saving goal? If so, what is your favorite type of reward?