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How to Change Your Spending Habits

Hey, Big Spender — Could Your Spending Habits Affect Your Financial Future?

Being a big spender is not a good habit when it comes to reaching your financial goals. If you want to change your habits and become a smart spender, read on to find out the tips Mint has to share.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been," but what you may not realize is that they are basically referring to your personal finances. History tends to repeat itself, and if you often splurge on dinners out, clothing, or even your morning latte, over time, these seemingly insignificant purchases could keep you from reaching your financial goals. Whether this comes as a surprise, or has been the elephant in the room for quite some time, there are easy and free tools available to give you a snapshot of your spending and help you get back on track.

Mint.com takes the stress out of documenting and analyzing your finances by aggregating all of your financial accounts in one place. You can spot trends in your spending and discover where you may be spending a bit more than desired or planned. Once you figure out where changes need to be made, you can move from being a big spender to a smart spender. And because this is easier said than done, here are some ideas to put you on the road toward smart spending.

Plan ahead. Planning for the week ahead is a great way to avoid those last minute decisions that could empty your wallet. If you are a big spender when it comes to socializing and eating out, penciling in your social activities in advance, or cooking in bulk and freezing dinners for the week are great ways to help you stay on top of your budget.

Consider "no frills" shopping. Sometimes a brand name is just a brand name, and having an open mind when you are shopping is key to staying within budget. Many times lower priced consumer brands have exactly the same ingredients as more costly brands, so next time you are at your local grocery store or pharmacy, opt for the generic brand.

Switch to free hobbies. If you find your personal hobbies are draining your bank account, it may be a good time to prioritize what makes you happy, or maybe even try something new that is more budget-friendly. If exercise is what brings you Zen, see if your local gym or studio offers discounts, or even drop the membership during the warmer months and get outside!

You can still spend to feel good. Whether it is a new pair of shoes, the hottest new technology, or even a good book, we all enjoy getting something new. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as you don't go overboard. Plan ahead and set aside a "fun budget" each month. This is a great way to feel good about these types of purchases, and will keep you on the right path toward your financial goals.

Keep moving forward. Budgets not only keep you moving forward on the right track, but also provide the historical data you need to improve over time. The "moving forward" part is easy to see, especially with apps like Mint.com, which help you get a clear understanding of your money at glance, and allow you to convert your spending patterns into charts that bring everything into focus. That way, you can spot those problem trends before they happen, and take steps to correct them. Each step of the way, your carefully laid plans show exactly what you need to do, such as which bills are due when and how much is available for that "fun budget".

Although it may feel a bit overwhelming, the first step to taking control of your financial future is figuring out where you are overspending so you can kick your bad habits to the curb and start making smarter choices. We are rooting for you!

— Holly Perez, Consumer Money Expert at Intuit and Mint.com Spokeswoman

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