Forming simple habits can help you avoid unpleasant surprises when the monthly bills arrive.
It’s easy for us to get to the end of the month and be surprised by the bills that arrive, because we haven’t kept track of how much we spent. Here are 7 ways we can be more careful with our hard-earned money, so the surprise at the end of the month will be a pleasant one!
1Keep track of the money you spend
There’s nothing better than having a written account, on paper or on a computer or cell phone, of what you’ve spent. To avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the month, you should write down all of your expenses, taking into account everything from programmed monthly payments to one-time expenditures.
2Use energy efficient appliances
Investing in home appliances that have a good energy efficiency rating (such as Energy Star in the USA or A+++ in Europe) will lower your electric bill. Although the initial cost of the appliance may be greater, after a while your saving on your electric bill will have made up for the cost of buying a more expensive but more energy efficient model
3Be careful with water and electricity
There are simple measures you can take to lower your utility bills. For example:
- Be sure to close the tap immediately after washing your hands or filling a container, and while you brush your teeth.
- If you open the tap and are waiting for hot water to come out, make use of the cold water that comes out first (fill a jug to water your plants, for example).
- Take a shower instead of a bath.
- Use a “low flow” or “water saving” toilet.
- Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.
- Change incandescent bulbs for LED ones.
4Make sure your house is well-insulated
Heating and air conditioning can use a lot of electricity or fuel. To avoid wasting money:
- Check the door frames and windows to be sure they seal well.
- Use double-paned glass windows.
- Make sure all exterior walls are well-insulated.
5Avoid impulse buying on the internet, and be careful with your credit card
When we buy things without planning first, we can be guided by our impulses and end up buying things we don’t need. For example, a lot of people end up returning clothes that they bought, because they don’t fit or really aren’t needed. One thing you can do to save money is to avoid buying things on the internet at the instant you get the urge. Take time to think, and be sure you write down those expenses on your list.
In stores, paying in cash—having to count out those dollar bills—can help you to realize just how much things really cost.
Check on your cell phone to see what apps you use to buy things often, and ask yourself if you can delete them, or at least move them off the default screen.
6Avoid buying on credit
In principle, it seems like a good idea to postpone payment and divide it into parts. However, you need to be careful, because you’ll be paying interest on that money every month you delay your payment. In the end, you end up paying more. Plus, “out of sight, out of mind”; it can be easy for us to accumulate debts without being aware of just how much we owe and have to pay each month.
7Don't be fooled by sales and promotions
Just because a product is marked as a “family pack” or “saving size,” doesn’t automatically mean it’s actually cheaper. You need to take the time to compare the price per unit to see which option is really better priced.
Also, don’t get sucked in by sales. The price may not be significantly lower than what you would ordinarily pay. To this end, it can be helpful to check prices at other stores on your cell phone so you know if it’s actually a good deal.
In the end, the most important thing is to raise your awareness of how much you can actually afford to spend. Keep your eyes open for ways to save, or at least ways to avoid unnecessary expenses, exercising self control. It’s easier said than done, but it’s not impossible, especially if you work on making awareness and self-control a habit every day.