Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5 Secrets For Sustainable Spending

Spending sustainably comes down to living within one's means. Living beyond this may mean a lower standard of living in the future, as debts need to be serviced. Some sacrifices initially may actually mean a higher level of spending can be sustained in the future. This is much more preferable to being at risk of debt collection

Make a Budget

Old habits die hard, so it's worth fostering good habits early on. This starts with making a budget. One should set aside sufficient funds to handle standard expenses, like rent or mortgage repayments, credit card payments, car repayments, car running costs, council rates, electricity, water, other utilities and the like. Additional funds should be allocated for unexpected expenses like car repairs.

Hopefully there are still some funds left over. The remainder should be split between current discretionary spending and future savings for a rainy day. One needs to enjoy life and spending for enjoyment is part of this, but it needs to be kept in check. As long as one can consistently allocate even a small amount of funds to be saved, then one is on the right track.

Investments

Allocating savings into an investment fund is a good way to save for the future. Long term stock market returns of around 10% per annum are well above average deposit rates, and well above the inflation rate. Consistently adding savings to such a fund is a positive way to build up a nest egg. What has this got to do with spending you may ask? As your investments start to perform, the investor bears fruit in the form of managed fund distributions or dividends, and capital growth.

Spending From Surplus

These dividends, distributions, or profits taken on an investment can be allocated to spending. The difference to standard spending is that one is spending from a surplus. The investment can be left to continue to grow and provide further distributions in the same way that a tree continues to bear fruit. Re-investing distributions should mean even greater distributions (and hence even greater spending capacity) in the future. Continuing to regularly allocate savings to such investments will also enhance this capacity.

Save First, Spend Later

The strategy above admittedly does require a little sacrifice at the outset. One needs to curtail immediate spending for the benefit of future spending. The alternative of going into debt is a poor option. If consumer spending is financed by debt, then this debt acts as a restricter on future spending.

Credit can indeed boost spending, but this does have a limit. The more one spends on credit, the more future income one is then forced to apportion to paying off debt. Importantly, getting into the habit of spending more than one earns can make breaking this habit very difficult.

Purchase Outright

For all but the most expensive items (like a property!), one should really be able to save up funds to purchase them. It may be tempting to go out and buy the latest Plasma TV on credit, but waiting and saving will mean no interest payments, and the TV will also probably be cheaper by that time!

No one wants to have to negotiate debt repayments with debt recovery companies. Keep control of your finances by following the above steps to sustainable spending. Stick to a budget, and allocate some funds to savings and investments, so that future spending is worry free and enjoyable.

[This is a guest post]

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