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4 Ways to Form Better Spending Habits

Has your spending gotten a bit out of hand? Are you trying to save up for a vacation or new home? If money is scarce by the end of every pay period, you may need to find a few creative ways to become a more efficient spender–and that means forming spending habits that come as naturally as paying your monthly bills.

U.S. News & World Report suggests test-driving a few of these ideas for living within your means:

Train yourself to change. Make small savings goals a part of your overall plan. One way to save money when eating out is to drink water instead of soda, wine or other beverages. If you do it repeatedly, the small gesture will become a money-saving habit–and who doesn’t know that drinking more water offers significant health benefits?

Put yourself on a cash-only diet. If you tend to fall prey to the lure of credit cards, tuck them away and limit yourself to using cash instead. Withdraw the amount of cash you can afford to spend within a given time period. Chances are you’ll find yourself spending more judiciously in order to make the cash last longer.

Limit your shopping time. The more time you spend shopping or browsing, the more money you’re apt to spend. Make short trips to the store or the mall. Buy what you need from a pre-written list, and get on your way in a hurry. Spend the extra time reading or pursuing a hobby, and you’ll reap double the benefits.

Reward yourself for good behavior. Habits can be formed much of the time by rewarding good behavior. If you stick with your spending plan (read: budget) for an entire month, successfully resisting all splurges and temptations, reward yourself with a little something nice that doesn’t break the bank– like a new pair of shoes or one of those special coffee drinks you successfully cut out of your daily spend.

Even small amounts of savings can add up big over time. Try these tricks to help you rein in your spending and form better habits.