Do you have a split spending personality?

Sam Jackson

May 1, 2012

November 13, 2018

Do you have a split spending personality?

The coffee shop latte is history, your underwear may come from Primark and supermarket own brands have replaced the weekly hit on the deli – but you still have your West Ham season ticket and the sight of a designer sale bargain is too much to resist.

If this sounds like you, you're probably one of a growing number of people with a split spending personality brought on by the recession.

Here are some tips on how to balance your dual spending personas – and come out smiling.

Recognise your weakness(es)…

For one person, organic meat and designer handbags are non-negotiable. For another, it might be five star holidays or anything to do with cars. Once you know what triggers the urge to splurge, you can tell yourself to stop and think twice before handing over your credit card.

…and your strengths

You might not mind swapping your gym membership for walks to work and weekend runs in the park. Perhaps you really enjoy cooking and will secretly be glad to see the back of ready meals and take-aways. Take a few minutes to write down a list of the things you can easily trade down, to satisfy your scrimping side.

Know what you can afford

Get your regular bills together, check your bank and card statements and work out how much you're spending and on what. With Money Dashboard, you can see all your bank accounts and credit cards in one place, and easily track your spending across different categories. Compare that to your income and, if you're like most of us, you'll see just how much your lifestyle depends on credit, so take a look at your credit report, too. It lists your credit accounts and repayment record, so it will show you whether the savings you're making are enough to balance against your spending. It's free to see your Experian credit report with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert (New members only. Monthly fee applies after the trial).

Don't deprive yourself too much

In a study by psychologist Karen Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire, 79 per cent of women admitted to splashing out to cheer themselves up – and men aren't immune to the urge to spend when they're feeling low or deprived either. The lesson: don't cut back so hard that the spending backlash is inevitable. Small, regular treats can be justified if they keep you on an even financial keel.

Give yourself some credit

Do you have the best possible deals on every form of credit? Perhaps it is time to go back to your credit report, which lenders use to check that you're a reliable borrower who isn't overstretched. Taking up any errors with the relevant lender (ask for a correction), closing unused accounts and registering to vote at your current address could all improve your rating. You can see your Experian Credit Score for free as many times as you like during your trial of CreditExpert, which will give you an idea of how lenders might assess an application from you.

Spend smarter

You may be paying too much for utilities, insurance or your mobile account, for example, so use personal finance websites and magazines and hit the price comparison sites to find better deals; your improved credit status should increase your chances of getting the deals you want. Do you have direct debits for magazines you no longer read or clubs you no longer use? Cancel them and put the saving towards something you really want.

Set yourself a goal

Now for the fun bit: give yourself a spending ambition. Make it realistic and relatively short-term or you'll be back on the binge/saving cycle again. A summer holiday might fit the bill when you plan it in the dog days of winter; or perhaps a really comfortable new sofa, or... well, it's up to you.

Sam Jackson

Money Dashboard

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