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Step 3Separate your wants from your needs

After the previous exercise, which provides you with a detailed insight into your expense structure, you will no doubt be surprised by the role certain items play in your overall expenses. Before they decide to quit smoking, people are usually shocked to discover how much they spend each month on that small pleasure, but even things such as going out for drinks or buying gifts can be more significant than you think, due to something we call “impulse purchases”.

Every unplanned purchase or purchase of something that is not essential is called an impulse purchase. That includes paying for something at a much higher price than planned. If you’re under stress, you’re much more prone to impulse purchases, as well as when you’re in a really good mood. In those situations, try to avoid the risk of impulse purchases by taking only as much money as you need before you leave your house, and leaving all your payment cards at home.

Now, how to differentiate between your wants and your needs? Before buying anything that you’re unsure which category it falls into, you could, for example, try to live without it for a few days or even weeks. Or to ask yourself: how were you able to live without it until now.

You can have everything you desire, but ask yourself first if you can afford it.