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Monday, February 28, 2011

How to spend wisely

How to spend wisely

Today's youth have higher disposable incomes as compared to their counterparts in earlier generations. The same has resulted in a significant change in lifestyles.
Objects that were considered luxury goods say a decade ago have become necessities for the present generation. In fact, the young population has been a major contributor to the India growth story. It is widely believed that spending habits of the youth will play a major role in vitalising the economic cycle, going forward.
However, there is a need to understand that spending in an unrestrained and haphazard manner could spell disaster for your finances. Spending should be done with a degree of discipline and planning. We present four tips which will help you master the art of spending.
Spend in line with a budget
Remember the longstanding method of making a budget and then spending in line with the same. That is still the right way to go about spending. Having a clearly laid-out budget will help you prioritise your spending. For example, the highest priority must be accorded to investments that have to be made in line with investment plans and commitments like life insurance premiums. Only when the high priority needs have been taken care of, should the balance funds be used for other expenses. Although the idea of abiding by a budget for spending may seem "uncool", it is nonetheless, the right thing to do.
Track expenses
Again, tracking where you have spent your money may not qualify as an interesting way to spend time, but it is important nonetheless. It will provide you an unambiguous picture of your cash flows; this will put you in better control of your finances. More importantly, it will provide you an insight into your spending habits. This in turn can help you understand the areas that account for a significant portion of your expenses and give you the opportunity to do a reality check on their utility.

Don't succumb to impulse spending
It is now considered trendy to hangout at malls, coffee shops and lounges. And window displays and latest blockbusters are known to test the resolve of even the strongest. A young individual with access to disposable funds can be rather vulnerable in such a situation. Resist the temptations and don't succumb to impulse spending. This is especially pertinent if the spending will come at the cost of your monthly investment towards your retirement/home building corpus. Always try to spend in line with your budget.
For example, while it's good to take your friends to the movies or for a dinner once in a while, we recommend that it not be overdone. Movies/dinners can be very expensive propositions these days, which means that you stand to gain significantly if you cut down these outings even by say 20%.
For example, even if Rs 1,000 were to be saved on these outings and invested in a diversified equity fund over 20 years as a one-time investment, it would mature into Rs 16,366 (assuming 15% compounded growth).
Beware of credit cards
Easy availability of credit cards has provided a major boost to spending. A credit card gives you access to high spending limits; also it liberates you of the worry about handling cash. But credit cards have their downsides as well. For example, making the "minimum payment due" could get you entangled in a debt trap and force you to make interest payments at obscenely high rates. In fact, credit cards are so pervasive in the present day context that we have chosen to dedicate an article to the same in this guide.

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