So, keep track of your purchases and make sure you can pay for what you buy. Here's how:
- Write down each one of your purchases (you can do this for other catagories, too -- eating out, drinks, bills, gas, etc).
- Keep a detailed list and calculate how much you spend per month on shopping.
- Add up all of your mandatory expenses (= rent, groceries, phone/electric/gas bills, transportation, & any other essential monthly bills you have).
- Take your net income (what you take home after taxes) and subtract your mandatory monthly expenses (not including shopping costs). We'll call this "money left after bills."
- Note the amount you have left. See how your monthly shopping expenses compare to your "money after bills". Are they more? (If so, you're spending more than you have -- RED light!) Are they less? (Good. you're not spending more than you have....but how close are you coming?)
- Now make a plan. How much of your "money left after bills" should you be saving per month? (Definitely save some. You never know when you'll need an emergency fund, especially in this economy.)
- Create a monthly shopping budget (less than your "money left after bills"). Stick to that budget, and put your savings into some type of savings account.
- The key is to know how much you have, and to realize how much you're spending. Once you see and process the numbers, you'll find it easier to say "no."