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How to curb your spending habits

Information verified correct on December 3rd, 2016

Sensible spending? It's in the bag.

If impulse spending is leaving a hole in your finances, it's time to take control.

Australia set your watches. Every three minutes, the nation's households collectively spend a whopping $3.5 million. A good chunk of these purchases are impulse buys – and many are paid for with credit cards.

All that spending has left Australia with a national card debt of around $50 billion- $34 billion of which is accruing interest at rates as high as 20%.

No wonder many households find it hard to get ahead financially. Yet a few simple steps can help to curb uncontrolled spending.

Understanding spending weak spots

First, get to know your spending patterns. Plenty of apps are available to help, like the government's free TrackMySpend app. It monitors personal spending to highlight areas where cutbacks can be made.

Set a spending allowance

Review your budget, decide how much you can allocate to personal spending each week and only hold this amount in your everyday account – transfer the rest to a high interest savings account. You can spend your allowance guilt-free but don't dip into the savings account.

Pay with cash

Importantly, leave your credit card at home and aim to shop with cash or a debit card. It's a natural barrier to overspending.

If you're still struggling with shopaholic tendencies, a more radical solution is available.

Enter the…

iBag - a world first

Developed by the team at finder.com.au, the iBag is a programmable handbag designed to put the brakes on overspending.

It uses a novel and totally unique four-pronged approach. First, an RFID (radio frequency identification) system tracks when your wallet is taken out of the iBag. Second, a real-time clock can also be used to lock the bag during key spending periods; thirdly, a GSM module sends an SMS alert when you enter a 'danger spending zone'. Finally, GPS-controlled lights start flashing when the bag holder enters a 'danger spending zone'. The idea behind all this, is to put you off impulsively reaching for your purse and/or credit card and to make you think harder about your spending.

Michelle Hutchison, Money Expert at finder.com.au, acknowledges "the iBag is not a long-term solution for those that are out of control with their spending". But it could help.

Boost your financial fitness

If you'd prefer something a little less unusual, think about completing the 12 Week Financial Fitness Challenge developed by finder.com.au. It involves 12 weekly money modules and there's a forum where questions can be posted and answered by finder.com.au's money experts. The best part? It doesn't cost a cent.

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