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Created on 06.05.2019

How to be better disciplined with finances

Setting a budget, setting savings goals, embracing discipline – it’s all child’s play. But then you discover a gadget you really want, see an amazing bag in the shop or end up buying tickets for that concert, and all your good intentions vanish. In most cases, it is a lack of self-discipline that is the biggest obstacle to us being careful and smart with our finances. Why is that? And can you learn how to be self-disciplined?

The main reason people don’t really know how to handle money is that a lot of people never learn how it actually works. “You shouldn’t talk about money” is a piece of advice we often follow, yet it usually does more harm than good. In Switzerland especially, money is more of a personal, private matter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean money generally doesn’t crop up much in conversation. Financial management is on the curriculum at schools, but the main responsibility for talking about it still lies with parents. This means we often end up having to learn how to manage money ourselves, and that’s no mean feat. Life is full of many temptations, after all. 

Emotions influence how we manage money

People have a tendency to avoid any complicated issues that they don’t understand. As a result, very few adults are willing to tackle the subject of money and only reluctantly deal with their finances. And then emotions also come into play. Our personal attitude towards money has a major influence on how we manage it. This attitude is shaped by our parents and our grandparents right from childhood. It can be very revealing to examine how the subject was tackled in our own families, because this often explains how sensible we are with our money. By identifying the cause of your problems, you can focus on finding the solution. 

Learn how to be disciplined with your money

Catch up on knowledge

One method could be trying to catch up on all the knowledge you never learned. This could be a good starting point to help you organize your finances and could also teach you to cultivate a sensible approach towards managing your money. This needn’t be a classroom-based course – there is plenty of information and materials on managing finances available online. You will find lots of information in other articles on this platform. Other websites can also be useful: Pro Juventute, for instance, has plenty of The link will open in a new window information (in German) for teenagers. The website for the The link will open in a new window Swiss Budget Advice Association (in German) is also a good source for anyone looking to learn budgeting techniques.

Analyse your own behaviour

It is also useful to analyse your own purchasing behaviour. Ask yourself why you’re spending money each time you buy something. Do you buy coffee in the morning out of habit? Maybe you do it to put off getting to work? Or because you really do want coffee? Perhaps the aroma of fresh coffee makes you feel good? Or maybe it’s a little treat? Shopping can often be a procrastination strategy. Instead of writing tedious reports at work or paying our bills when we’re at home, we’d rather do a bit of online shopping. If you realize you’re doing this, you will be able to shift your focus back to the task at hand instead of procrastinating on shopping websites.

Keep a record

Note down everything you buy and analyse what you’ve spent at the end of the day. This will give you a crystal clear picture of how much you spend on which items over the course of the day – even if you hadn’t intended to spend that money. You’ll be surprised. In the long term, this will also help you to shop more thoughtfully. Nowadays, there is also a wide range of apps you can use to check your expenditure. Find out more in the article “Five apps to help you keep your budget better under control”.

Set up standing orders

Set up standing orders for regular payments such as rent, phone bills and health insurance, or make these payments via direct debit. If you do this, you won’t be tempted to spend this money on other things. Ideally, you should also transfer a fixed sum of money from your private account to your savings and pillar 3a accounts every month.

Plan your payments

If you have to pay any bills manually, make sure you set a fixed date for making the payments. PostFinance offers an e-bill service which enables you to pay your bills with ease in e-finance and prevents letters from piling up. Paying all your bills in one go rarely requires much effort, and if you give yourself a little reward in the process or when you’re done, paying bills could gradually change from being something you dread into a brand new routine. But that doesn’t mean you should go shopping as soon as you’re done. A little reward could just be a biscuit, an episode of your favourite TV show or some gaming time. 

Pay by mobile phone

With mobile payments, you will always be able to view your balance using an app, which will help you keep track of your finances. You can also create budgets using online banking and ensure that only the amount of money you want to spend is available in your payment account.

Check what you already have

Get an overview of what you already own. Make a list of the types of clothing you might have in your wardrobe, e.g. jumpers, T-shirts, trainers, sandals, scarves, bikinis, coats, etc. When you’ve done that, empty your wardrobe completely and count how many items you have in each category on your list. It will suddenly strike you as a bit crazy that you own seven striped shirts. If you know exactly what you already have, buying your fifth blue shirt will seem completely pointless all of a sudden.

Avoid temptations

Simply try to avoid situations or activities where you might spend money for no good reason. Instead of strolling through a shopping center, why not stroll through a wood? Reach for a book rather than browsing online shops. Have friends over for dinner instead of going out to restaurants and bars.

Set yourself goals

Setting yourself specific goals will also help you to be careful with your money. In the beginning, emotional goals are the most helpful, i.e. saving up for a fixed amount of time for things you really want, such as a holiday, a day at the zoo with all the family or a spa weekend with your partner. Saving up just a little bit each month for these sorts of goals is a small achievement in its own right. However, your goals must be realistic and achievable, and you should plan how much you can or would like to save on a regular basis to achieve them. It’s unlikely you’ll manage to save up enough money for a new car within the space of four months if you have never saved money before. But four months is certainly a realistic amount of time to save up enough money to go to a theme park with the whole family. 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Learning how to manage money properly when you’re an adult requires a lot of willpower. Make gradual progress by setting yourself modest goals, and remember to celebrate smaller achievements, too. It usually takes a while for new habits to become an intrinsic part of your daily routine. The good news, however, is this: you can train yourself to manage your money if you remain conscious of why you spend however much money you’re spending, and on what you spend it on. All you have to do is start.

Mobile banking can help you manage your finances

If you know how to use mobile banking, you can check your account transactions at any time, pay bills quickly and easily, or even track account activity by using push messages. After all, the better informed you are about your own finances, the better you will be able to manage them. PostFinance customers can learn how to use mobile banking by taking free courses at PostFinance branches. In the first part of the course, they get hands-on experience with the PostFinance App by learning how to check their account balance and account activity. In the second course, “Applying knowledge”, they learn how to manage their accounts, pay (e-)bills and set up standing orders. The “Consolidation” course gives customers an overview of free additional functions such as push messages, and the opportunity to familiarize themselves with mobile payment solutions like the PostFinance TWINT App. Find out more by reading “Go Digital – free courses on digital banking”.

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