It’s almost like society makes it really easy to spend and borrow money. Wild conspiracy theories aside, people can get caught up in the offers, the complicated interest schemes, and terms and conditions which will never be read. But what happens when the credit honeymoon is over and the credit hangover begins? Here are some tips to save you money, and gain a more complete understanding of your finances:

  1. Think carefully about lending money. If you can’t afford it as a gift, don’t do it. The alternative is usually anger and resentment. 
  2. Be aware of emotional spending. It’s probably a good idea to opt out of regular mailings from stores so they don’t keep sending you emails with fabulous things you want to buy — that you can live without. 
  3. Stop picking up the check. If you always pick up the check, some people will begin to expect it. Stopping that in its tracks is a good way to cut back. 
  4. Don’t make comparisons or live beyond your means. Make spending decisions based on your own goals, with savings as a priority. Stick to your plan and pay yourself first. 
  5. If you have credit card debt, stop using credit cards immediately. If you don’t, you’re just going to get yourself into a worse situation. Even if you feel like you are being super strategic and gaming the system, the house always wins.
  6. Make sure you know your credit score. Always keep an eye on your money, and your credit score. Take advantage of the three free credit reports we’re all entitled to. 
  7. Retail therapy is fleeting. We all do it because it does fill a void sometimes (especially if there are big sales!). But how many pairs of jeans do you really need? Especially if you’re spending $150 on ripped ones.

I think the most important lesson to learn is about lending. My father told me a long time ago, “It’s okay to lend money to someone, but don’t expect to get it back.” I know of a situation where someone lent a very large sum of money to an ex-brother-in-law, because the ex-brother-in-law was having some financial difficulties. The lender didn’t expect to get it back. I said to him, “Why are you lending this money when you know you’re really not going to get it back?” And he said, “Well, he was good to my nieces and nephew. He took care of them. He raised them. And I want to help him out because of that.”

That guy gets it.