Your credit card bill comes in and you freeze. “This is much more than I expected,” you think.

This happens all too often. People don’t pay attention to their spending habits, and, before they know it, their spending goes through the roof. Life doesn’t have to be this way, however. There are plenty of things one can do to ensure a safe financial future, one that is full of potential, possibilities, safety, and security.

Herein, I recommend three ways you can make sure to have control over your finances, save money, and reduce your debt over a reasonable amount of time.

1) Wants vs. Needs: Know the Difference

Determining the difference between things you need vs. things you want is vital. When you differentiate the two, you are able to notice things that you want, which you may not need and vice versa.

  • Needs are things that are essential to your survival as a human being: Food, water, shelter, and clothing.
  • Wants are things that you desire that you do not need in order to survive.

As you can see, wants are much more broad and all encompassing than needs. Knowing the difference between the two can help you to ask yourself helpful questions, when shopping, such as, “Do I need this, or do I want this?” If you have a reasonable explanation as to why you want something, then, of course, make sure you purchase it. Here is a good rule of thumb when deciding whether to buy something you want.

Quick Solution: Ask yourself, “Will this thing benefit me in about 10 seconds from now?” Then, ask, “Will this thing benefit me 10 weeks from now?” Then, ask yourself, “Will this thing benefit me 10 months from now?” If you answer, “Yes,” to two out of three or three out of three, then it is definitely worth buying the item or service.

2) Credit Scores: Focus on Building It

When thinking about how to use your credit card, consider this: The more often you pay off your credit card balance in the full amount, the higher your credit score is going to be. Find creative ways to increase your credit score, such as setting a reminder to pay off your balance at the beginning of each week. This will show your bank that you are trustworthy, quick to pay off debt, and able to pay off your debt with a real cash flow.

3) Family Gatherings: Keep Your Dependents in the ‘Know’

It’s one thing to decide you are going to be better with your spending, and it is another thing to actually keep yourself accountable.

Involve your dependents in the process of paying off debt. Keep them in the know about ways the family can improve spending habits and credit scores. Having these types of regular and consistent family gatherings can keep everyone aware that no one is forgetting about spending. It allows for open, authentic, and raw communication about finances and, therefore, will reduce stress about finances overall and, potentially, avoid future conflict over the topic of finances between loved ones. Everyone can keep each other in check about their spending, and everyone will feel more comfortable, knowing they can be honest about their struggles and hopes for their financial future.

Like learning about debt reduction and financial know how? Follow me on Twitter for regular financials news and tips @AlberWashington!