This post is brought to you by The Huntington National Bank and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Finances can be hard to manage. One thing I don’t have trouble with is spending! So, when I think about being financially smart, I usually only think of ways I can save money, which is probably true for most of us. But it’s not realistic to only think about saving money because we still want and need to spend it. It’s kind of like being on a diet – your goal should be to eat better because either way you have to eat! So, the important question is how can we buy the things we want but without overdoing it? That’s called smart spending and it’s the third part of the “Let’s Talk Finances” series. If you haven’t read the first two parts, check them out first to learn about dealing with debt and creating savings funds

We all have our spending habits. For me, the top things I like to spend money on are shopping, food, and travel. These are three things I don’t necessarily want to give up even to meet my savings goals. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can balance getting what I want while saving what I need. 

This year, I knew I wanted to take a trip for my birthday. I felt that as much as I work, I deserved some vacation time to celebrate myself. But I wish I had planned to spend smarter. I booked my hotel two days before the trip, I booked my flight not long before that, and every other expense just kind of added up after that. Most importantly, my trip didn’t have a set budget. These are all things I want to do differently in the future. 

One thing that helped me with spending this trip was managing all my expenses before going.

Basically, I paid off any bills that I knew would be due during or shortly after my trip. That helped me avoid stressing about bills while traveling, but it also allowed me to see how much money I actually had left over in my budget to spend. But in the future, I want to spend smarter by also budgeting for my trip and planning ahead. 

In the first two parts of the “Let’s Talk Finances” series, we talked a lot about the different tools Huntington has to help you deal with debt and stay out of it. This time is no different. The Huntington Heads Up® tool* can help you keep track when it’s okay to splurge and when you need to save based on the savings goals you set for yourself. Being financially responsible doesn’t mean never spending, it just means spending smarter. 

It’s super simple to use and can be done in a few easy steps. 

First: You set up alerts that you can get via text, email, or notifications on your phone (as always, message and data rates may apply). There are tutorials that make set-up super easy.

Second: Set your monthly budgets for things like groceries versus eating out, shopping, future travel, and so much more. 

Third: Watch out for your Huntington Heads Up alert. It will let you know where you stand with your spending. Whether you’re overspending, reaching your budget limit, or right on track, you’ll always know. I know some of us don’t check our accounts all the time because we want to stay in denial (winking at you, it’s okay) but now you have a way to help you be accountable. At the end of the month, you’ll know how you did, which can help you change bad habits. 

During my birthday trip, the Huntington Heads Up alerts helped me keep track of my spending. Since my bills were paid, I had an idea going in what my balance was. However, as the trip expenses started piling up, I didn’t realize how much I was spending. The Huntington Heads Up reminders made that so much easier. At one point, I wanted to get a massage and my Huntington Heads Up reminders helped me see what was feasible within my budget (I did get the massage, woohoo!).

While I want to save and stay out of debt, I also like to enjoy the things that I like. I work so hard, why shouldn’t I treat myself sometimes? But I know I need to be a smarter spender. I can still travel, but maybe I’ll stay for four days instead of five so that I can meet my savings goals, too.

What top three things do you like to spend your money on? What changes about your spending would you like to make?

*Message and data rates may apply.