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7 Ways To Cut Spending But Still Get The Good Stuff

7 Ways To Cut Spending But Still Get The Good Stuff

It’s no secret, money is hard to come by. Saving money has become the mantra for many households across the United States, with more and more families choosing to forgo quality for cost savings. However, this doesn’t necessarily always have to be the case. You can cut back your spending and still buy and do the cool stuff, you just have to find creative ways to stretch your dollars further. Here are 7 tips to help you get started down the path of cutting spending, saving money and still buying the things you want.

1. Practice self-control.

This is probably the most important piece of advice anyone could ever get. Have you ever wondered why there are shelves of stuff to buy located at the end of shopping aisles and at the cash registers? They are designed to entice you to make impulse buys, purchases you make just because something caught your eye. Impulse buys are true budget busters, and can derail even the most detailed spending plans in a matter of seconds. To avoid making impulse buys:

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  • Create a shopping list of the things you need before you leave home and stick to it no matter what.
  • Set aside a spending limit, no more than $10, specifically for impulse buys. This can give you a little leeway, but keeps your spending under control. If you find that you are tempted to spend more than your limit, choose to walk away and “think about it”. If you still want it, then you can go back and purchase it later.
  • Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash. Not only is carrying cash dangerous from a theft or lost wallet perspective, many people tend to spend more indiscriminately if they use cash rather than debit cards or checks.

2. Do your research before you spend.

While this generally applies to larger purchases, you should practice researching your purchases for all things. This means comparison shopping groceries, shoes, and even gas. This will help you get the most bang for your buck. When researching potential purchases, read reviews on well-respected websites and talk to people you know who have made similar purchases. Make sure that you check both retail and online stores for the best prices. Many stores will price match, even if the item was found online, so if you don’t want to wait or pay for shipping, take the advertised price into your local retail outlet and ask for a price match. This practice even works when certain groceries are on sale at one store and not your normal grocery outlet. Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of coupons and mail-in rebates.

3. Keep a spending journal.

As you go throughout your day, jot down the things you spend money on. This includes all cash, debit and credit purchases. This will help you understand your spending habits and lets you know where your money goes. Add these purchases into your monthly budget so that you can see how this spending impacts your cash flow and reserves.

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4. Buy used and borrow if you can.

Borrow things from the library, from friends, and even from work. Buy used when you can’t borrow and leave purchasing new as a last resort. By buying used, you stand to save a substantial amount over buying new and you can usually upgrade to a better quality item. This is a great way to buy designer clothing and consumer electronics.

5. Take good care of what you buy.

Replacing items you have previously purchased is just a waste of money. Take care of the items that you buy and save your cash for something new.

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6. Disconnect extraneous services. 

Do you still have a landline phone? Do you also have a cell phone and a work phone? If so, odds are you are paying out too much money a month on services you don’t really need. Choose one line of communication and disconnect the other. Are you paying for premium cable in order to get one specific channel? If so, you can probably scale back your monthly cable bill and get the same programming for less using an online streaming service such as Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime.

7. Utilize your employer’s flexible spending accounts. 

Odds are, if you are employed by a large organization, you have benefits that you know nothing about. Flexible spending accounts give you an opportunity to allocate money, most of the time on a pre-tax basis, to pay for things such as medical expenses, child care expenses, transportation costs and more. Look into whether your employer offers such benefits and begin to spend on a pre-tax basis. This puts more spendable cash in your pocket every month thanks to a lower tax burden on your paycheck.

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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