If you want to spend less money, you’ve got to go about it in the right way. You know you have to save for the future, but how do you make sure that it’s really gonna stick? Unless you have some great ideas and a plan, you might run into trouble. Follow these simple tips to curb your spending.
1. Set Savings Goals
It’s always good to make a plan. Are you saving your money in order to buy a car? Perhaps you just want to pay down those credit card balances. Whatever the case, set your goals. Once you have a clear idea of what you are saving for, you will be prepared to work toward that goal. Think of your goals as a line of defense protecting you from spending inordinately.
2. Plan Your Budget
Keep track of what you are spending, and log daily entries into a budget spreadsheet. Over time, you will see how much you spend every day, week, month, and year. If you need some help, there are many effective budget planners that you can find using a search engine. You can analyze your budget, and pinpoint exactly where your wallet is hemorrhaging. You can also keep track of your income in the same manner – make sure that you are not spending more than you earn! In any case, simply cut out the expenses that aren’t doing anything for your savings, and watch your earnings grow.
3. Balance Before You Spend
Pay all of your bills before you leave the house to go out. When you are unaware of your financial condition, you are more likely to spend money frivolously. When you have a good idea of your finances, however, your awareness will help you when you go out. Balancing your checkbook will provide you with the willpower to avoid spending too much.
4. Wait Three Days
Whenever you are tempted to make a big purchase, wait three days. While you’re waiting, consider whether or not you need what you want to buy. After the rush of impulse shopping wears off, you will know if it’s something you actually want to purchase.
5. Eat Your Food
Don’t go out to eat. There’s food in your fridge that’s probably better for you, and you will save big bucks by staying home. Check your pantry before you take another trip to the store: you probably have some food in there too. And when you do go to the store, eat before you go – a hungry shopper is a spendy one! Remember, only go to the store when the food is gone. You’ll take fewer trips and lower your grocery bill, effectively saving you some money in the process.
6. Pack Your Lunch
Many people spend their money daily on expensive restaurants and food trucks. Avoid this trap by making a sack lunch before you leave the house for work. You will eat healthier, and you’ll save a great deal of money by following this tip.
7. Shop With a List
Make a list of what you need to buy before you leave the house. This will galvanize you when you are out – just stick to the list. In this manner, you can easily avoid impulse buys. Just remind yourself that you can’t buy anything that isn’t on the list.
8. Cancel Catalogs and Emails
Retailers are sending you emails and catalogs all the time. They want you to open them so that you will be mesmerized by their latest deals. Don’t open them! Unsubscribe from these emails (usually there is a link to opt-out right at the bottom of the email). Call retailers that send you catalogs and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists. In these ways, you can allay your temptation to check out the latest deals (saving you some hard-earned cash!).
9. Hide Away Your Credit Cards
Your credit cards can be your worst enemy when you are striving to save money. Therefore, place them in a spot that isn’t readily available to you. A safe is a good place to start: the credit card won’t be readily accessible, and it takes time to enter the combination. Safes aren’t the only way to stop spending with your credit card. You can try anything that will slow you down when you want to pull out the card.
There are more drastic measures that you can take (especially, if you don’t have a safe). Try wrapping your cards in plastic and burying them in the backyard. Or you can freeze them. Just place the card in a bowl of water and stick it in the ice box. (Put a coin atop the card to keep it from floating.) Next time you need to use your credit card, you will need to thaw it out or dig it back up – very effective deterrents, indeed.
10. Cut Up Your Cards
So the icebox trick didn’t work. Or maybe you’re really good at digging. You somehow managed to spend with your credit cards even after you tried to hide them away. No worries, just cut them up. If you find yourself spending too much with debit cards, cut them up too. No more trips to the ATM on a whim, and no more impulse buying. No credit and no debit means no frivolous spending with your cards.
11. Borrow Don’t Buy
When money’s tight, think of borrowing what you need. The neighbor’s lawnmower, a tie for a special engagement, your brother’s pickup truck. Remember, you often don’t need to rent or buy anything, especially if it’s for short-term use.
12. Trade & Barter
Many things that you currently own have value. Keep this in mind when you need to buy something: you can trade what you already own! Ask the neighbor if he wants to trade his lawnmower for your chainsaw. You can even barter your own time if necessary, like babysitting your brother’s kids so that you can borrow the truck again.
13. Collect Spare Change
Keep a change jar, and deposit all of the pocket (or purse) change you accrue. Another fun idea, put a label on the jar, like “Ski Trip,” “Disneyland,” or “Sound System.” Whenever you put money into the jar, you’ll feel good for working toward a savings goal.
14. Just Do It
Rather than paying someone else to weed your yard, fluff & fold, or clean your house, go ahead and do it yourself. In the long run, these services aren’t doing much for you. Sure, they’re convenient but they’re going to cost you. The cost for doing it yourself is just a bit of your free time – and your savings will thank you for it.
15. Consider the True Cost
Whenever you want to make a purchase, consider the “true cost” to you. Find the true cost by calculating how many hours it would take you to earn the money to pay for what you want to buy. For example, if you make $20 per hour and you spend one-hundred dollars to go out and eat, you just spent five hours of work. By effectively converting the monetary figure to an hourly one, it can serve to deter you from making purchases you might regret.
With these simple tips, you’ll find that you can eliminate needless spending and start to grow your savings. It might not be easy at first, but it can be fun! Try thinking of the money in your bank account as your score in a video game – avoid the spendy temptations, incorporate these tips into your buying habits, and rack up those points! Before you know it, you will be heading down the road to reducing your debt and building up your wealth.
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