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Ditch The Excuses: 15 Tips To Quit Spending Your Money

Ditch The Excuses: 15 Tips To Quit Spending Your Money

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Money/Public Domain via publicdomainpictures.net

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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