Saving money and spending less may sound like the same thing, but they involve different financial habits to lead to financial security. Creating healthy spending habits and saving money can be difficult. With product placements, sales, subscriptions, and online shopping, buying is as easy as 1-2-3. But those steps can change, and you can begin making changes to bring yourself more financial security with the tips listed below to help you spend less and save more.
Creating Healthy Spending Habits
- Record your expenses. For a month, record all your expenses. At the end of the month, go back and see your spending habits. What surprises you? What is necessary, and what is unnecessary? Evaluate those spending decisions and decide if everything is warranted.
- Evaluate your income. Is your income enough to keep up with your spending habits? Take a look at what you bring in and determine if you need to spend less.
- Reviewing recurring expenses. Take a look at items such as insurance policies, mobile phone plans, cable service, etc. Can you make changes there to save some money?
- Determine your shopping stops ahead of time. Make a plan to shop only at specific stores. Limiting the number of stores you go to will limit the number of unnecessary purchases--saving you time and money!
- Shop with a shopping list. Create a shopping list--and stick with it! Get what is on your list to avoid purchasing the other items that catch your eye.
Find patterns in your behavior. Look for trends. For instance:
- Do you shop because of stress or boredom? If you are bored and shop, you may be making unnecessary purchases.
- Are you rushing in the morning? If you don’t have time to slow down and eat, you may get the temptation to stop and grab food and coffee--which adds up daily!
- Do you opt for free trials and forget to cancel? We all do this! You are excited to try a new service, and you forget to cancel it. Make sure that you make a note to cancel when you decide you no longer want the service. Try doing it at that moment to prevent charges if you forget later.
- Do you routinely incur late fees? Late fees can add up. Create a calendar for when things are due to avoid paying late fees. Also, pay bills early if you can.
- Are there services you do not use? There are so many cool things out there: subscription boxes, streaming, rental clothes--you name it! But are you using them all? Take a look at what you can do without, and you will begin making better “sign-up” choices.
Create new habits. Everything we do is habitual. If spending is a problem, rework it for a solution. Here are some things that may help create new habits:
- Drive a different way to work to avoid making specific purchases.
- Carry only cash. You can’t spend what you don’t have.
- Find free or low-cost events to attend. Once there, they usually guide you to others.
When and Where to Spend Less
There are many key areas you can focus on to spend less, including:
- Audit your food habits. Do you need the name brand? Can you swap for the item on sale?
- Replace eating out with convenience meals at home. Eating out at restaurants can add up---quickly! Schedule your restaurant trips for something unique and eat in your own home more often.
- Buy in bulk. While it is a more upfront cost, buying in bulk tends to be cheaper per unit. If you know you will purchase that much in the long run, buy the bulk instead. Not only will it save you money, but it will also save you trips to the store. Additionally, if you are going to eat at home more, buying in bulk helps you to prepare many meals ahead of time since you have enough ingredients.
- Consider forgetting brand names. Do you need the name brand? Some people do like the name-brand stuff, but that can get pricey. Try a discount retailer that gives you the name brand, but without the hefty price tag.
- Shop consignment or thrift stores. Consignment and thrift stores provide you with hidden gems but without the price tag. People often donate clothes they no longer wear to these locations, selling them at discounted rates.
- Shop every other week.
- Count the number of stores you visit in a week and then cut that by 50%.
- Limit the number of “extras” off your list that you allow yourself to place into your shopping cart.
- Challenge yourself to have no-spend days or weeks.
- Call your cable company and see if you can reduce your monthly bill, likewise, with your cell phone service.
- Shop at warehouse stores. Often, you’ll find lower prices than you would at your neighborhood stores.
How to Save
- Audit your habits. Take a look at your bank statement. How many times have you purchased a cup of coffee? How many stores have you visited? See what stands out and what changes you can make.
- Bank your surplus. Do you usually spend $200 on restaurants a month? If you spent only $50 on your new savings plan, take the other $150 and put it in the bank. Do this for all your spending, and your savings will build quickly.
- Look for a new financial institution. If you are looking for a new bank, shop around. Banks often offer incentives to open an account with them. Some will deposit a few hundred dollars in your account if you bank with them.
- Look for higher interest rates. For instance, search for savings accounts with the highest interest rate.
- Invest. You can grow your money simply by investing wisely. Consider talking to an investment advisor or invest in safe mutual funds in a diversified portfolio.
The best way to save money is to have it added for you! Check the interest rates at your financial institution and find the highest one. The more you put in there, the more you make off of it.
Changing your spending habits is not easy. It is a lifestyle change. Start with one thing you can change and work from there. Start with your audits and evaluate what changes you will make. From there, take baby steps. Over time, you will feel free and richer!