We've all heard this advice before: if you want to save money, you need to cut back on spending. However, it's not always so easy. Identifying senseless spending in the following areas can help you save more each month.
But don't fret. Whether you are saving to buy a new home, saving for a great vacation, or just trying to add to your “emergency fund,” these little changes can help you to curb senseless spending that quickly adds up.
Create Visual Reminders
Do this for things such as debt or the cost of something you're saving for. Seeing these numbers on a regular basis will help you commit to cutting back.
Visual reminders can be in your phone reminder app, a budget journal (which is fun to decorate and create), or even just putting a piece of paper on the wall and setting daily goals you can cross off. Being able to physically cross something off is rewarding, and if you can constantly see it you'll be less afraid of opening your bank app.
You may have heard that making a list before heading out to the grocery store can cut down on impulse purchases. But did you know that you can use this same strategy when buying clothing to decrease spending and ensure you buy what you need, rather than what looks good in the store?
Lists should be purposeful. Don't list anything that comes to mind right away. Instead, create columns:
- What I want
- What I need
Be honest with yourself about if this is a want or a need. A want is something that isn't essential to your daily functioning or isn't needed right now. If you're on the border of if this is a want/need, chances are it's a want. You'll know right away when something is a need, as humans we instinctually can determine what is important for our survival and functioning.
From there, don't toss your want list! Hang up your want list to remind yourself what you're saving for. Is that extra coffee or lunch out worth it? Look at your want list. Dream it and achieve it.
Instead of buying paper towels and napkins, opt for dish towels and cloth napkins, which can be used again and again.
This might mean more washing, but combining items into larger loads will still save you more time and money than constantly spending money and time on paper products. We know — they're convenient. They're also not as nice to the look of your home and your wallet! Save the paper products for times when you have a large volume of people to feed, like a party.
Lower Utility Bills
Utility prices are a common source of hidden spending. Bundle your TV, phone, and internet for a cheaper price; or consider cutting your cable. There are many alternatives that will allow you to continue watching your favorite TV shows and movies for a lower monthly bill.
Cutting cable can be a good option, but don't load up on streaming services for content. Make a list of what shows and TV is important to you, and find which streaming services are providing them. If you have a smart TV, download these apps:
- Pluto or Xumo — it's free TV! You'd be surprised what channels you can access for free.
- Youtube. Good for entertaining cat videos and watching important news updates! A lot of people like ABC and NBC do livestreams on YouTube now.
- Crackle. Movies and TV for free. Enough said there!
- PBS kids. If you have young children, this is a good option in addition to YouTube Kids for safe kid-friendly content.
Plan Out Everything From Groceries to Entertainment.
Planning your weekly meals will help you eliminate dining out. Plan for and balance your monthly entertainment activities to avoid overspending.
Put a white-board on your fridge and plan daily meals. You can find magnetic white boards at your local dollar store or retailer with an office section. This way, seeing what exactly you need to make and buy will make you less tempted to overspend on groceries and the dreaded pricy drive-thru. Free planner sheets online can be good for this sort of venture!
Making a list is a no-brainer, but many grocery store websites now allow you to create a list online and give you a total for all of your purchases. This method allows you to make substitutions when necessary, and stick to the sales, as well as your budget.
However, avoid services that might charge monthly fees. This is the opposite of helpful!
Planning out entertainment can be tough, considering a lot of outings can be spur of the moment adventures. Make yourself dedicated to telling friends and family you're sticking to a budget, so keeping the activities free or low cost will be good for everyone! Invite them over and watch a movie or have a hike! Free activities are still fun. However, if you still need your fix of activities that still cost money, try the following.
- Honey (a browser extension that searches for deals)
Avoid Bank Fees
Total the amount of fees you've incurred over the past six months to a year (including ATM fees), and consider changing accounts, or even banks, to eliminate unnecessary costs.
Make it a point to check your bank account daily to track your spending habits. There are also a ton of apps available now for spending analysis.
- Clarity Money
All of these can be good options, and check with your bank on what they recommend. Some have in-house services for this sort of thing!
Cut Back on Transportation Costs
Carpooling to and from work, even if it's only one or two days a week, can save a lot on gas and car maintenance. Pick a mutual location, and invite as many coworkers as you can. Check out your local park and ride locations! They're a safe option to park and leave your car for extended periods of time since many have security cameras.
Do the Math
Everyone knows that it's far cheaper to BYO coffee rather than stop for a cup on the way to the office, but don't believe that single cup, at-home coffee machines are more economical. To really save, stick to a good, old-fashioned pot of coffee.
Break Your Piggy Bank
Save your loose change! Clean out your car, gather change from the bottom of your purse, and check your pockets. Designate a jar, and don't cash in until it's full. Ask your bank if they have a coin counting machine available to cash in with, since most grocery store machines will charge a 10% or more cut of your change.
Whether you're saving up for your first home or a home renovation, budgeting doesn't have to be a burden. Start right in your home with these 12 small savings suggestions, and audit your energy costs as an easy way to start saving for any project, large or small.
LPL Tracking #1-05178841