“I’m going to start cutting back on expenses next week… This is the last time I pay for this… I’ll set some aside next month.”
At one point or another, we’ve all said something similar to ourselves. Often times, these resolutions are forgotten. Sometimes we have to take a more proactive approach. These not-so-common techniques will help you save money. When thinking about the bigger picture, such as a buying a home, having a dream wedding or just planning for the unexpected by saving up, take these into consideration.
An essential aspect of spending less is taking control of your mind and impulses, then making an inventory of spending habits. It’d be easier to tell you to change your habits. It’d feel right to tell you that it’s in your head and comfort is little else than a state of mind. These are all ethereal things, frequently out of reach. We want to give you valuable financial strategies, monetary tips and solid steps you can take that will have a measurable outcome. Pop culture will make you think you can meditate your way to anything these days… But, let’s be pragmatic and get you some down-to-earth advice.
Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts.
Impulses are a heck-of-a-thing. The success of online shopping is partly due to the ease of purchasing a product. Many people’s finances are riddled with “auto-pay” and “one-click-pay.” Yours may be too. When you have to input payment information, you avoid making mindless purchases while multitasking. Doing anything while your mind is distracted is not advisable. Those few minutes it takes to input credit card numbers and billing information helps consumers stop and really analyze the expense.
Perhaps, it’s not needed… Perhaps, you’re just hoarding…
While on the subject, who else has your credit card information? Subscriptions, that’s who! That monthly subscription to “Fish Country Magazine,” that a kid convinced us to sign up for in the parking lot of a Whole Foods Market, does little else than create an unread stack of issues.
Tip: Take inventory of what, when and why a service has your credit card information then delete, delete and delete!
Impose a waiting period for big purchases.
Impulsively buying something expensive that might represent a good chunk of your income may have far reaching consequences. Sometimes, leasing a sporty and compact Hyundai Accent might bring your more joy than the BMW X5. Particularly when you take the frustration of being broke more often into consideration.
5/6 Americans make impulse purchases, 20% of which are $1,000 or more. **
For large purchases, a waiting period should be more than 24 hours. One of three things will occur—
—You will forget about the purchase altogether, meaning it wasn’t essential.
—You take a deep look at you finances and have second thoughts (or better ones)!
—Or lastly, you will crave the item even more.
The latter being your ideal reaction, because it means you should probably go for it and make the purchase.
Buy in bulk, buy generic.
It’s not just about what you buy, it’s about the amount and the type. Firstly, don’t let marketing schemes put a veil over your eyes. Often times, buying a brand name product can be unnecessarily costly, whereas a generic product is more economic and just as effective. When considering any product, ask yourself these questions:
- Can I find a cheaper brand?
- Does the cheaper brand have identical ingredients?
- What do people say about them (testimonial)?
Even for smaller purchases, research is key. Once you have considered the brand, buying in bulk is a time-tested and proven method to utilize your money adequately. The basic rules governing this technique is economy. The store still makes profit. Then, they order more items in bulk themselves, thereby lowering their cost. The savings trickle down to you.
Also, it’s important to stock up on items that won’t mold or simply expire before you actually get to use them. Consider investing in bulk cleaning supplies, dried pasta and non-perishable goods. Don’t forget to account for pet food if applicable.
Families of four spend between $636.00 and $1,268.00 on food monthly.***
Track your expenses in detail for 1 month.
Make your budget work for you by tracking it. How can you know if you’re overspending if you don’t know how much you’ve spent and on what? Frequently, your small expenses are the ones that sneak up and really break the bank… The fact of the matter is that if you want to keep money, you need to control it.
First, create your budget. Write down what your monthly income is and then record all your monthly expenses. This is pivotal. Make sure that you pencil in every single expense.
Lastly, add up your expenses (include everything from your rent/mortgage to your movie tickets) and subtract that from your income. What’s left over? Savings!
Budget your grocery spending.
Shopping centers are designed to maximize your spending. The expensive and unhealthy items are always at reach. The lighting is just right while the music plays a perfect tune created and tested to twist your judgement. The fact of the matter is that even if you spend $100 a week, you can do a lot better.
- Source: FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, 2018; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CEX, calculations by The Hartman Group. Estimates labeled to reflect year of publication, based on data collected at beginning of year or during prior year.
There are many techniques you can employ, such as using a credit card for the purchase to collect cash back or member points. Also, take advantage of weekly ads when planning your meals. A fun activity might take place around the dining room table on any given Sunday. Take out the weekly advertisements for your local grocery story and plan each weekday meal, based on the items on sale.
Naturally, there are a plethora of techniques available. Before moving on to the next topic, check out this list of ideas:
- Shop at discount grocery stores.
- Explore drugstore specials.
- Don’t shop hungry.
- Use a smaller cart.
- Find the clearance aisle.
Take a “staycation.”
Flamboyant hotels, shiny-buttoned bellhops and tequila sunrises sound tempting. But, do you really need to take out a second mortgage just to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms to a beautiful island near Bali? Think about what you really want out of your vacation and find the cheapest way to meet that criteria. Imagine you wanted a different environment where you could disconnect from your devices to feel rejuvenated. Do you book a flight to Aruba? Negative. Instead, book 3 nights at a hotel just 10 miles away from home. It works perfectly! You will be recharged with a new perspective on life for only 5% of the cost.
* According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX).
** According to The Motley Fool