Your Mindset is Your Biggest Asset. If you have the mindset that you have no control over your situation, then you’ll have no control over your situation. Plain and simple. To really make progress you have to believe that it can be done.
You have to have the mindset that all things are possible and that you can dig yourself out of whatever situation you’re in – because you can. You can’t expect instant results but you can move an inch in the right direction every day.
Those small movements will eventually compound and become massive.
Spend Less Than You Earn. I don’t focus too much on frugality here because it’s always come naturally to me. I don’t derive much joy from spending money, I never have. I don’t deprive myself either. I strike that balance where I buy what I want but do so in smart ways that aren’t going to take 15 hours of my time.
If you’re currently spending more money than you earn or are barely able to get by you need to focus on getting that aspect under control first. (Because if you earn more money and then spend it all – what’s the point?)
Here are 10 super practical ways to spend less than you earn.
# 1 – Be Financially Aware
I know many people who are in complete denial about their financial situation. They are up to their eyeballs in debt and yet are always scheming up new things they need to go into debt for.
If this is you please, snap out of it.
Go through all of your expenses and write down where you actually stand.
- How much do you spend every month and on what?
- What are you debt levels like?
- What are you savings like?
- What are your dreams?!
Knowledge is power. Know where you stand.
Don’t blame yourself for past mistakes but don’t pretend like they don’t exist. We all make mistakes and we all have the ability to self-correct. Be 100% honest with yourself or no “savings hacks” will ever do you any good.
# 2 – Take Your Savings From the Top
This is my favorite “anti-budgeting” method. From time to time I’ll diligently track my expenses but it never lasts. It just doesn’t fit naturally with my personality.
So, instead I take my savings from the top.
I have certain income streams that are automatically sent to savings, one just for taxes, and certain income streams that I spend. It works extremely well.
I never have to worry that I’m not saving money on a particular month because it’s automatic. This worked great even when I made much less money.
If you have a hard time saving money then set it up to be automatic. Out of sight, out of mind.
# 3 – Slowly Lower the Non-Essentials Spending
If you’re financial awareness resulted in the realization that you’re spending too much money on pointless things then take some action.
Start lowering the amount you’re spending on non-essentials. However, you must go about this in a very careful way. Don’t completely burn yourself out. Determine what realistic cuts you can make this month and then keep going until you reach the desired amount.
Also, I’m not saying you should never buy things you want. Quite the opposite in fact. You should just have an intentional plan for doing so that includes financial responsibility.
# 4 – Balance Your Checkbook Often
Yep, go old school and balance your checkbook often. This will help you stay aware of your spending habits. (And keep you from overdrawing.)
# 5 – Go For Easy Wins (Cell Phone, TV, Internet)
There are some easy ways you can save money without lowering the quality of service you get.
Cell Phones – Unfortunately for me the only phones that work where we live right now are AT&T. However, when I lived closer to town I did use Republic Wireless for quite a while. Republic Wireless is one company that has cell phone service starting at $5/month. They aren’t the only company with good rates though – shop around!
TV – If you don’t want to give up TV (no judgement here) call and ask for a lower rate or switch providers. When I lived by myself I relied solely on Amazon Prime and DVDs for more than a year.
Internet – Same deal. Check around on different options or simply call your provider and see if you can get a better rate.
There’s never any harm in asking.
# 6 – Pay Off High Interest Debt
If one of your financial goals includes paying off debt then go ahead and tackle the loan with the highest interest rate. If you have a high balance you could save yourself a TON of money by quickly (or quickly as possible for you) paying this off.
Paying interest is no fun and can cost you dearly.
# 7 – Reconsider Your Housing Situation
This is a tip people don’t like to hear but I have to include it – this one thing SAVED me financially after a divorce.
Your housing can quickly eat up the majority of your income. If you’re paying too much for your current housing expenses you should at least consider other options.
And remember, downgrades aren’t permanent. They are simply temporary sacrifices for your greater financial good. (Also known as delayed gratification.)
# 8 – Don’t Finance Your Life for a Car
One thing I hear people complain about often is their car payment. I totally get it. When I was pregnant with my first daughter I financed an $18,000 car when I was only making $18,000 per year.
After I paid that sucker off I decided to never get a car loan again, and I haven’t.
If you have to finance a car make sure that it’s a reasonable proportion to your income. I personally like Financial Samurai’s rule in regards to this – your car budget should be 1/10th of your annual income.
Personally, I’m driving my car until it dies. (It’s a 2007 and I hope I can get another 7-8 years out of it.)
# 9 – Figure Out Who Has the Best Prices on Stuff You Buy/Need
I don’t think you should go through life never buying anything. If so, what’s the point of earning money?
You need to manage your money in a very intentional way. One easy way to save on these types of purchases is to figure out who has the best prices on the things you commonly buy. You’ll be saving money on a repeated basis.
# 10 – Use a Deal Site to Save Money
Using a deal site to save money is pretty much a no-brainer. If you’ve never used a deal site – I promise they will save you money as long as you’re only purchasing with intention.
If you’re a Discover Card customer you can use Discover Deals to earn cash back. If you’re responsible with your credit cards this is an extremely easy way to save money.
Just log into the Discover Deals portal and find a deal for where you’re shopping. Easy and so much quicker and more convenient than clipping coupons.
Also, new cardmembers who sign up for a Discover it card before the end of the year will earn double Cashback Bonus® for the first year!
There’s No Such Thing as Perfect
There’s no such thing as perfect, or even a “right way,” to do things. We’re all different and we all make mistakes.
If you need to save money, for whatever reason, just jump in and give things a try. You should absolutely remain aware of your financial situation but will need to tweak your savings method and financial plan to your individual needs.
What practical ways do you save money?
A big thanks to Discover for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.