As the popular saying goes, the best way to double money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket. In other words, you can’t save money if you’re always spending it.
For most people, saving is a lot harder than spending. There are so many daily temptations to spend money even when you can’t afford it.
On the bright side, you can still reduce your spending even if you don’t want to feel deprived or limited. Here are some clever ways to stop spending so much money all the time so you can do other things with your cash instead.
1. Break Down Your Monthly Budget
While it’s great to have a monthly budget, some of your unplanned extra purchases occur day-to-day. This means, you’ll need to put some safeguards in place to ensure that you’re keeping an eye on your spending more often.
A monthly budget or spending plan is a great way to get a clear overview of how you plan to spend over the next 30 days. However, if you find that you’re always overspending, try to break that down.
For example, if you have $400 left to spend after all your expenses and savings are covered, break that up into a $100/week free-spend budget to stick to. Sometimes you can even give yourself a daily number that you don’t want to exceed. ie. $15/day. Challenge yourself to have a few no spend days so you can roll that amount to the next day if needed.
2. Use Cash
Switching to a cash budget last year was one of the best moves I could have made financially. I still keep money in my checking account to cover automatic withdrawals and other bill payments.
However, I take cash out each month to cover expenses like groceries, dining out, pets, haircuts, household items, gifts, misc. etc.
It’s much easier to manage my spending in this area by using the cash envelope budgeting system. I don’t have to worry about overspending since I can only spend the money in the envelope. I can even borrow from some categories if need be.
3. Find Cheaper Alternatives For Splurges
Track your spending to identify some of your biggest splurges throughout the month. Some expenses may not seem big at first, but when you review your bank statement, you’ll see that little purchases add up.
I’m not a big coffee drinker but I love indulging and buying Starbucks every now and then. Over the past month I got into a bad habit of buying Starbucks several times per week just to perk myself up on the days that I was feeling tired or unmotivated.
Of course, those $5 cups of coffee added up but luckily, I purchased a Keurig machine from the Facebook marketplace. The other day, I was walking around in Target and craving some Starbucks. Instead of buying a $5 iced coffee, I spend $10 on a box of Starbucks k-cups instead.
The box contained 16 cups of caramel flavored Starbucks coffee which seemed liked a much better deal. Instead, I’m able to indulge in my coffee fix for just over $0.62 per cup. Your splurge may not be coffee, but you can apply a similar principle. See if there’s a cheaper way to obtain the splurge so you can enjoy it without overspending.
4. Meal Prep
Have takeout and fast food stops gotten the best of you lately? Buying restaurant food can be tempting because it’s convenient and there are often so many options.
As a major foodie myself, I find that it’s best to meal prep in order to avoid spending so much extra money on dining out.
I went to Walmart and purchased a pack of 10-meal prep containers for under $10. On Sundays, I carve out two hours of the day to meal prep. During this time, I prepare my lunch for the entire week and two big dinners that can cover two nights each.
This means, I usually don’t have to cook anything until Friday. Having all my food ready and prepped in the fridge helps relieve the stress of cooking every night and prevents me from wanting to buy fast food or takeout.
5. Empty Your Wallet
Have you ever gone to the store and realized that you didn’t have your wallet or debit card when you reached the checkout? It’s an embarrassing feeling and you probably just want to walk out of the store quickly without buying anything. This experience can actually work in your favor when you want to stop spending money.
When you go to an event or before entering a store, empty your wallet ahead of time to avoid making impulse purchases. Only carry the money that you need if you’re shopping bring a list so you can focus on exactly what you came for.
In the past when I’d go to happy hours or events with friends, I’d leave my wallet at home and just bring a little cash and my I.D. so I could keep my spending under control. It helped a ton and didn’t take away from the overall experience or ability to make long-lasting memories.