Do you struggle to keep your spending under control? An article from USA Today reported that the average U.S. adult spends $1,497 a month on nonessential items. That’s roughly $18,000 per year that just slips through their fingers!
If this sounds familiar, then not to worry. Spending less money doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut down to the bone or follow the advice of so-called gurus. There are actually some pretty simple steps you can take starting today that could begin producing results almost immediately.
Here are nine of my favorite ways to easily spend less money.
1. Stick to a Budget
People who budget their money are far more likely to make conscious purchases and keep their spending to a minimum. By contrast, without a budget, it’s almost impossible for someone to accurately know how much they’ve spent in a given month.
Budgeting doesn’t have to require complex spreadsheets or tracking every penny you spend. You can use a helpful app like Buxfer to monitor your purchases in real-time and make sure your spending is on track.
2. Trim the Fat
Have you ever noticed that in a given month your spending adds up to way more than you thought it would? Maybe it’s because you picked up a few extra things at the grocery store or made some impulse purchases on Amazon? Either way, you know the problem is that you’ve got some fat inside your budget.
To fight back, take a closer look at your purchases and try to determine which ones keep showing up. Zero in on what’s causing them and what you could do differently to avoid them (or at least find cheaper substitutes).
3. Make More Intentional Purchases
A great way to stay on budget and steer clear of randomly buying things is to make a list. Write down 3 to 5 things that you actually want or need, and then stick to it.
The next time you go shopping, you’ll be amazed at how this works. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. That way you won’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s “on-sale” or a “good deal”.
The nice thing about this strategy is that you’re not totally cutting yourself off from all purchases. You can still technically get something as long as it was on your list. That’s a nice way to compromise and still treat yourself!
4. Redefine the Meaning of Fun
A lot of people believe that to have a good time they need to spend lots of money. This will definitely happen if your only definition of a good time is to go on a lavish vacation, major sporting event, or to the concert of a well-known performer.
However, spending more money doesn’t always equate to having more fun. There are lots of ways couples and families can enjoy one another while spending a very minimal amount of money.
For instance, you could:
- Play at the park
- Have a picnic
- Visit the zoo (on a no-cost day)
- Look for local free shows
- Go camping
For more fun, inexpensive things to do together, check out this list here.
5. Don’t Replace Things Until It’s Time
Have you been thinking about buying a new vehicle, TV, or furniture set because the one you have now is a few years old? Is there anything wrong with the one you’re using now? If not, then stick with it.
By holding out until it’s actually time, you’ll not only get your money’s worth out of the current item, but you’ll also delay purchasing the new one. That’s going to help keep your budget in check.
6. Plan Your Meals
If eating out and stocking up your kitchen seems to be where all your money goes, then you’re not alone. Food ranks as the Number 3 expense behind housing and transportation for the average American household.
One place where we can all do better is at the grocery store. While we might attempt to buy perishable items like fruits and vegetables with the best of intentions, a lot of them end up going unused and thrown in the trash. That’s a huge waste of money!
For better chances of actually using the things you purchase, make a list of your meals for the week and plan your trip accordingly. This will help you to only buy the items or ingredients that you actually need and will use for the week.
7. Don’t Buy a Vehicle Until You Have the Cash For It
The next time you’re shopping for a vehicle, consider waiting until you’re able to pay for it with cash. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid taking out a loan and paying thousands of extra dollars in unnecessary interest.
According to the site Value Penguin, the national average for U.S. auto loan interest rates is 5.27 percent on 60-month loans. To put this into context, a $20,000 vehicle would cost you a total of $22,794, meaning you’ll pay an extra $2,794 over the life of the loan.
These numbers get worse as the loan length increases. For instance, the same loan extended for 84 months would cost $23,959. That’s $3,959 in just interest that could all be saved if you just used cash instead.
8. Avoid Debt
Speaking of loans, it can be tempting to want to buy things on credit or take out a loan to spread out the payments. However, the more you do this, the more of a drain it’s going to have on your budget.
Even if the loan is interest-free, you’ll still want to avoid it because it will cut into your monthly cash flow. For example, just five purchases that are $200 each will eat up $1,000 of your monthly income.
To stay lean, avoid taking out loans or opening lines of credit unless it’s a life or death situation. Make a habit of only buying something if you could pay for it with cash on the spot.
9. Don’t Give In
Spending less money and keeping your expenses down isn’t going to be easy. Each day and everywhere you go, you’re constantly being bombarded with advertising and messages that are enticing you to buy the latest products and be better consumers. But you’re smarter than that!
Remember the reasons why you’re trying to manage your finances better in the first place. Chances are that it was because you had some other higher goal in mind like being able to move to a dream location, provide for your children, or reach financial freedom.
Whatever your reason is, still stick to it. You’ll be much happier in the end and have the satisfaction of knowing you were able to accomplish your goal.
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