When it comes to budgeting and spending, you’ve heard all the usual tips like taking your lunch to work instead of eating out or brewing your own coffee instead of picking up Starbucks. But if you’ve done those things and are still looking for a few extra ways to cut down on your spending, I have some ideas for you.
Make yourself a 30-day promise
If you’re in the habit of buying things that aren’t necessities, you can nip that habit by making yourself a 30-day promise. Whenever you want to buy something that you don’t absolutely need, you write down the item and the date you thought about buying it. Promise yourself that if it’s still important to you in 30 days, you’ll buy it.
Periodically revisit that list, and when you hit the 30-day mark since the time you wrote it down, give yourself permission to buy it. More than likely, the strong urge to buy it will be gone. Thirty days isn’t that long to wait for something you really want, and chances are the price will have dropped by then.
Use this trick for anything that’s not a necessity including clothing, shoes, makeup, tools, books, etc. At the very least, you’ll be able to make a clearer and calmer decision after 30 days have passed.
Calculate Purchases in Terms of Hours Worked
Have you ever broken down your salary to calculate your hourly wage? The easy way to do that is to remove the last three zeroes of your salary, and then divide by two. So, if you earn $40,000 per year, that’s approximately $20 per hour.
The next time you are about to make an impulse purchase on something that is not a necessity, consider whether it’s worth the number of hours you worked to get that money. If you make $40,000, is a $200 pair of boots really worth a full 10 hours of work?
Even many household expenses are NOT necessities; they are luxuries. Maybe you are in the habit of spending a lot of money on fertilizer, grass seed, weed killer, birdhouses, and lawn ornaments because you want to have the nicest looking yard in the neighborhood. If you spent $500 beautifying your house and yard this year, consider whether that was worth 25 hours of work, more than half your entire workweek.
Also about small purchases. Rather than picking up a $10 toy for your kid while you are at the store, consider thrift stores, hand-me-downs, or even whether she already has enough toys! You might not think about it at the time, but that impulse $10 you spent took you a half hour of work to earn!
Take Advantage Of Discounts
Except for those obsessive folks on “Extreme Couponing,” not many people cut coupons from the paper anymore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get discounts. Before heading out to get groceries, do a quick google search of “Tide detergent coupons” or “Heinz ketchup coupons” or whatever brand name items you have on your grocery list. Print from home, and you’re set to go.
Another great source for discounts is RetailMeNot.com, a site that provides discount codes and deals for countless different websites, including percent off and free shipping offers. Promise yourself you will NEVER make a purchase online before checking that site first for a coupon code. I’ve been using them for years, and I can’t even begin to guess how much money I’ve saved. I have no affiliation with them – I’m just a satisfied consumer – but I can almost promise you will save money if you utilize that site.
Take Up An Inexpensive Hobby
Hobbies not only open your world to new ideas and experiences but they also take up your time, which is important if you’re someone who tends to entertain yourself by shopping or going out. If you spend an afternoon biking or geocaching instead of shoe shopping or dropping 20 bucks at the movies, your savings can really add up.
Hobbies don’t have to be about collecting pricey memorabilia or purchasing expensive equipment. Think about different things that might interest you – learning to draw, going fishing or exploring your genealogy – and expand your horizons!
The One To Ignore
In researching this article, I read a simple money-saving tip, “Don’t own a pet – even fish cost money to keep alive.” Ack! When I think about the amount of money we spend on high quality kibble, vet care, and boarding for our three big dogs, I consider it a very good investment for the companionship and joy they give us. Pets add so much to our lives, and there are studies showing pets are good for our mental and physical health. Certainly if you are on a tight budget, consider a smaller pet.
The lesson here – don’t go overboard in your frugality. There are some times where spending a lot of money is still money well spent.
I hope I’ve given you some new ideas for spending less money. Spending less on everyday purchases will lead to an increase in your emotional wellness, because you won’t experience the stress that comes about from living beyond your means. Spending less also gives you more breathing room in your budget for the things that really matter to you. I’m not advocating that you don’t spend money – just that you spend it on the things you value the most.
Related Article: Want To Eliminate All Your Money Stress? Make A Budget!