You want to save money. Whether it’s to create an emergency fund or to set up a retirement fund, you need to find extra money to save. That means you need to curb the problem of spending money.
Of course, it sounds simple. Just stop spending money! Stop buying things!
If only it was that easy. I know what you’re thinking. There are bill to pay, the kids need new clothes, you don’t want to cook dinner.
I’ll admit that I’ve found lockdown the easiest for saving money. I’ve not made as many impulse buys as I usually would. There’s something about buying online that makes me not spend money. I guess it’s because I actually have to click the “buy” button or I have to put in my credit card details. It’s not as simple as just tapping my card in a store. I also don’t walk past a store and think “oh, I could do with [insert whatever I’ve seen in the window].”
It’s not just about not shopping, though. I’ve had a chance to look at my reasons for spending money and assess what I really need to buy.
Eventually, things will return to normal. Shopping outside is going to happen again. And it’s going to mean putting tips I’ve built up during lockdown in practice when things are normal again.
Here are seven ways I’ve curbed the problem of spending money and how you might be able to, too.
1. Understand why you’re spending money
The first thing I did was understand why I was spending money. As we went into lockdown, I was able to understand more about my spending habits.
There were some expenditures that couldn’t be cut. Rent still needed to be paid and there were plenty of bills. But what about lunches? What about the purchases when you’re out shopping?
I’ve had to reassess why I spend money when I do. Knowing why I’m buying a new top or a new pair of shoes helps me curb spending. It helps me decide whether it’s something necessary. After all, part of spending money is psychology.
Take a step back from your money problems and look at why you’re spending. What are you trying to achieve by spending money, especially when it doesn’t involve bills and rent?
2. Create a budget you know is realistic
Budgeting is one of the best ways to save money. I’ve been budgeting for a long time. While it didn’t curb all my spending, it has helped me put money away in emergency fund and long-term savings.
However, you can’t just create any budget. You need to make one that’s realistic.
Start by adding your income together. Then you can take off the rent, utility bills, and other essential outgoings. What you have left is what you can save and spend.
When you start to see this amount, you’ll start to see money differently. You’ll assess the money you’re spending in another light, especially if you want to save.
3. Plan your meals and bulk cook
Eating out is one of the biggest problems for spending money. If you’re not eating out, you’re probably ordering in. There was a month a while back where our credit cards reached a high. When I looked back, I realized that most of the money was on eating out or takeout.
Instead, you want to make most of the meals at home. Plan your meals and when you grocery shop, only buy the ingredients you need. You’ll avoid spending money on snacks and extras.
When you’re home, bulk cook your meals. This has been the most beneficial for us. There are meals that can be used for lunches and you have dinners already prepared. One of the best things is that you don’t need to worry about what you’re making for dinner. You just have to reheat it.
By not having to make dinner, you won’t get home and think takeout is the easier option.
4. Stop buying lunch and coffees out
Next, you need to turn your attention to lunches and coffees. It’s so simple to grab a coffee on the way past the local Starbucks. Or you may decide to grab a quick sandwich or burger on your lunch break.
Those are just little costs, right? Just $5 or $10 here and there.
Well, those costs soon add up. A $5 coffee per day can add up to $155 per month. That $10 lunch per day can be $310 per month. That’s a lot when you start adding up the years.
Remember the bulk cooking? Make something to take to work with you for lunch. Get a thermos to take your coffee to work with you.
There’s no need to spend when you’re out.
5. Set up a direct debit to save money
Treat your savings as an expenditure that you have to pay. Make it like a bill, so you end up paying it before you even start spending it. And if it’s set up as a direct debit, there’s no need to even think about moving the money.
After moving a percentage of my income for tax purposes, I think move a set amount into the various savings accounts that we have. This is done on payday so that the money can’t be spent elsewhere.
6. Get rid of the emails
One of the biggest problems for spending money for me was the emails that I’d sign up to. I’d get emails from various stores with discount offers or loyalty offers. Many of them would have a specific deadline, making me need to buy.
This is a tactic. There’s that sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). FOMO makes you spend money when you don’t actually need to. It makes you buy something that you don’t actually need; you just want. In fact, you may not even want it! You just don’t want to miss out on it.
So, I started to get rid of the emails that I was signed up to. There are still some that I’m subscribed to (groceries and books) but I unsubscribed to everything that involved clothes, shoes, or non-essential items.
I didn’t feel the need to spend.
7. Do you need it or just want it?
Finally, you need to look at the items you’re buying. There are some items that you will definitely need. You’ll need to spend money on your rent and your bills. Food will be necessary.
But what about other items? Before I buy something, I take a good look at it. Do I need it or do I just want it?
If I definitely need it, then it’s a purchase. But thinking carefully certainly helped me curb the problem of spending money. Most of the time, I just want something. I can make do with what I already have in the house.
It’s time to curb the problem of spending money. You can save more. I promise you.