In the words of Maya Angelou, “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but has not solved one yet.”
While it’s normal to occasionally have hateful feelings, holding on to this feeling for too long can be unhealthy to the mind and body. Because of this, there aren’t too many things that I would say that I detest.
However, there are couple of things that really gets my blood boiling. For example, people throwing trash out their car window. When it was sheperd’s pie day at school — which is odd since it’s pretty much ground meat and mashed potatoes. And, whenever the Gin Blossoms, the 90’s band behind tracks like “Hey Jealously, comes on the radio.
But, above all, I HATE frivolous spending. It’s not that I’m a cheap. It’s just that wasting my hard earned money prevents me from accomplishing important goals, like building an emergency fund, going on vacation, or establishing a nest egg.
Thankfully, you can use the following strategies to spend less, save more, and release those toxic hateful feelings.
1. Find your beliefs.
“It starts with asking yourself a series of questions that go deeper and deeper to discover the true meaning of why you are overspending your money,” says Alex Craig of HaveaRichMarriage.com.
“The technique that works is the Five-Fold Why, which is asking yourself, ‘Why?’ until you have discovered the deeper meaning,” he adds.
If you would like to put the technique into action, pick an area of spending that you feel guilty about or would like to cut back on, he suggests. If you’re stuck, this is often an area where you overspend.
If you aren’t sure whether you overspend in an area, Alex recommends that you do some research to find out if you’re overspending. “Otherwise, you may want to consider if you need to spend $600 per month on restaurants,” he says.
Once you have located the area, ask yourself, “Why?” several times until you uncover the reason why you are spending.
To illustrate, Alex discovered that he was overspending on clothes in the following ways;
- “Why am I spending so much on clothes when I have plenty in my closet?”
- “Because I want to look good.”
- “Why do I want to look good?”
- “Because I like when people tell me I look nice.”
For Alex, this helped him make progress. “I can see that it is no longer about spending money on clothes, but spending money because I want people to compliment me.”
By learning the real reason for spending, we can start taking action against it.
2. Record your expenses.
If you want to save money and spend responsibly, you must understand your cash flow. That’s non-negotiable.
But, what exactly does this entail? At the very least, you should keep track of your monthly net income, your monthly expenses, and your savings at the end of the month. From there, you will calculate your expenses, subtract them from your income, and see what is left.
It’s crucial to keep track of every expense, no matter how small. For example, the other night I was craving some tacos, so I stopped by my local taco shop. Even though I only spent $10, if I didn’t keep track of that, it could throw off my budget.
In short, make a habit of recording every penny spent to calculate your weekly expenses. Then, you can observe what you can improve.
I know that this is a lot of work upfront. The good news? There are more than expense tracker apps and tools to make this a little less taxing. Some examples include Mint, You Need a Budget, Goodbudget, Expensify, and Unsplurge.
3. Enact a spending freeze.
“Pick a length of time: a week, a month, six months—where you don’t buy any products or services you don’t absolutely need. This spending freeze helps you save money faster,” advises Rachel Ellen over at You Need a Budget. “Then give this spending sacrifice a ‘why’ (maybe you want to have enough money for Christmas flights home or to build an emergency fund).”
Now that you know why you spend, you may be able to pause on those impulsive purchases. Moreover, there’s a finish line in sight — don’t forget to mark it on your calendar. Deferring all those one-time purchases in order to achieve your financial goal will make it seem more feasible, she adds.
Another priceless tip from Rachel? Add these no-spend days to your calendar.
“You can do this a number of ways: maybe you pick every Tuesday to be a zero spend day,” she suggests. “Or maybe you make it a game with your partner and the first one to log five zero-spend days in a month gets $20 in extra fun money (because guaranteed you’re going to save more than $20 if you do five zero-spend days every month).”
Ultimately, your checking account will appreciate it.
4. Create physical barriers between you and your spending.
Have you ever tried to run errands only to be sidetracked by a road block? Maybe a tree had falled down following a storm or there’s scheduled road work? Those types of road blocks are a literal barrier between you and your plans.
While, the same idea applies to saving and spending.
For example, whenever you leave the house, only bring cash with you so that won’t overspend. You could place your credit cards in your freezer, put an actual freeze on your account, or remove your stored info from online stores.
You can also automate your savings so that you deduct a portion of your paycheck to a savings account before you have the chance to spend it. Another trick. Purchase a CD for important and large expenses like taxes. For instance, if your property taxes are due in 6-months, invest in a 6-month CD so that you won’t touch this money — you’ll also earn interest as well.
5. Adopt the “What I Need Lifestyle.”
It can be tricky to tell the difference between wants and needs. A general rule of thumb is that if there’s something that’s essential to your survival, then it’s a need. However, if you wish to acquire something for your enjoyment or enjoyment of it, that is a want.
It is, therefore, crucial to adopt a what I need lifestyle in order to achieve the ‘save more, spend less’ goal.
To differentiate between the two, grab a piece of paper and list wants and needs in two columns. You can then place items you want to purchase in the two columns whenever you feel like it. With practice, you’ll find out whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on specific items.
6. Put visual reminders of your financial goals.
Considering a big purchase, like a vacation, car down payment, or paying off your credit card debt? “Place a visual reminder in places you look at a lot,” suggests Patty Lamberti over at Money Under 30.
Make your mobile phone’s background photo resemble a picture of the next ideal vacation destination you plan on visiting is one her recommendations. Or, wrap your debit card in a picture of the next ideal vacation destination you would like to visit.
Are you an excessive online shopper? If you want to wipe out all of your credit card debt, change your computer screen background to a big fat zero, she adds.
“This helps take the emotional excitement out of buying and makes it a deliberative, cognitive process,” Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D, an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at San Francisco State University and co-founder of Beyond the Purchase, told Patty.
7. Have a solid keystone habit.
“There are certain habits that make things way easier, these habits are more important than others, these habits are called keystone habits,” explains financial planner Owen Winkelmolen. “Keystone habits create a foundation from which you can make even bigger and more positive changes. Mastering the right keystone habit can transform your life.”
In addition to building a solid foundation, keystone habits will enable you to make even more positive changes in your life, he adds. Moreover, once keystone habits are established, they are much easier to maintain.
According to Owen, these are the 4-most important keystone habits in personal finance;
- Budgeting. As you assess your needs/wants and plan your spending, budgeting is an important keystone habit. Once you’ve mastered budgeting, you’ll suddenly be able to make more balanced, values-driven decisions.
- Tracking your spending. The habit of tracking your spending provides clarity and peace of mind. Good habits are reinforced, while bad spending habits are revealed.
- Paying yourself first. You should save 10 to 20% of your net income at the very least (paying off debt counts as saving as long as you’re not adding more each month). If you save 10-20% of your income, you will be able to meet your other financial goals. If you don’t save regularly, it’s difficult to become financially stable, says Owen.
- Investing. A well-designed investment plan and regular review of it will help you maximize your investments. It can can help you stay the course during a bear market and prevent you from getting sucked into the irrational exuberance of a bull market, Owen concludes.
8. Don’t be a follower.
Over the holidays several of my friends got smart watches. I know that they’ve been around for years. But, I’m not gonna lie. I got a little peanut butter and jelly about all the awesome features.
Suffice to say, I was tempted to get myself a shiny, new smartwatch. But, after some internal deliberation, I decided it’s just not worth it. Of course, this could change if I fall into a surplus of money. But, right now, it’s not a necessity.
While it’s no easy feat, stop following trends, unsubscribe from temping email newsletter, and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Just focus on what your financial priorities are and neglect the rest.
But, what if you can’t resist the temptation? Be patient.
While the exact time frame varies, this could be anywhere from 24-hours to 30-days, give yourself some time between your impulse purchase and the moment you make the purchase. You may realize that it’s not worth spending the money after letting it marinate for a bit.
In the meantime, if you need a dopamine-boost, brainstorm alternatives. For example, the other day it was a stunning 65-day degree day outside. So, I took a break from work and took my dog for a leisurely walk. Not only was this rewarding and put me in a better mood, it distracted me from making any spontaneous purchases.
9. The 3 R’s.
Do you remember the three Rs? If not, they are reduce, reuse, and recycle. There are a few basic rules that we can follow to limit the amount of waste we produce. But, we can also apply them to saving and spending.
- Reduce. One idea is to purchase more durable items as opposed to junk that we constantly have to replace. Not only is this easy on your wallet, it’s good for the environment as well.
- Reuse. Instead of throwing away old or damaged items, try to repurpose them. For example, if you have old jars, you can use them to store change, screws, or for pickling food items like jalepano peppers.
- Recycle. There’s more to recycling than placing cardboard and plastic in a blune bin. You can take scrap metal or cans to a scrapyard and make a couple of bucks. Do you have old ink cartridges or car batteries? You might be able to return these items to stores in exchange for credit or gift cards.
10. Pay down your debt.
In order to save more, you first have to eliminate your debt as much as possible. In the case of a debt consolidation,transferring your credit card with a 17% interest rate to one with an introductory 0% APR can be quite beneficial. And, talk to your lenders to find the best deal for you.
By keeping the debt value at zero, you can balance your credit score. Also, paying your bills on time will qualify you for loans and other benefits if you are a good customer. Alternatively, you can repay your debt and start afresh by taking out a personal loan with a low interest rate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Spending Less and Saving More
1. When should I start saving money?
The short answer? ASAP.
No matter how much you put away, it’s a good idea to set money aside now instead of putting it off. To get started with saving, build an emergency fund. When an emergency happens, you’ll have the money to cover the expense without putting it on your credit card.
2. How much money should I have saved?
Ideally, as much as you can spare.
As a starting point, and if you can, save at least 10% of your income. As a rule of thumb, this translates into saving at least three months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund.
Budgeting and tracking your spending are the best strategies for saving money. You shouldn’t stress over your first month’s budget when you’re just starting out. Even though your past purchases may seem overwhelming, looking at them will help you identify areas for saving.
3. Where should I save my money?
Well, that depends. But, you typically want to consider the following factors;
- Interest rate. The interest rate or investment return of certain accounts may be higher than those of others. They may also differ depending on the broker or bank. I personally use Chime as they offer a higher interest rate than most.
- Withdrawal access. In some accounts – such as CDs and retirement accounts – the owner of the account pays a penalty fee if the money is withdrawn before a certain date. If you think you’ll need your liquid cash within the next few months, you’ll want to make sure your choice of account caters to that need.
- What is the length of your goal? Calculate how much you will need to save to reach your financial goals. Investing, rather then saving, may be the better option if it will take several years.
4. Is there such a thing as good debt?
Basically, debt is a sum of money that is owed. A good money management strategy balances saving and borrowing. Having said that, you shouldn’t avoid borrowing at all costs.
If you owe money, but can comfortably make payments and do not borrow more than you can afford, that is good debt. Borrowing beyond your means can lead to bad debt, where you cannot make payments on time or fall behind. In turn, this can affect your credit score.
5. What does investing mean?
The act of investing involves putting money into a venture, such as a company, a commodity, or even real estate, so that it can grow. With a retirement account, investing is the easiest way to get started, but there are many investment options. And, despite the myth, it’s not as expensive as people think to start investing.
[ Read: Ways to get Free Money]