Money’s tight. The economy’s weird. They’re putting Cheez-Its in tacos now? We have a lot to cover. Sometimes the paycheck just is not cutting it and you need a few creative ideas for ways to cut down on your spending. Well, lucky for you. Just Read.
1. Tracking Your Spendings
First idea for cutting down on spending is tracking your spending. Because be honest with me. Do you even have any idea how much you’re spending right now? Like, you know you need to spend less but… Saving money all starts with awareness. We have to know where our dollars are going before we can know how to cut our spending.
So whenever you buy anything, whenever you spend money, take a moment to record that purchase. You’ll be forced to see how much you’re really spending, where your money’s going, and how many times you’ve frequented the same place. There’s something about buying with credit cards or even debit cards or buying things online that just makes money seem invisible, like not real. Recording your purchases makes your spending real. I really did that.
2. Shop Around
Tip number two is just shop around. Set aside a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of strawberries and apples. And just question everything. Log into your bank account. Look at your transaction history. Look at all the people you pay, all the services you pay for, and ask. Is there a cheaper version of this somewhere else?
For example, could you get cheaper car insurance or home insurance from someone else? Lawn care, pool maintenance, personal care, gym membership. Is there a cheaper cell phone plan or cable plan? Or do you need cable or a cheaper internet plan? Or do you need internet? Oh gosh. And actually even better. Are there any expenses you can eliminate altogether?
Listen, this is 2022. You have Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Disney+. Why? That’s so many shows. Do you have that much time? I’m gonna guess not. Not to mention that subscription services hate when you cancel and they will give you discounts to come back. So maybe you cancel Netflix, Disney+, and HBO and you just soak up Hulu for a while.
Disney+ just sent you a really good offer to come back so you cancel Hulu and then you get your fill on Disney+ for the next few months. Are we milking the system? Yes. Also, consider trialing downgrades. Maybe try out a slower internet plan for a few months. Downgrade your cell phone plan to something simpler. Things to think about.
3. Eliminate Impulse Purchases
Idea number three, eliminate impulse purchases. Minimize temptation. We have so much. Unfollow social media accounts that always make you wanna buy what they’re pitching you. Unsubscribe from your favorite retailers. If you don’t wanna be spending money, you don’t need to know about the sales because sales still mean spending money and you don’t wanna be spending money right now. Am I right? That’s why we’re here, right? Or put something in your cart.
Let it sit there for 24 to 72 hours. And if you still feel like you need it after all that time, you can purchase it. I guess. Maybe some time to think about it or live your life without it will make you change your mind. Hint, anything you don’t buy now you can literally always buy later. So some questions to ask you to help you eliminate your impulse spending.
Wait, do I really need this item right now? Or could I wait a little bit to see if I still really need it later on down the road? Could I find this cheaper somewhere else? Or, hm, what else could I do with this money?
4. Plan “No Spend” Days
Idea number four, plan no spend days. Shopping is so easy these days. Amazon can drop something on your doorstep the next day. The same day. Targeted ads on social media platforms like Instagram literally appear into your soul and exploit your weaknesses. Not literally, but feels like it. Try making a commitment to have two or three days a week where you just don’t spend.
No matter what happens, we don’t spend. Like maybe Sundays and Wednesdays. We don’t spend. We just don’t do it. Only spending money on certain days of the week will give us so much better awareness of our overall spending, which can help us reorganize our priorities or reduce our emotional spending. ‘Cause, we have it. We do.
5. Keep The Change
Number five, keep the change. Let’s do a little elementary math problem. Johnny has a jar. On day one, Johnny puts one nickel in the jar. Every day he increases the number of nickels he puts in the jar by one. So day two, two nickels in the jar. Day three, three nickels in the jar.
But how much money would Johnny have saved by the end of the week? Well, only a dollar 40. That’s fine, Johnny. But if Johnny continued this pattern every single day for 365 days, how much money does Johnny have now? A little Johnny has $3,339.75. First of all, that’s a big jar. Secondly, dang Johnny.
And you know how much Johnny was putting in his jar on day 365? $18.25. That like doesn’t sound awful. So be like Johnny. Pick up some of those coin wrappers and throw all your change in them. Even get a jar and toss all your spare $1 and $5 bills in it. These amounts of money are so small that you’re unlikely to really miss them but they add up over time.
6. Use What You Have
Number six, use what you have. Are you the kind of person that’s always eager to try new makeup or skincare, but you literally can’t remember the last time you actually finished a tube or a bottle of anything? I kind of feel like we all do this with something in our lives.
I mean, maybe you just keep buying vegetables at the grocery store and you literally throw them away every week because you don’t eat them. Maybe you’re buying new cleaning products or new candles before you’ve finished up the ones you actually have. You can decrease waste and increase your savings by always promising yourself to finish everything you have before you’re buying something new. It sounds simple.
Actually, it is simple. So try it. Also if you’re the kind of person who just kind of hoards gift cards but never actually uses them, now’s your time, my friend. It’s time to call that number on the back of the card, see how much you have left, and spend those cards dry.
For some reason, we feel like gift card money isn’t real money so it’s no big deal if we give up on it when there are $2.43 cents left on it. I mean, I’ve never done that. But that is wasted money. Use that money. If it doesn’t seem like a valuable amount that’s left on the gift card, just think of it as a coupon. Yeah, I’m gonna get $1.75 off my next purchase. Mm, it’s not a bad deal.
7. Just Ask
Number seven, just ask. This is my favorite one because we don’t do it anymore. The forgotten art of, hey, can I borrow a tablespoon of agave nectar so that I don’t go to the store and buy a $7 bottle that’s gonna expire before I ever use it again?
Story time. One time I dressed up as some “Space Jam” character for Halloween. It wasn’t even a character from the movie. It was just like the theme was “Space Jam.” And I bought a basketball from Walmart for my outfit ’cause it was only $5 and I was like, wow, this is only $5. But when my brother was trying to figure out what the heck my costume was, he was like I have two basketballs that never get used.
Why didn’t you ask to borrow one? I don’t know. This was $5. It seemed like a deal. I mean, when you think about it it was almost like I was saving money. No. Yeah, that was $5 that I just wasted. We are so used to being able to buy anything we could ever need at the drop of a hat that we forget we don’t need to own it.
If you need a box fan, ask your friend if you can borrow their box fan. If you need a four-person camping tent for the weekend, ask a friend if you can borrow their four-person camping tent for the weekend. Why are we afraid to ask? It’s fascinating. Hmm.
8. Embrace Your Community
Idea number eight, embrace your community. Have you ever explored all the free resources that are available in your area? For example, my local library has a recording studio you can use for free with just a simple reservation. You could spend a thousand dollars to rent a recording studio or library. Free. Reservations.
Speaking of libraries, some libraries let you check out things other than books like tools or kitchen equipment. You name it. Don’t forget to check out local Facebook groups or online communities as well. I’m a part of a local Facebook group called Buy Nothing. And that is literally what it is. People give and receive all kinds of items for free.
I’ve seen people get furniture, whole wardrobes for their kids, mulch, desk chairs, trampolines, and even football tickets. Now there’s an idea.
Also, let’s talk about entertainment because that can get pricey fast. But your town likely has more free activities than you realize. Concerts in the park. Open mic nights at coffee shops. Maybe there’s a free day at your local museum or nature center. Hiking is free. A game night with your old board games is free. Going downtown to watch a local parade, is also free. Free, free free.
9. Tame Your Food Costs
Tip number nine, tame your food costs. Of course, we all need to eat, but are there ways we can ensure we’re getting the very most out of our grocery dollars? Two ideas I can think of right off the bat are meal planning and sticking to a grocery list. These are both surefire ways to ensure we’re only spending money on food we are guaranteed to eat because we plan for it and we’re not throwing it out, which happens way too much.
But online grocery shopping and curbside pickup are also a huge way to make sure you’re not super duper overspending your grocery budget. It’s straightforward to put things back because you just delete them from your cart. Even if it comes with an extra fee, making sure you are only buying what you need and not being tempted by all the fun foods or snacks or sales in the store, can save you a ton of money.
10. Start a Budget
Tip number 10 for cutting spending is to start a budget. Raise your hand if you’ve been dodging budgets for the better half of your life. They sound restrictive. They sound like they’d be hard to stick to. They sound not fun. But I have literally never had more money since I started using a budget and it is positively thrilling to see how much my bank accounts have grown since using one.
And the number of things I’ve been able to do or afford that I never thought I could do or afford, like buying a house or having a wedding. I promise you I would not have any of those things without the budget. It has been my greatest tool in accomplishing the things I want and being able to afford the things I want.
YNAB is a budgeting app that encourages flexible budgeting and a healthier money mindset. It’s not about minimalism. It’s not about saying no to everything. It’s about knowing your priorities and funding those things. Shifting your budget when your plans change or just when you straight up feel like it, and removing that guilt factor from spending.
Let me tell you something. Our budget prioritizes disc golf, daycare for our dog, and getting bougie new slippers every year. Yeah, we don’t feel bad about it.
That’s all I got for today. Let me know what money-saving ideas you use down in the comments below because I am sure I have only just skimmed the surface.