Whether you are saving for a down payment on a home, putting together an emergency fund, or just trying to find extra money at the end of every month, spending less is a great way to start reaching your financial goals.
There are several different ways that you can cut back on your spending. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.
1. Save At The Grocery Store
With record inflation and rising food costs, one of the best places to save money is the grocery store. Luckily, there are several ways for you to save money here, like:
Buying Store Brand Items
Most stores have their own branded items that are similar quality to products made by name brand manufacturers. These store branded products are often significantly cheaper than their counterparts.
Buying In Bulk
If you have the space, consider shopping at stores like BJ's or Costco. Buying in bulk normally comes with a discount per item in the box. If you don't have the space, shop with friends and family to split the items so you can still save.
Joining Store Loyalty Programs
Most chain retailers have loyalty programs that are free to join and offer benefits like discounts, coupons, and exclusive rewards for members.
Another great way to save money is by clipping coupons. There are hundreds of couponing websites, online groups, and social media pages where you can find great deals.
Apps like Ibotta, Swagbucks, and Fetch Rewards can help you find sales, deals, coupons, and give you cash back just for buying groceries.
2. Cut The Cord
If you are still paying for cable, you are probably paying too much. Per US News, the average cost of a monthly cable subscription in the US is around $87 per month. Comparatively, the average monthly streaming service subscription, such as for Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, costs $20 or less per month, even for the premium packages. Eliminating your cable bill and switching to one or two streaming services can save you a lot money each month.
3. Cook At Home
It’s no secret that eating out at restaurants is significantly more expensive than cooking at home. This is especially true if you are eating out multiple times per week. Those costs will add up fast.
By cooking more meals at home and by packing your own lunches for work, you can save significant amounts of money, while also getting healthier, more nutritious food.
4. Implement A Waiting Period Before Making Large Purchases
Impulse shopping is one of biggest ways that you can lose money each month. You can help curb your impulses by implementing a mandatory waiting period before making any large purchases. This will give you time to consider if you really need an item before buying it.
The best way to do this is by setting a period of wait time and defining the monetary value of a “large purpose”. For example, “I will wait at least two days before making any purchases larger than $100.”
5. Check And Cancel Automatic Subscriptions
Most people have subscriptions that they are paying for and not using or have completely forgotten about. Whether it be an old gym membership, a free trial that you forgot to cancel, or a service that you no longer use, cancelling these old subscription payments can put that money back into your pocket every month.
Don’t know what services you’re paying for? Download your last two months of bank statements and check for similar amounts on similar dates.
6. Shop Around For Lower Payments
There are several monthly payments that, while they cannot be avoided, can potentially be reduced. Some examples of this include your mortgage payment, auto loans, car insurance, and credit card bills.
Regular loan payments such as personal loans, mortgages, and auto loans can be reduced through refinancing. Check your interest rates against other current rates in your area and see if you can refinance with a lower rate to lower your monthly payment.
If you are not regularly shopping around for your insurance, you are probably overspending here as well. Regularly shop around for shorter term insurance policies, such as your car insurance and home insurance, to see what rates competing companies will offer you for the exact same policy. You may be surprised at how much you can save.
Lastly, if you have multiple credit cards or personal loans, consider consolidating them all in to one, often lower, payment with a consolidation loan through a local bank or credit union. On top of saving you money, only having one payment is easier to manage and reduces the chance that you miss a payment.
7. Do It Yourself
Rather than spending large amounts of money on home decor items, furniture, or certain cleaners, look in to making your own instead. Websites like Pinterest are full of examples of unique DIY recipes, projects, and ideas.
8. Change Your Mindset
Stop thinking of your spending in terms of dollars, and start thinking about in terms of hours.
For example, if you make $10 per hour at your job and decide to buy an item worth $30. That item didn’t just cost $30. It cost you 3 hours of time.
9. Set Up Auto-Savings
Set up your direct deposit so that every time you get paid, a certain amount goes directly into savings. That way you never even see the money that you’re saving and your savings can grow each time you are paid. Bonus points if the account is difficult to access. If you have to jump through a few hoops, you’re less likely to access your savings.
10. Track Your Spending
The best way to save money and spend less is by tracking your spending and creating a budget. Take a hard look at where you spent your money over the last week and month. Are there any trends?
You can then categorize your spending. For example, McDonalds can be the eating out category. While your favorite sushi restaurant is also eating out. Now look at the numbers again. Are you spending too much in any one category such as eating out or clothing? If so, that will let you know where in your budget that you need to cut back.
You can budget and track your expenses with pen & paper, a spreadsheet, or a budget app like Centsible. It doesn't matter which you choose. Just make sure it works for you to maximize your chances of saving more.
By spending less money, you can free up more cash flow to help you reach your financial goals. If you can create a system where you make money a priority, track where every penny goes, and control your spending, you will be in a better financial position in no time at all.