Do you always seem to be strapped for cash? Even if you don’t indulge in spending sprees and are a bargain hunter by nature, there may be some spending leaks in your budget. Putting together a monthly budget can be challenging — we know, it’s probably low on the priority list. But, once you have a plan in place, adopting some simple spending habits will keep you on a healthy financial track.
Here are five spending habits that can save you more money:
1: Pay with cash. Every time. Whether you need to leave your credit cards at home or cut them up and throw them away, nix the credit card habit so that you only buy things with cash you have. Learning to manage your money without relying on credit cards is not only good for your financial health but can also help you save money because you will be more mindful about the dollars you spend. Just try it for a week. Carrying dollar bills around and taking the step to count out your cash for purchases will increase your awareness of the money being spent — and could make you more conscientious about those purchases. If you don’t feel comfortable keeping cash on hand, a prepaid debit card is another option. This way, you can load your card with only the cash you can afford to spend.
2: Spend on savings. Paying yourself first is always a good idea and if you’re trying to save more money for an upcoming vacation or a larger purchase, start ‘spending’ on larger savings contributions. We’ve talked about the importance of creating a savings column as an expense in our budgeting series. Making a sincere effort to spend more on savings can help you build up your savings account that much faster, and will get you in the habit of saving in no time.
3: Don’t shop on a bad day. If you tend to splurge when you’re anxious, stressed or having a bad day, resist the urge to go out and buy something. Even though it might be a few dollars spent on something that will cheer you up, you’ll be spending money to feed a habit that may get worse over time. Deal with the bad day without spending away your cares and save your hard-earned money for more important matters. Like the motorcycle fund. Or that dream vacation to Tahiti.
4: Comparison shop for 48 hours. When you’re in the market for a new television, smartphone, or other big-ticket items and are tempted by offers from your favorite retailer, give yourself 48 hours to shop around for the best deal. Zeroing in on just that item and exploring auction sites, local classifieds, and current sales can ward off a costly impulse buy. Take the time to shop around so that you are getting the best deal on the market. And, keep your eyes peeled for free shipping offers, rebates and cash back deals to save even more on the total cost of your purchase.
5: Plan your purchases. Yes, it sounds tedious and boring, but taking some time to list your purchases could make you re-think how much you actually need to buy. Whether you’re shopping for groceries or heading out on a clothing roundup, create a list of items you want to buy and estimate the cost before you head out the door. An app like Shopper, for example, helps you find recipes, create grocery lists, estimate costs, find coupons and more! Planning most of your purchases can curb overspending. It can also give you a chance to comparison shop and pare down the list with ease.
What are some of your favorite savings strategies? Let us know in the comments below!