5 hacks that help you save money.
Where does the money go? After we get our paychecks, it doesn’t take too long before it just seems to vaporize. Sure, we have to pay the bills and buy groceries. But it just feels like we ought to be able to hold onto a little more of our money each month.
None of us likes to be told that we just need to change the way we are doing things. But we all like to find little hacks that help us navigate life and overcome those things that irritate us. That’s why we’ve put together 5 inventive ideas to help you save a little more each month.
The needs vs. wants lists
Sometimes just writing things down helps us understand how we think about all the ways we spend our money. So look through your spending over the last month. Since most of us use a card to pay for things, it’s fairly easy to log into our bank account and see a list of all the things we spent money on. Now, categorize each item as either a need or want. Some expenses are going to be obvious needs - like paying the electric bill. But some will fall in a gray area. For example, you could say that you need a certain wardrobe for your work, therefore that jacket you bought was a need and not a want. But was it really? Could you have gone the whole month with what was already in your closet? Going through this exercise helps us understand how we think about our spending. And may even help us rethink a purchase in the future if we understand that it’s really a want and not a need.
Set designated shopping days
Here’s another shopping hack. Designate certain days during the month as shopping days for your wants. You still buy the necessities like groceries every week (your needs), but you could limit the days you allow yourself to spend on your wants - maybe it’s just twice a month. This has a couple of benefits. For one, it could help reduce impulse buys on those days you have not designated as a shopping day. And two, it could give you time to evaluate a purchase. Let’s say you see something you want, but your designated shopping day is still a few days away. Those few days give you time to think about that purchase. You could find yourself deciding that that thing you just had to have really isn’t all that great.
Pay yourself to save
This is a really easy and rewarding way to boost savings. Decide to pay yourself 20% of any extra amount you save during the month. For example, if you save an extra $100 next month, take $20 out of it (20% of $100) as a payment to yourself for saving. You can do whatever you want with the $20. Spend it on something totally frivolous. Our put it away in a separate account for a few months to fund a bigger splurge. You’ll be giving yourself a great little reward for boosting your savings each month.
Use cash to thwart problem spending
It’s not unusual for all of us to have certain categories where we overspend. A common one is going out with friends. We tell ourselves we won’t go over a certain amount, but it’s just too easy to pull out that card one too many times. Here’s a great hack. Identify the areas where you have trouble with overspending. Then, only use cash for those situations. If you’re going out with friends, withdraw the amount of cash that you want to limit yourself to. Studies show that we hesitate more when it comes to handing over our cash as opposed to our card. Plus, when we use cash, we can physically see how much we have left.
The not-spending game
Make not spending a game. Look at what you spent on eating out last month. Or look at what you spent at the grocery store. Could you cut it by a quarter? A third? Half? This is all about getting creative and seeing what you can do. It also can work better if you have a partner in the game (like a spouse) so you can encourage each other. You might even combine this hack with hack number 3 (pay yourself to save). When it becomes a game, it doesn’t feel like we are denying ourselves anything.
Saving doesn’t have to be all about what you can’t have and can’t do. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get us thinking differently about our spending. Give these hacks a try and see how they work for you. Craving more saving hacks? Check out our other savings ideas 12 Hacks for How to Save Your First $1,000 and Still Have Fun. And if you have others that have worked for you, share them with a tweet using the hashtag #HackToSave.