Have you ever been blindsided by your bank account? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has pulled up my monthly statement and asked myself where it all went! The answer, of course, is often right there in front of us – the third Starbucks run of the week, the $100 we didn’t really need to spend at Target, the $200 cable bill we’re still paying each month. If you’re ready to rein in your spending, here are some strategies that can help:
1. Save before you spend
You’ve probably heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” Separate your savings from your regular spending money and pretend the funds simply don’t exist. You will be less tempted to tap into them when you’re running low on cash. To make this even easier, ask your employer or bank if they can direct deposit your paycheck into multiple bank accounts. If the answer is yes, determine how much you need to pull from each check to hit your savings goals and ask them to allocate that amount into a separate account from the money you’ll use for fun, food, and bills.
2. Cut where you can
When was the last time you called your car insurance company to negotiate a better rate? If it’s been awhile since you evaluated your cable plan or agreed to the interest rate on your credit card, give your providers a call and see if you can negotiate a better deal. Some companies offer promotional rates for long-term customers to keep their business, while others may be able to cut you a deal for consistent on-time payments or positive trends like a safe driving record. Even if the answer is no, it certainly will not hurt to ask! Here are more ideas to save $100 this month.
3. Track what you spend
If you want to lose weight, tracking your food will help you hold yourself accountable by forcing you to be mindful of the things you put into your body. In the same token, tracking your spending – down to the dollar – will help you better understand where your money is going. Eating lunch out once or twice a week many not seem like a splurge, but if you’re forced to write it down and add it up at the end of the week, it will be easier to acknowledge that the money may be better spent elsewhere. Whether you prefer to document your purchases on paper, through an app, or some other way, your budget will benefit from this practice.
4. Try a no-spend challenge
If you’re really determined to cut back on your spending habits, a no-spend challenge can be a great way to start. Try to go a day, a week, or even a month without spending a cent. Longer durations may require some advanced planning and preparation, but if you can commit, you’ll come out on the other side with a fuller bank account, a stronger willpower muscle, and a better understanding of what you really need to spend money on. You can read about the one month no spend challenge my family did a few years ago. We pocketed over $750 that month!
5. Implement a cash-only spending system
With so many digital payment methods, it’s far too easy to swipe, tap, and text our money away. By forcing yourself to ditch the convenience and making your everyday purchases with cash, it will be easier to watch how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. You could even consider an envelope, cash-only budget system to keep spending in check.
What strategies have you used to spend less money?