The key to reducing your spending is to cut back a little in every area. Start with simplifying your life. We fool ourselves by never thinking about the total annual costs of the things we spend our hard-earned money on. Spending $100 for cell phone service may not seem like much on a monthly basis, but that’s $1200 in one year!
I want you to rethink your values, particularly those related to money. Focus on what you’ve determined is really important in your life and the lives of your family members. We get so caught up in our lifestyles that we fail to realize we’re spending a great deal of our money on things that don’t even fit into our value system.
This Instructable gives you 18 tips for simplification that might work for you. Perhaps they’ll help you think of other ways that you can cut back financially, slow down, and enjoy the things that really matter. These tips will help you get started on a life-long journey of frugality.
STEP 1: STOP UNNECESSARY SHOPPING.
I’m not talking about purposeful shopping for necessary items. I mean strolling through the mall, window shopping, or surfing online stores with nothing particular in mind, simply looking for great bargains and things that happen to strike your fancy. This kind of “shopping’ is a very dangerous thing to do.
I’m not suggesting that you never buy anything again, but that your spending should become a planned act, purchasing the goods and services you need, not spur-of-the-moment, impulsive spending.
STEP 2: PAY WITH CASH ONLY.
Retailers are well aware of the statistics that prove that you will spend at least 30 percent more if you are in a store with a credit card, debit card, or checkbook than you would with “cold hard cash.” A customer who carries cash is the last thing they want to see coming. Why? Because they know how cautious and non-impulsive the cash buyer is.
STEP 3: KEEP A DAILY AND WEEKLY SPENDING RECORD.
Seeing where your money goes keeps you from lapsing into a spending coma. A spending record makes you really think about your spending habits. It will provide proof of your challenges and progress. Plus, keeping a daily and weekly spending record is the first step toward establishing a monthly budget.
First, keep a daily spending record for thirty days or one month. This is simply a written account of the money you spend during a specific day. Writing it down is the only way to find out where all of your money is going. Each time you spend cash, write a check, use your credit card, or use your debit card–write it down.
Accumulate seven days of spending records for one week. Accumulate four weeks of spending records for one month. Then you’ll be able to create your monthly budget based on what you’ve spent over the last month.
Print Daily Spending Record
Print Weekly Spending Record
STEP 4: KEEP YOUR CAR TIRES FILLED.
Check your car tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated, holding the exact amount of air pressure as recommended in your owner’s manual. In this particular manual, the recommended tire pressure is 35 PSI.
Keeping your tires properly inflated should increase your gas mileage by up to 10 percent.
STEP 5: GROCERY SHOP WITH A LIST.
A grocery shopping list is your game plan. The food industry spends billions of dollars a year to weaken your resistance to spend more money with fancy packaging and compelling displays. Create your list according to the layout of your grocery store, only buying those items that you need.
Remember Step 1: Staying out of the store unless absolutely necessary will decrease your exposure time and your temptation.
STEP 6: BE BRAND FLEXIBLE.
Staying loyal to a specific brand might cost you a lot of money in the long run. If you’re willing to go with what’s on sale, the store’s brand, or the brand for which you have a coupon, you’re likely to keep more of your money in your wallet.
An 18-oz. jar of Jif brand peanut butter at Walmart costs $2.98. The same size jar of Great Value brand at Walmart costs $2.56. That’s a difference of 42 cents! Imagine how much you could save if you switched all of your name brand products with the store brand.
STEP 7: USE SALE ADS.
Plan your meals and shopping list around what’s on sale this week. Collect the sale ads that come in the mail and in the weekly newspaper.
STEP 8: PLAN MEALS CAREFULLY AT YOUR FAVORITE GROCERY STORE.
1. You choose your meal plan according to your eating style, family size, and grocery store.
2. Each week you’ll receive your meal plan, complete with seven dinner recipes and shopping list–directly to your email inbox.
3. Take your shopping list that’s coordinated with the weekly sales at your favorite grocery store and enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals at a bargain.
STEP 9: USE COUPONS.
Use coupons only for items you’d buy if you didn’t have the coupon. Always buy the smallest qualifying size when using a coupon.
STEP 10: EAT LUNCH AND BREAKFAST FOR DINNER.
Instead of cooking the typical meat and potatoes for dinner, try having “breakfast” for the evening meal instead. Fry eggs, and pancakes can be a delicious, time saving twist to the end of a long day.
STEP 11: FIND A FREE BANK ACCOUNT.
It may take some searching, but there are many banks and credit unions that offer free accounts with a minimum balance.
STEP 12: PAY YOUR BILLS ONLINE.
Paying your bills online through your bank’s or an independent bill paying site will save you a lot of time and money. You won’t have to pay postage and you’ll have an electronic record of your banking activity.
STEP 13: USE ONLY NO-FEE ATMS.
Use only automatic teller machines (ATMs) that are networked into your bank’s system and for which you will not be charged a transaction fee.
STEP 14: WASH YOUR CLOTHES IN COLD WATER.
If you’re like most families, the bulk of your laundry is only lightly soiled. Modern-day detergents clean clothes just as well in cold water as in warm or hot. Your colors will last longer too!
STEP 15: DO A MOVIE SWITCH.
Instead of going out to a movie and dinner, go to a bargain-priced matinee and dessert after.
You can even cut entertainment cost by renting a DVD.
STEP 16: ESCAPE TO THE LIBRARY.
You’ll be amazed at what fun you and your kids can have at the library.
You can borrow DVDs, CDs, audio books, and of course–exciting books!
Some libraries even have story time, arts and crafts, and documentary film showings.
STEP 17: GO FOR A WALK AND EXERCISE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
If you’ve never explored your neighborhood, take the time to find out what you’ve been missing.
Instead of paying for a gym membership, go for walks around your neighborhood for exercise.
STEP 18: BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN CITY.
Go online and search your community or city as if you were a tourist coming for a visit. Many of the activities are free or highly discounted. Your local tourism bureau should help you find lots to do and see in your city and surrounding area.
STEP 19: THE RESULT IS THAT YOU SPEND LESS THAN YOU MAKE AND SAVE MONEY.
If you practice the steps of this Instructable, you will be a person who earns money and manages to hang onto it by spending less than you make.
You probably don’t need to eliminate one area entirely, but rather cut back a little bit in every area.
Strive to get the very best value you can and fully enjoy the things you have or make use of.