32 Tips to help control your spending is a compilation of ideas from all over the web. A few of them may be somewhat attributable to my own experience. The tips are in no particular order, but they all have merit in their ability to help you to control your spending.
- Create a Budget and Stick to It
- Track Your Expenses
- Use Only Cash
- Use the Envelop System
- Set Short Term Savings Goals
- Ask Yourself, “Will this Purchase Get Me Closer to My Goal?”
- Use the 24 Hour Rule for Purchases
- Take Your Lunch to Work
- Never Shop for Groceries When You are Hungry
- Create No Spend Days
- Shop From a List
- Buy Used
- Remove Credit Card Details from all Online Accounts
- Give Yourself an Allowance
- Use/Giveaway/Sell an Item Before Purchasing a Replacement
- Give up a Costly Habit
- Brew Your Own Beer or Wine
- Look Carefully at the Total Lifetime Cost of a Purchase
- Use Discount Codes and Coupons
- Ask for a Discount
- Use Libre Office and Other Free Computer Software
- Unsubscribe from Email Newsletters and Catalogs
- Cancel Subscriptions You Are Not Using
- Ride Share/Walk/Cycle/Use Public Transportation
- Hold Regular Money Meetings with Your Family
- Take a Thermos of Coffee to Work
- Pay Your Bills on Payday
- Do It Yourself
- Give up Social Media
- Switch to Filtered Water
- Buy Generic Products
- Participate in Free Activities
If you don’t know what you want to be spending, how will you know if a purchase fits your plan? A budget should not be created to deprive you, but rather to enable you to get to the lifestyle you truly want. If you didn’t budget for a purchase, think long and hard before you make it. For more info on creating a budget that works for you, see my article.
In tandem with a budget, you need to track everything you spend to ensure that you budgeted for it. Sometimes unexpected expenses arise, and we have no choice but to spend unplanned dollars. A sudden medical emergency can be devastating to your budget, if you don’t have the money in your plans. Use our free spending tracker.
This is a great way of controlling what you spend. Leave your credit cards at home. If you don’t have the cash in your pocket, you can’t spend it.
Th3 envelop system is an interesting way to implement your budget and thus control your spending. At the beginning of each pay cycle, place the budgeted amount for each expenditure category in a separate envelop. When you make a purchase or pay a bill in that category, take the money from the envelop. If the envelop is empty, don’t make any more expenditures from that category.
Set an achievable goal such as saving $100 this month. Use your budget to decide where to make the necessary savings. Track every penny that you save toward this goal. Reward yourself with a small pleasure when you reach your goal!
This helps reduce rash purchases. Especially, if you remember to ask yourself, “If I don’t make this expenditure, will this help me reach or get closer to my goal?” Ask this question of yourself every time you consider an unplanned expenditure.
Don’t make unplanned purchases spontaneously. Force yourself to defer the expenditure for at least 24 hours. Reconsider carefully. Do I really need to make this expenditure? Am I just suffering from the “shiny object” syndrome?
For most of my working career, eating lunch at home was not an option. Many of the folks I worked with would pop out to a restaurant or pick something up at a fast food place. I brought my lunch in bag. Once microwaves were common in the workplace, I was able to enjoy a hot lunch from time to time. A lunch from home can be cheaper and more nutritious than a purchased one. This saving can really add up over the course of the month.
It seems like a no brainer to stop and pick up your groceries on the way home from work. Who would believe that it can be such a budget killer. Studies have shown that hungry people spend up to 60% more than people who return after supper to do their shopping.
Or even no spend weeks. During the selected period, you buy nothing. This takes a little planning to ensure that necessary bills are paid, supplies laid in e.g. gas the car up before or after the no spend period.
Cruising the aisles, checking the shelves for things that you may need is an invitation to overspend. This is as bad or worse than shopping while hungry. Without a list, I tend to fill my basket with luxuries that I don’t really need. If it’s not on the list, don’t pick it up.
A new car loses about 30% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. In the first three years of ownership of a new car, you lose about 40 – 50% of the purchase price. Wait until the first owner sustains the lose in value. Then buy a three year old car that is high in value but much lower in price.
Many appliances have a long lifespan, but are frequently replace with ones that have newer colours or shapes. Pick up the hardly used one for pennies on the dollar at a thrift store. I recently left my Keurig behind at a place I volunteered. Covid has closed access to the location for now. A newer, nicer model of Keurig was obtained for $20 at a thrift shop. Helping both me and the cause the shop supports.
I needed a single slide for a drawer – one wheel had cracked and fallen off. I picked it up for a buck a the Restore, thus supporting Habitat for Humanity, and saving myself $8.
New and almost new clothing, etc. can be picked up at these thrift shops. Lightly used sports equipment can be a great money saver. A good deal for you, while supporting a worthwhile cause.
By removing the credit card details from online accounts, you remove the temptation to click and buy without thinking. If you require yourself to go and get the credit card and enter the details before you buy, it will give you a chance to review whether you need this purchase, or it’s just a passing whim.
Everyone, adults and children alike, need a few bucks that are solely theirs to do with as they wish. A specified allowance gives you the sole control, responsibility and consequences for spending this money. You get to decide whether you would rather have a latte every day this week, or to buy that magazine subscription. If you spend your allowance on frivolities on Monday, then you will need to suffer the consequences for the rest of the week. Never allow advances on allowances as both adults and children find it difficult, if not impossible to repay them.
If the old item still does the job for you, why are you even considering buying a new one. If the old item is still good, but does not fulfill the functions you require, then consider giving it away or sell it. Giving away will help someone who doesn’t have the item. Selling it will bring in some extra cash.
Sometimes, an item has only a limited number of uses before it wears out or fails. Make sure that you use it up completely before putting a new one into service. This includes using up the last of the toothpaste, shampoo, etc. before starting a new one.
For some of us, this is a toughy. I always had the latest and greatest in technology. One day I decided to take a look at just how much I was spending on computers, phones, etc. Was I getting good value for my money. I quickly r4ealized that other than bragging rights, these new devices generally provided little if any real new and important functionality to me.
Do you buy a new car every year? Do you buy a new wardrobe for every season? Are you paying for a gym or club membership that you seldom use? Where could you put this money to better use? I use my savings for great vacations!
When I was first starting out in married life, a case of beer was a luxury that I couldn’t justify. With a few relatively inexpensive purchases, I was able to set up my own home brewery. My beer was every bit as good as purchased beer, and the savings were substantial.
Although brewing beer or wine does require strict sanitization measures, they are fairly simple to follow.
Now, you can go to a brew-it-yourself place and be almost guaranteed of perfect brews. You might not save as much as doing the whole thing yourself, but it can be quicker and just as satisfying. You should be able to save a nice buck, and still be able to enjoy a cold one while your watch the game.
Some things cost more because they have a fancy logo on them. Other things cost more because they are built better.
To calculate the lifetime cost of an item, divide the cost plus and required repairs and updates by the expected lifetime. Do this to each of your choices, and you can compare the lifetime cost to determine which is the better buy.
Before you buy, compare the life expectancy of a cheap item to the more expensive one. Generally, the less expensive one will last about as well as the higher priced one, but not always. An example that comes to mind is a battery operated drill. I have bought several inexpensive ones and although they have performed well, when it was time to replace the battery, no luck finding one. For a few bucks more, I could have purchased a higher end drill with a history of easy battery availability. Life time cost of the cheap one, $50 for two or three years. Life time cost of the higher end drill, $90 for the drill, and $25 every five years for replacement batteries, and it’s still going strong after 15 years. And the bonus is that the more expensive one drills more quickly and there is less waste in the landfill.
If you would seldom use a battery drill, or are like me, in your declining years, cheap tools might suffice. I know that if I need a new one now, inexpensive is the choice, because the lifetime use of the tool will be small to non-existant.
Some things like screwdrivers can be purchased at the dollar store and similar places very inexpensively. If you plan on using a screwdriver more than once, or the job is a little tougher, a cheap screwdriver can turn out to be very expensive, as it will need to be replaced frequently. I have quality screwdrivers that I have used for over 50 years.
You can be cheap work clothes, and if your clothing is subject to frequent damage – rips, stains, etc – then they can be a good value. On the other hand, if your clothes need to be replaced because they have lost their shape, colours have faded and closures have failed long before you would otherwise have replaced them, you might want to consider higher quality clothing. Calculate the number of uses you will get from a piece of clothing before it needs to be discarded and divide that into the price. The lifetime value can be a great way to make decisions.
A suit that wears like iron, but quickly goes out of style is probably not a great purchase. A designer outfit that you will wear only once or twice is likewise a poor choice. On the other hand, a low cost outfit that immediately makes you look like you belong at the food bank, may also be very expensive over its short lifetime.
Choose carefully, and calculate that lifetime value.
If you’ve got them, use them. It’s amazing how much money you can save using discount codes and coupons for things you buy regularly. Just be careful not to buy something you don’t use or need just because you have a code or coupon.
Don’t afraid to ask. You won’t always score a discount, but you will often enough to make it worthwhile.
Unless you can write off the expense as part of your business, you should not waste the money on Microsoft Office and similar software. Libre Office is free and will open Office files and save in Office format. And did I mention that it’s free.
Although I would be considered very knowledgeable about computers, before I buy any software, antivirus included, I check the web to see if there is a comparable free alternative. I have seldom been disappointed. Unless you are a professional artist or photographer, there is probably free software that will do exactly what you need.
Don’t buy if you can do the job with free software.
Email newsletters and catalogs are meant to sell you something, probably that you would not have bought otherwise. Remove the temptation by unsubscribing.
I find it difficult to give up a magazine that I have been receiving forever, but if I am no longer reading it, why waste the money. Gym, golf and club memberships that you are no longer using well, can be a source of savings. If you only visit a gym infrequently, paying the guest price each time can generally save you money.
Are you, like I was, paying a couple of thousand dollars a year to store items that are no longer used but too good to throw away? If you are realistically never going to use them again, sell them or give them to a charity.
What else are you paying for every month that you are not getting value for money spent?
Depending on where you live and what you do, running a vehicle can be very expensive. If, you are a sales person who drives many miles each day to visit clients, or alternate means of getting to your place of employment are absent, you probably have no choice. For the rest of us, driving is an expensive luxury, especially in places with high parking fees.
Even Dagwood Bumstead ride shares with his neighbours. You can cut your costs by up to 75% by ridesharing.
If you live within a couple of miles of your place of employment, and there is a safe walking route, you may be able to save by walking even a couple of days a week.
If your city has a well-developed public transportation system, this can be a great way to get around. I know in some cities that we have visited, subways, trolleys and buses have proved economical and frequently faster transportation than by car.
Everyone has a stake in the family financial success or failure, so talk with them. Share family successes and failures. Plan how to do better next month.
Every family member should know how family finances affect them and how they can help. That doesn’t mean that you need to share knowledge of your income with your 10 year old. They just need to know where there have been spending/saving successes and failures, and what they can do to help.
Review the budget and make sure that everyone understands the import and impact of each line item. Why can’t individual family members have exactly what they want, when they want it?
Make sure that everyone is still onboard and supportive of your money management plan!
If your place of employment has a coffee pot for staff, use it. If not fill a thermos at home and drink from it instead of paying coffee shop prices. Put your savings into a container each evening, and watch it fill.
Don’t wait until bills are due! If you pay your bills as soon as you get paid, you will not be tempted to spend the money on something else before you pay your bills.
If you are even a little bit handy, you can save money by doing repairs around your house or car yourself. Don’t take on jobs that you are not sure that you can handle. Making bread, growing vegetables, and raising chickens (where permitted) can all help to cut your grocery bills. Cleaning your own eaves can save money now and for unneeded maintenance later.
Social media is one of the largest sources of peer pressure. The temptation to buy stuff to show on social media is immense. Use the time you save to improve your life. Invest time in your own education.
Bottled water is a scourge on the environment. It is also one of the most expensive ways to enjoy water. Bottled water can be a lifesaver in some situations, but for the rest of the time it is merely a money wasting convenience. Get a reusable water bottle and fill it with filtered water, even if you need to purchase it.
We have a two cartridge filter system that provides clean, filtered water to our fridge. Great tasting water and ice cubes.
Frequently, generic products are identical to the original, but are much cheaper because there are no advertising fees to be paid. We use generic drugs, shampoo, soap, packaged food, etc. and seldom notice any difference, except of course for the savings.
Take a look around your community for free activities for you and your family. You will be amazed by the quality of some of these activities and experiences.
Even if you implement only a few of these savings ideas, you have the potential to put extra money in your pocket. If you set a goal for the use of your savings, it will help you to be more successful.
Do you know any more good tips? Please add them in the comments below. Thanks.
As always, I am not a qualified financial advisor. I just relate financial management to my own experience which may not resemble yours at all. Advice is frequently worth exactly what you paid for it. Most of mine came from expensive experiences.