If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m almost always trying to make my money work harder. Sometimes I have personal stories about my quest for a cheap smartphone plan and other times I have more generic tips on how to save save money. Despite all this, I’m not immune to falling into common spending traps. From shop front specials, to deals at the grocery store retailers have mastered the art of tricking our minds into wasting money. I say it is time to fight back. As G.I. Joe would say, knowing is half the battle. So let’s wage our war with a few tips to follow that will help you save you money and avoid these traps.
- Make a budget – It may sound redundant but making, and sticking to a budget you can help save yourself a huge amount of money of the course of time. Plus, didn’t you know that Budgets Are Sexy? They are. I suggest looking at some of these free budget spreadsheets and choose one that works best for you. I like to focus on the necessary, like mortgage/rent, food, and utilities. After that, I try to hide money from myself by having a set amount go into savings each month. I play a game, trying to increase that number gradually. The higher I get that, the more “points”, I score. What I have left is used for extras like entertainment.
- Review your debts – If you watch the news, you can’t seem to avoid a story about people being in debt. From high interest credit cards to loans these small expenditures can turn into big problems down the road. Pay attention to your interest rates, and pay off anything that is collecting high interest as fast as possible.
- Cut down on bills – There are tons of ways to help cut down on bill costs. Turning out lights, shutting off heaters when you head out, and taking shorter showers all help in the long run. A few dollars less on the bills may not seem like much, but over the course of the year these small reductions add up to big savings. And if you passed by previous mention, let me remind you, I have plenty of these tips to save you money.
- Track your spending – If you are like me, you can sign up for Mint and let them analyze your credit cards. If you are more of a cash person, it might be a little more work. I wouldn’t look forward to saving those receipts and reviewing them end of the month. Looking for patterns in them would drive me crazy, but too each their own.
What G.I. Joe didn’t tell you was the other half of the battle. That is taking action. I may be Lazy, but there are times when lazy simply doesn’t pay. I hope these tips help you control your spending. By experimenting and research some spending strategies you can save yourself more money than you realize with very little inconvenience.
Sell your unused stuff, and buy the stuff you need used. Our recent move forced us to sell a washer, dryer, lawn mower, and weed trimmer: income from these was $300. We used the proceeds to buy some bedroom furniture (we left the less than desirable furniture behind at our last residence): expense for these was $200. A net gain of $100 while getting rid of stuff we didn’t want and replacing it with stuff we needed.
I think the two most important tips you mentioned in this post are about having a budget and then tracking your spending to ensure you stick to your budget.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when you are out doing the food shop for example. I will always make a list (based on the idea that if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail) and then armed with my list I pop on my invisible blinkers and ignore all the special offers in the supermarket – allowing myself one treat per week.
I will then look at the receipt and compare with my list to ensure I haven’t strayed from the list – making a mental note if I have and where I went wrong (to avoid next time or just to let myself off if I had genuinely forgotten to add something to the list.
This might sound over the top but it is incredible how much money you can save over the course of the year, leaving me with spare cash to do things like buy myself a new car and go on holiday rather than over-indulging on rubbish from the supermarket.
Anyway keep up the blogging, it’s good to see personal finances from a real person perspective rather than the superficial stuff written by the journos.
Here’s something that worked for me in the past. I pick a boring, non-holiday month. I set an expense goal which is realistic and less than the average. I try to beat that number!
There were times I had to get really creative to ‘win’. I sold some old gadgets, books and game CDs to offset differences! :)
Awesome post BTW!
Some good tips in your post and great commets as well! I like the idea of making saving fun too, coz without something to aim for or look forward to what’s the point?
J. Money says
I like the comment on budgets. I’ve been trying to be more disciplined about it. I use to do everything by hand and was very diligent and then got some software to help and it has gone downhill.
We have a large family and getting low-flow shower heads and toilets has helped with the water bill.