It’s fun to spend money on things you like. But, if you spend your money without a care, you may end up with more month than money. Fun’s over, financial distress starts! Want to save more money? Here are 11 tips.
Everyone earns, saves part of the income, and then spends the rest. However, the difference between money-savvy people and the spendthrift is spending wisely. Only a single word to differentiate richer and poorer spending habits. When you practice smart spending, your money stretches further. This translates to saving more money.
Wise: smart or prudent showing experience, knowledge, and good judgement
Think of your own spending habits. What are good spending habits? Identify the ones ones are bad. Then find the ways to break it, one bad habit at a time. When you recognize your spending follies, that’s the day you start to save more money.
Identify your bad spending habits
So, what are your poor spending habits? Here are a few examples:
1. Emotional purchases – these are “Oh! I love that gorgeous dress!” or “I have to get myself these beautiful wheels” You don’t have time to choose and already form a kind of emotional affection for the product.
2. Spontaneous purchases – a poor habit the rich avoid. Seeing the product or a well-designed promotional message will trigger it. It is linked to the basic need for instant gratification.
3. Spend the most money on rogue online shopping. You can get addicted to online shopping. First, you can buy stuff in the comfort of your own home. Second, most of the products are cheaper compared with on-the-shelf. Last, you can pay with a credit card.
4. Spend money on frequent eating out at expensive places. Perhaps you get lazy or don’t want the hassle of cooking.
5. Buying more than necessary. For example, having 20 pairs of shoes!
6. Succumb to peer pressure so you can be “one of the boys”.
Know and identify your bad spending habits. Come up with ideas or ways of substituting good habits for bad habits.
Kick Bad Habits
So, what are you to do to kick out bad habits and replace them with good habits?
1. Keep a simple and minimalist lifestyle. No need to “keep up with the Joneses”.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” ~Will Rogers
To live a simple life means to slow down and give yourself breathing space. It is about “less” because you know it doesn’t lead to being happy to do more or having more. The idea is to find happiness in simple things. Being content with “less” in everything we do or have.
Let the Joneses buy what they like. It’s not that you can’t afford it. It’s because you don’t need it.
Impress yourself first by restraining to impress others.
2. Create and stick to a budget.
“A budget is telling you where to go instead of wondering where it goes.” ~Dave Ramsey
A piece of evergreen advice worth repeating.
Budget is a plan of how you intend to spend your money to do what you need and what matters to you.
It will also be able to help you avoid debt or work your way out of debt.
3. Wait for 3 days before buying any non-necessity products.
“Living on less than you make is a matter of controlling yourself and not a matter of math.” ~Dave Ramsey)
Impulse buying without thinking is a common bad spending habit.
One method to restrain from impulse buying is to wait 3 days before buying. Then, buy if you have to. By then, rationality prevails. But, most of the time you forget it and life still goes on as usual without that thing you contemplate buying 3 days ago.
4. Decide your main reason for wanting to have wise spending habits
“Wealthy people invest first & spend what’s left. Broke people’s spend first and invest what’s left.”
For example “To save RM500,000 for my child’s higher education in 15 years’ time” or “To go to Europe for a second honeymoon with my spouse”. Print it out in large font and hang it somewhere for easy and convenient viewing. It will keep you motivated by reminding you why you need to spend your money.
5. Show gratitude for what you already have
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~Zig Ziglar
An unhappy life is often a life without gratitude. Gratitude helps you much more than the person to whom you are grateful. You will realize you want less when you feel thankful for your life and experience. You are happier where you are and with what you have in life already.
We could recognize just how little we need if we are grateful for what we have.
6. Search around and compare before buying
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” ~Warren Buffett
Be a smart shopper and look for the best deals. Pre-plan your spending so you have time to scour around for the best prices. Or, wait it out until sales time for huge discounts.
Try to avoid “emergency” spending as this forces you pay the first one available regardless of the price.
Do researches, compare prices and get as much information as possible to make a financially prudent decision.
7. Stop the unhealthy habits and/or addictions that cost you substantial money
“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” ~Benjamin Franklin
The three sins – smoking, drinking alcohol, and gambling. Think about it. You are paying from your own hard-earned money to literally “kill” yourself, slowly. But it’s easier said than done. Habits can be difficult to overcome, but addiction is even tougher and more life-threatening.
It’s not like there is an “Eliminate Smoking 101” or “The ABCs of Getting Sober” guides to follow to kick these addictions. To succeed, it demands your full commitment and resolves. Others are only tools to help you.
No motivation? Think about the money saved which you can use it for a better purpose. And importantly, think about your 3 and 6 years old children.
8. Spend wisely. Be frugal but don’t be a cheapskate
“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” ~Pablo Picasso
Avoid being labelled a cheapskate. Being a cheapskate is different from being frugal. Spending wisely doesn’t mean buying 1 pair of shoes at RM50 over a pair of good quality shoes at RM250. For some items, do prioritize quality over quantity as it makes more financial sense for the longer term. Learn how to mix and match, or employ simple DIY to keep things fresh.
9. Haggle or negotiate for a better price
“Life is full of choices. Be willing to walk away.”
It sounds frightening the suggestion to haggle for a better price. But nothing wrong in trying. If you don’t ask, nothing will happen. But if you do, there is a 50% chance you will get a lower price.
You probably be spending more if you’re not negotiating.
10. Find someone to account to
“Surround yourself with people who force you to do better.”
This person could be your spouse, a close and trusted friend or any family member. For the married, it’s logical the spouse is your accountability partner. This partnership is akin to coaching where your financial goals discussed. You should talk about your big money goals and discuss your big buying choices. Your partner can remind you of your goals if your financial decision conflicts with them.
11. Remember to enjoy spending your money!
Yes. It’s your money. Use it wisely and also make room for spending on fun activities you enjoy or on the people you love.
For example, if you love trying new food experiences or catching up with friends, budget a specific sum every month to indulge in eating good food with close friends. Enjoy your experiences.
When and how you spend affects your ability to meet your money objectives. It’s now your turn to score with money by setting up your good spending habits!
Do you have any other savings or spending advice? Please do share.
He has 25 years working experience in different finance-related jobs. He is now a consultant, and personal finance and business writer. His main goal is to help and educate non-finance professionals to understand and solve their personal finances problems. He believes everyone should be financially literate because everything we do has money implications!
Eric currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his wife and two young children.