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Almost everyone I know is focused on two things: saving money and earning more. While earning more is a lot more fun, cutting your spending is a lot easier because it is well within your control. Here I will share 9 simple tips on how to stop spending money.
These tips will include both actions you can take as well as specific products or services to think about cutting from your budget. Cutting your spending isn’t just about picking specific things to cut back but also learning what you have to spend. So without further ado, here are 9 tips to stop spending money.
1. BUDGET. BUDGET. BUDGET.
This is the single most important step if you want to learn how to stop spending money. We say it over and over and over here at ASF, because we think it’s the most powerful tool you have to control your spending.
Budgeting gives you a few “special powers” that non-budgeters will never have:
- Giving YOU the CHOICE of how to allocate every dollar that you earn
- Visibility into long-term expenses and whether you are saving enough towards those goals (i.e. eliminating the “surprise”)
- Ability to adapt your spending to life events
There is a reason we harp on budgeting. It was the single biggest financial gamechanger in our lives. We had a good income, we were investing money, and none of that mattered. Because we were still spending more than we earned. We weren’t living below our means.
2. Stop Your Netflix Subscription
For us, this bullet is meant very literally. We realized we simply weren’t watching Netflix anymore, but yet we continued to spend $10/month on it. If you have a Netflix subscription you’re not using, cancel it.
But there’s a bigger point here. Almost everyone pays for some sort of subscription service. And chances are, you have at least one subscription service you are no longer using but still paying for each month. It can be anything – a magazine, an iTunes subscription, or an Amazon subscription.
Companies love subscriptions because you forget about them. And then they continue to earn.
Check your credit card bills (or better yet, your budget) to see what subscriptions you are paying for but no longer use. There are also a few services out there like Trim and Truebill which help you identify your subscriptions.
Keep in mind, $10/month is $120/year. If that subscription required you to pay $120 upfront, would you be as inclined to hit the subscribe button?
3. Buy Electronics Less Frequently
I have shiny object syndrome; I LOVE new toys, particularly gadgets. I am the person who liked to have a new iPhone every year, the new AirPods, and the latest Apple Watch. Problem is, this stuff is expensive.
A new iPhone is $1,000 (ignore the “low monthly rate”), AirPods are a couple hundred bucks, and an Apple Watch is not cheap either. If this stuff is important to you and you budget for it, fantastic! Buy it!
But here’s the realization I had. I had an iPhone that was 2 years old. It still worked great, though the battery wasn’t quite as good as when it was new. So, I bought the brand new iPhone – I dished out the $1,000. And guess what? I discovered it wasn’t much different than my old iPhone. After a few weeks, it was “just an iPhone.”
If you find that the battery in your device is getting old, go replace the battery. It’ll be a whole lot cheaper than a whole new device.
4. Scale Back the Starbucks Habit
I never used to drink Starbucks…until it was a 3-minute walk from my office. I quickly discovered just how easy it is to spend $15, $20, or more per week when it’s that convenient. All this even though there was a coffee machine in my office.
In learning how to stop spending money, I had to learn where my money was going.
Starbucks is good, I understand. But if you go 3 times per week, it can easily turn into a $60/month habit. If it’s important to you and you budget for it, great. But if you can scale it back to say once per week, it becomes a lot more affordable and more of a treat when you do go.
5. Reduce Your Food & Drink Budget with Easy Changes
Spending money at restaurants and bars is EASY. Living on the East Coast, it is nearly impossible to go out for a meal for less than $30. And it is almost certainly impossible to go out for drinks for less than that.
Socializing with friends and family is important, so here are a few easy modifications you can make to your routine to save money.
- Go out to eat less frequently; base this based on what you can afford (as determined by your budget).
- Skip the appetizers and dessert; $12 for ice cream is ridiculous when you could go to any store (including Whole Foods) and get gallons for that price. Not to mention your waistline will thank you for saving the calories.
- Take lunch to work every other week. I take my lunch to the office 4 days per week every other week (usually some kind of salad that I make on Sunday). Lunch costs $10-$11 a day, and a salad for the week costs maybe ¼ of this amount.
- When you go out for drinks, buy fewer drinks. Just because your friends have 3-4 drinks, there’s nothing wrong with having 1-2 drinks. Your wallet will thank you!
6. Scale Back the Clothing Purchases
It’s hard not to like getting new clothes. Clothes, however, are very expensive. So, here’s what I do. I plan how much I can spend on clothing and how often and I stick to it.
As an example, I know that I want to get a box from Trunk Club 2-3 times per year, and I will budget a fixed dollar amount I can spend each time I get a box.
If you are a big shopper, this is a place where you can save a lot of money without big sacrifices.
7. Plan for Long-Term Expenses
Planning for long-term expenses has been a gamechanger in my life. Here’s the way I used to “budget”:
I knew I could afford roughly $1,500/month on my credit cards. Let’s assume for this example my statement ran from the 1st to the 30th.
I’d get to the 20th of the month and have $700 on my card. Awesome! So, let’s say I wanted to get some new earbuds. I spend $200 and now my credit card is $900. I get to the 22nd and I realize my car property tax is due at the end of the month. So now I’ve spent $1,200. I get to the 25th. My friends want to go out for a night on the town. Now my credit card is $1,400. Bad news, though. I didn’t realize it, but my credit card’s annual fee just hit (now a whopping $550). Suddenly my bill is $1,950 and I’m almost $500 over my “budget.”
This sounds a bit unrealistic, but every month I found there was some “surprise.” Thing is though, none of these expenses are surprising.
I could have known my credit card annual fee happens this month. I could have known my car property tax was this month. I could have been budgeting for these things all year long.
How to Plan for Long-Term Expenses
This same rule applies for holiday gifts, year-end charitable contributions, semi-annual insurance bills, etc. Budget for these purchases every single month. While you may be surprised how little slack is left in your budget after planning for your long-term expenses, this will give you a huge leg-up on understanding your money and planning your spending.
Planning for long-term expenses is probably the single biggest change in my habits. It has now made it crystal clear what I can afford and what I cannot. And no expense is no longer a “surprise.” The amount of control this gives you in your financial life cannot be understated.
If you want to know how to stop spending money, you must first know what you can afford to spend.
8. Scrap the Amazon Prime Habit
Amazon Prime is easy. And because it’s easy, it makes spending money dead simple. Being able to buy anything with just a couple of clicks makes the little things add up.
Now I am not inherently opposed to having Amazon Prime (I admittedly still do). But if you’re going to use Amazon, you need to budget your spending.
Otherwise $20 here, $15 there will suddenly turn into hundreds of dollars a month. And then you will realize you don’t actually know where you spent that money.
9. Find Ways to Cut Expenses Without Making Sacrifices
One of the best ways to save money is to find savings on things you are already buying.
As an example, I used to pay monthly for my car insurance. At my last renewal, I found out that if I pay the bill in full once per year, I could save almost $200. Of course, this only works if I budget for these bills because otherwise, they are a “surprise.”
If there are expenses you are paying for anyways, it’s worth checking to see if there are ways you can cut back those expenses by paying upfront. Additionally, certain expenses are worth shopping around (internet, cell phone, insurance, etc.).
Finally, I recently discovered a service called Truebill, and I was able to save $885 on services I was already buying – all with less than 30 minutes of effort. Check out our full Truebill review to see how you can save money on things like internet, cable, home security, and more!
How to Stop Spending Money through Exercising Moderation
I am a big believer of most things in moderation. This includes your financial life. If you love Starbucks, by all means, buy Starbucks. But build it into your budget and find something else that is a lower priority where you can cut back.
Budgeting is about controlling your finances and maximizing the value you get out of your dollars. With these simple steps, you can work towards your financial goals without feeling like you’re giving up what’s important to you. Also, be sure to check out the 7 Most Common Budgeting Mistakes.
Looking for other money-saving tips? Check out these 17 ways to save money on a tight budget!