Money management can feel stressful, boring and—in some cases, next to impossible. Instead of forcing yourself to maintain a budget that you forget about half-way through the month, use these tips to start developing simple habits that help you spend less money in the long run.
When you take better care of your items, reduce impulse shopping, and find easier ways to track your expenses, you’ll realize that money management is easier than ever.
The instant gratification of shopping is likely why the term “retail therapy” came to be: “The neurotransmitter surges when you're considering buying something new—anticipating a reward, in other words,” explains Melissa Dahl, Elle contributor. This is why it feels so good to shop, especially when you’re in a bad mood or have had a tough week at work. This is also why you need to develop strategic shopping habits to save money in the long run.
The easiest way to shop strategically is to have set shopping days on your calendar based on upcoming sales. Many stores have large, annual sales around the same time each year. Mark them on your calendar, and when the day, week or weekend comes, let yourself dig in.
If you don’t want to wait, but are still trying to save money, ask yourself one simple question before you head to the register: If I go home without this, will I be upset tomorrow? This helps to determine how much you truly want the item. If the answer is no, walk away.
If this habit still doesn’t feel like enough to get you to walk away from unnecessary purchases, put a time limit on yourself. When you find something you love, but don’t need, wait 48 hours before buying it. This may be enough time to slow down and think about the purchase, before spending impulsively.
Take Better Care of Your Possessions
One of the easiest ways to save money in the long run is to simply take better care of the items you already own. This is especially true if you tend to buy more expensive clothing and electronics. The good news is, the latter, buying more expensive items, is actually good for your budget—if you keep them in good shape:
“Although it's tempting to choose the more budget-friendly version of an item, sometimes choosing quality over quantity will save you more in the long run. Save up your money and get the best-quality product you can afford, and leverage the cost-per-wear philosophy with more expensive clothing and shoes,” suggests Brittney Castro, CNBC contributor.
Whether you spend a lot or a little on the items you buy, keeping them in good shape will always help you spend less money in the long run. For example, dry cleaning your most expensive items once each month is a great way to keep your clothes looking fresh. According to Why Dry Clean Compared to Machine Clean, not only do some fabrics require the delicate nature of dry cleaning, but the solvents used in dry cleaning even help maintain the “new” appearance of your clothing while removing stains that traditional washers and detergents can’t.
Track Your Expenses
You’ve probably heard this tip many times—and for good reason. This is the only way to truly see and understand where you’re spending your money. You may be shocked to see that you’ve spent £200 on coffee at the end of the month, when you could have spent less than £10 on a bag of coffee to make at home each week.
The challenge, however, is actually doing it. Start with a free app to help you gain a better understanding of where your money is going, and slowly build up a picture of your spending habits. Once you have this, then you can start to make meaningful savings.
Review Your Credit Card Statement Thoroughly
It’s easy for expenses and fraudulent charges to go under the radar if you aren’t good about checking your credit card statement each month. When reading through your statement, look for, one-time fraudulent charges, which can be reported and removed from your bill. Even after it’s been removed, keep your eye out for any recurring charges. If you were illegally signed up for a service, it may continue charging you with each billing period.
Make Money Management Fun
When you think about budgeting, you immediately think of boring spreadsheets and math you don’t want to do. If you make money management fun, though, it will be easier to spend less in the long run. Here are a few fun ideas to try:
● Set secret financial goals, like trying to spend less than your best friend at dinner. When you meet your goal, treat yourself with something you’ve been putting off buying—or better yet, don’t spend, and instead reward yourself with a lavish home dinner or a long, hot bath.
● Look for one deal every single day. Whether it’s a happy hour special or a great deal on toiletries. This gets you into the saving mindset, without feeling like you’re holding yourself back.
Spend Less in the Long Run
Develop good money habits now, allowing you to spend less in the long run, while saving for larger purchases, like investing in a home or buying a new car. Money management doesn’t need to be stressful or boring.
It’s about making small lifestyle changes that lead to big savings in the long run.