Wanting to change your spending habits to save money?
Trying to spend less money here and there?
Don’t know where to cut back without losing your current lifestyle?
Then allow me to tell you about how I have changed how I spend my money. With a small investment of time and ingenuity, I’ve found ways to cut down on unnecessary expenses. Not to eliminate them all completely, but instead to modify what, where, and how often I take on frivolous expenses.
My intention here is to help you spend less money while still getting what you want in the end. And keep in mind that these are simply suggestions!
A great way I found worked for me was to keep track of my monthly habits with this Monthly Habit Tracker. Make sure to grab yours here for free.
Common Spending Habits to Change
1. Fast Food / Take Out
I’ve been guilty of this one, where I’d buy fast food at least 3 times a week for dinner and I would go out for lunch at least once a week out with my co-workers. This adds up if it’s fast food I expected to pay $10 minimum and then with my co-workers we usually would go for all-you-can-eat sushi, which would cost $20 after tip.
If I calculate that as the bare minimum that’s $50 a week on takeout. It doesn’t look that high but if you add it to a yearly number: $2600. Average $10-$20 a meal.
Then compare it to my grocery spending money of $100 for 2 people. That makes us about 15 meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and snacks. That’s an average of $6.66 a meal, which also includes the cost of other sundries such as toiletries and cleaning supplies.
Planning and prepping your menu ahead of time will save you a lot of money and help eliminate the urge to go for takeout. When you know what’s on the menu, you don’t need to think after coming home from a long day.
If you’re craving that nacho plate from your favorite restaurant, copy-cat it at home! It will cost you much less and you get to enjoy it in the comfort of your home. If you factor in a couple of beers at $7-8 a bottle, plus tip, you’ll have more than enough for a 6-pack from the depanneur!
And I’m not saying never go for take-out, but if you are reading this, you are trying to save some pennies! But how about making it a once a month thing? You might appreciate it more if you had it only once a month. When my co-workers and I were going to sushi once a week, it became a routine.
When I broke that habit and waited a whole month, it tasted so much better!
2. Brand Names
Brand names are sometimes overrated. The No Name brand and store brands are often just as tasty as the brand name equivalent. It’s rare, but sometimes the store brand is marked at a higher price than the brand name.
Loblaw’s is great for marking the cost per 100g on their shelf labels so you can compare which is cheaper.
3. Gym Membership
If you use your gym membership, by all means, keep it! I have a co-worker and she goes religiously every lunch hour and I admire her determination. However, if you’re like me and buy the membership and go for the first month and then hold on to it for a couple of years, then I suggest you cancel it.
You still want to be active but don’t have the urge to go to the gym anymore?
Go for walks or runs (I can’t run due to my lovely knee, but maybe you can). Put on some music and just go explore your neighborhood. Alternatively, choose a direction, put on a half hour timer and see how far you can walk.
Once the half hour is up, turn around and head back the way you came. There’s an hour done. Bored going alone, grab a buddy.
Look into the book Toning for Teens, by Joyce L. Vedral. Even though it may target teens, I’ve used it many times as an adult. It has a meal plan that is pretty easy to follow with meals that are surprisingly filling.
Check out some YouTube exercise channels. There are no additional fees and you can access them at your convenience.
Blogilates: Offers a scheduled, monthly video chart for you to follow so you never get bored.
Yoga With Adriene: Adriene has a 30-day yoga challenge which I highly recommend.
4. New Clothes
I haven’t bought new clothes for several years. I don’t have the salary to be buying new items for my wardrobe on a regular basis, and I’m ok with that.
If you’re in the same boat or just want to save money, thrift stores are a wonderful place to look for clothes and accessories. It’s not shameful at all.
Sometimes I find brand new clothes on the rack that you can feel no one has worn before and for a fraction of the price! Occasionally I find a new favorite shirt for $5. It’s always a savings victory when I go there.
5. Cable / Satellite
I’ve never subscribed to cable or satellite service since I’ve moved out of my parents, and I don’t believe I ever will. It’s way too expensive to get multiples of every channel.
- Digital Box is a one time purchase that gives you the local channels.
- Netflix, if you have a good internet connection, is a good way to stay entertained for only $12 a month.
- Wait until a series is complete and rent it. Skip all those commercials as well.
- Listen to the radio or browse online for your daily news fix.
6. New Printer Ink
If you want to save some money on ink, get your cartridge refilled. It will save you money and help the environment!
7. Daily Tim Horton / Starbucks
I used to be guilty of buying Starbucks and Tim Hortons regularly.
You say that it’s only $1.50 for a small Tim’s, but that $1.50 over a week turns into $10.50 and close to $50 over a month.
And then there’s Starbucks. When the Pumpkin Spice Latte came out a few years ago, I would get one every couple of days. Today I try to limit myself to a couple of Tall orders during the season.
Just like eating out, you might savor the flavor more if you limit yourself.
Make your coffee at home. Simple, right? Yep! Get yourself a lovely travel mug and just bring it to work, or even wake up a little earlier like I do and enjoy your coffee at home. It’s a great way to ease into your day.
Keep track of your coffee habit, with the Monthly Habit Tracker, if you make your coffee at home, then add a circle, if you go out, put an X.
Limit your coffee runs for the week; go only once a week instead of daily.
If you’re a Starbucks addict, make sure to get the app to collect your points! Or even buy yourself a gift card and once it’s gone you don’t buy another until your budget tells you to.
Instead of getting those fancy drinks at Starbucks, try to slowly convert to their regular coffee. Paying $5 or more for a fancy drink compared to $2 for a regular coffee can put a dent in your budgeting goals. Limit yourself to a fancy drink to once a month.
How to Create Better Spending Habits
Decide Which Spending Habits to Break First
They say Rome was not built in a day. And they’re right!
If this is all too overwhelming, make sure to ease into it. Decide which spending habits you want to break and then keep adding to your list until you’re satisfied.
Replace Bad Spending Habits with Good Spending Habits
Tip: Print out your credit card statement and highlight every single bad spending habit to see where all your money is going.
Budget: The way to start having good spending habits is by having a budget. If you know where all your money will go, you’ll be able to see what’s left over and what can you cut out.
Research before you shop: With the internet being so accessible to everyone, there’s no excuse not to do research before going out and buying high ticket items.
Avoid your spending triggers: Just like bad eating habit triggers, like stress, bad day or even being around a certain person. Try seeing those triggers and make sure to avoid them and if you can’t, replace the bad spending habits with good ones.
Buddy system: Have a buddy to check in with, even if it’s your significant other.
Look for savings before you buy: They have this app, flipp, where you can search for sales. I highly recommend it for those staple items. Our regular coffee goes down to $5.99 a tin, while I’ve seen it at a regular price as high as $15.99.
Treat yourself: If you’re doing great with your new habits, don’t forget to treat yourself!
In short, moderation is key. You don’t have to lose all the creature comforts you’ve become accustomed to, but if you eliminate some costs and impulses, you can find your way to budgeting success. Control the urge to always go for brand new, brand names, premium services, or it’s just going to cost you an arm and a leg.
What are habits or expense that you’ve curved in order to achieve the same lifestyle?