Have you set any goals yet for 2015? Hopefully so and at least one of those goals was money related. Money is a driving force in our lives and financial goals help us tell our money what to go do with itself.
During the last week of December I always look at the cumulative total of all that I spent during the year. This is really easy to find if you are using some form of money management software. I use Quicken so all I have to do is select a budget report of income verses expenses for the year and Quicken does the rest. In an instant of calculation I can see all my financial details from the year.
Inevitably, as I look through all the spending categories I end up remarking, “Whoa…how did we spend that much on (fill in the blank)?” I’m sure you’ve done that too. It seems our spending has a tendency to get away from us during the course of a 365-day year.
And if spending is getting away from us then so is saving. If we are spending more that means we are saving less. In years past I’ve been discouraged at how little we saved.
To Build Wealth, Spend Less
At its basic core, increasing wealth boils down to a simple equation: spend less than you make. The balance between what you make and what you spend should first go into savings then ultimately investments. Do that consistently and your financial situation can’t help but improve.
Do it for decades and great wealth will accumulate.
How do we spend less so we can save more? Lessening big purchases can have an impact, but more often than not it’s the little things we do incrementally that fill up the expense categories.
So, to get your mind rolling at the start of a new year, here are 99 small things you can do in 2015 – broken down into categories – to help you spend less and ultimately save more.
Ways to Spend Less to Save More
Surely you can find several action items here that will help:
1. Brew your own coffee.
2. Begin using coupons.
3. Look for the buy-one-get-one deals when grocery shopping.
4. Don’t throw away leftovers.
5. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you…(see #6)
7. Cook in bulk and freeze meals for later. (We do this all the time especially with home made soups.)
8. Shop at a discount food store.
9. Eat less meat.
10. Buy food at a warehouse club. (Just be disciplined…spending at warehouse clubs can go overboard.)
11. Purchase generic brands.
12. Pack your lunch when going to work or school.
13. Take advantage of every potluck meal your church or civic organization offers.
14. Stick to your grocery list when shopping and…(see #15)
15. Eat before you go to the grocery store. (Never shop on an empty stomach…you will definitely get a craving for something not on the list and buy it.)
16. Start a garden.
17. Pick your own fruits and vegetables from a local orchard or farm. (We do this in the summer at a local peach farm…we get a bushel of peaches for $5.)
18. Utilize a crock pot more often to save time and reduce energy usage.
19. Find a dollar theater for movies or…(see #20)
20. Go to a matinee.
21. Utilize the library for reading materials.
22. Play board games with the family.
23. Cut off the cable TV or…(see #24)
24. Purchase a Netflix subscription for cheaper entertainment. (We saved almost $1,000 a year by doing this when we were getting out of debt.)
25. Go to local high school athletic events instead of the pros.
26. Locate a hiking or biking trail (or other cheap means of outdoor entertainment).
27. Buy used video games or…(see #28)
28. Find free online game sites.
29. Take the kids to the park.
30. Go Geocaching. (Kids love this!)
31. Invite friends over to play cards, watch movies or just hang out.
32. Be honest with friends and family on your budget limitations. (Don’t feel like you have to go spend money just because they ask.)
33. Cancel magazine or other subscriptions not being used enough to justify the cost.
34. Start and follow a budget. (Nothing on this list will help you spend less and save more than doing this.)
35. Avoid buying on impulse.
36. Use the 24-hour rule on all expensive items.
37. Cut up the credit cards or at least…(see #38)
38. Make your monthly credit card payment on time.
39. Get intense about your debt snowball.
40. Don’t bounce a check.
41. Avoid the ATM fees by planning ahead for your cash needs.
42. Ask your credit card company for an interest rate reduction.
43. Check all your bills for mistakes.
44. Make automatic payments from your paycheck to your savings each month.
45. Put the maximum into your company’s retirement plan (especially if they offer an employer match).
46. Pay your bills on time.
Health and Fitness
47. Run or walk outside instead of buying a treadmill or joining a gym.
48. Take vitamins to combat sickness.
49. Follow through on all routine doctor checkups (vision, dental, physicals, etc.).
50. Ask for generic drug prescriptions.
51. Drink more water (especially when eating out).
52. Give up expensive hobbies and…(see #53)
53. Cut back on or eliminate addictive habits (such as smoking, consuming alcohol or gambling).
54. Routinely wash your hands to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.
55. Cut or color your own hair.
56. Brush and floss daily.
57. Find free fitness classes or stream them online.
58. Buy quality clothes that last longer, but when buying pricier name brands…(see #59)
59. Purchase items on sale.
61. Frequent garage sales.
62. Dry your clothes on a clothesline.
63. Use cold water to wash laundry.
64. Take care of the clothes you have.
65. Save clothes that could be used as hand-me-downs.
66. Do a clothes swap or get used clothes from other families with same age kids.
Travel and Transportation
67. Use public transportation.
68. Car pool or…(see #69)
69. Ride your bike to work.
70. Routinely service your car’s oil, tire pressure, air filter and other fluids.
71. Consider moving closer to work or the kid’s school.
72. Drive responsibly…don’t speed.
73. If planning a trip, routinely check for discounted hotels, flights and activities. (Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans if a new deal pops up.)
74. Use your credit card rewards when traveling (but don’t overspend on your monthly budget just to get reward points).
In and Around the Home
75. Check all heating and air ducts for open gaps.
76. Insulate and seal around all windows and doors with caulk.
77. Add insulation in the attic or basement.
78. Use blinds to block afternoon sunlight in summer. Open blinds to let in sunlight in winter.
79. Use fans instead of the air conditioner.
80. Get a programmable thermostat and…(see #81)
81. Set the thermostat higher (for air conditioning in summer) and lower (for heating in winter).
82. Turn off the lights when you leave a room (Please for the love of Pete, kids…TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!).
83. Try to fix a broken item rather than call a repairman (only if you are comfortable with doing so).
84. Use surge protectors on expensive items.
85. Unplug clocks, televisions and computers when on vacation.
86. Take shorter showers.
87. Turn off the running water as you brush your teeth or do dishes in the sink.
88. Keep all appliances clean and keep them in good working order.
89. Purchase energy efficient light bulbs.
90. Ditch the yard service and cut your own grass.
91. Cut back tree limbs away from house.
92. Keep current your termite and insect protection plan.
93. Check out the rates for other providers of homeowners’ and auto insurance policies.
94. Get rid of that whole life insurance and purchase a cheaper term life insurance policy.
95. Raise the deductible on insurance policies. (Doing so will reduce your monthly premium but increase your out of pocket expense if there is a claim to make.)
96. Investigate other carriers to reduce cell phone costs.
97. Sell items at a garage sale instead of throwing them away.
98. Use Wi-Fi where available instead of your phone’s data plan
99. Shop for holidays after the holidays to find bargains.
And one final bonus tip that will actually round this list out to an even 100…
100. Get busy reading some personal finance blogs.
I have some great ones listed in my blogroll if you are wondering where to start. The more you engage in learning about personal finance the more likely you will be to catch the spend less, save more fever. And that will have a great impact on your future wealth accumulation.
Questions: What do you plan to spend less on this year? How will you save more money in the coming year? Anything you can add to the list?
Prior Post: Your Do-Over Moment Is and Isn’t a Big Deal