Saving money is easy. Just spend less than you make. This is the perfect example of “easier said than done”. The better approach is, How do I develop good money habits?
You can create a budget and save money. I’m a big fan of budgets of course but how exactly do you stick to it? How do you commit to your budget?
Most of the time, we don’t realize how much money we are spending. Over time, we create money habits that become just that, habits. The problem with habits is that they happen automatically, whether good or bad.
My parents didn’t have a lot of money growing up so they had to be really good with money. They also didn’t have credit cards so they only bought what they could afford. When my mom and dad finally got credit cards, they always paid their statement balance, not just the minimum payment.
So growing up, I learned great money habits from my parents. And most importantly, great money saving habits.
However, when I started working. That pretty much went out the window. The only money habits that I kept were to buy what I could afford and pay for my credit cards in full each month. Those were good habits however the problem was I wasn’t saving any money.
When I graduated from college with $43,000 in student loan debt. I knew I needed to get serious about saving money.
I first looked into where and how I was spending my money. This is where I noticed that I was spending a lot of money on habits that I had created over the years.
The following are habits that I decided to incorporate into my everyday life and what helped me save more than $100,000 in six years.
habit #1 – don’t shop as an activity.
Shopping used to be a weekend activity for me. When I got my first job after college, I would go to the Marshalls next door during my lunch breaks and shop.
The problem with my “weekend activity” of shopping was that it was costing me hundreds of dollars each month. Every trip to TJ Maxx or Marshalls was costing me at least $150.
Eight years later, I can’t think of one thing that I have from my lunch break Marshalls trips. Most of what I bought were clothes and random things that I eventually got rid of or are in my parents’ garage somewhere.
So how do you change this weekend or week “activity”?
Instead of going shopping:
- Go on an hour walk
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
- Get a coffee
- Pick up a hobby (a cheap hobby)
If you still really want to go shopping because you just like to browse and enjoy the “activity” as I do. Go without your credit card. Leave with just $20 in cash MAX and don’t bring your credit card. If you find something that you absolutely can’t live without, you can come back and get it.
habit #2 – carry cash instead of credit cards.
Remember the spending habits I talked about earlier? You develop spending habits over time that happen day in and day out. But how much are they costing you? Do you need to do them?
For example; buying your lunch at work, getting fast food, Starbucks everyday, unnecessary Target runs. These are purchases that are so easy to make when you have your credit card. But remember they add up over time.
When you go grocery shopping, make a list of what you will need and how much you are going to spend. It’s hard to figure out exactly how much money you will spend but just take an extra $20.
habit #3 – if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
Before you buy a big-ticket item or even a nice pair of shoes, let’s say $200. If you can’t afford to pay for them in your next credit card bill or with cash, don’t buy it.
This will get easier the more you do it. Remember that habits don’t develop overnight but they become so much easier and eventually they do become habits.
habit #4 – track your expenses.
For a few years, I was really good at saving money. I was saving about 35% of my paycheck. What I didn’t realize was that I could have saved so much more.
When I think back, my credit statements were always between $600-$800 dollars each month. Most of that was on clothes so if I wanted too, I could have saved so much more. The problem was I never tracked my expense so I never knew exactly where my money was going.
So track your expenses and take the opportunity to take control of your money. If you can save more money now and work less in the future, why not?
Tracking expenses is one of the steps in 5 Easy Steps To Budgeting Success. Check out the post if you need to create a unique budget that works for YOU!.
habit #5 – don’t buy it just because it’s on sale.
Also, don’t buy it just because it’s cheap. Things from the Target “dollar section” add up. Cheap things you buy that cost you a $1 or $5 will eventually need to be replaced more than once.
As far as not buying things just because they are on sale. This is a habit that I didn’t realize I had until I looked into my spending habits.
We think we are getting a great deal when something is on sale so we buy it. So did we really get a good deal? Maybe, but did we need it?
next time you want to buy something that’s on sale, ask yourself;
- How many hours of work is this costing me?
- How long will this last me? How many uses will I get out of it?
- Can I wait three months to buy it?
5 mONEY sAVING hABITS SUMMARY
- Don’t shop as an activity.
- Carry cash instead of credit cards.
- If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
- Track your expenses.
- Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale.
If you implement these five habits in your day to day, you will absolutely save money and stay out of debt. Just remember what I’ve said a few times now. Habits take time. They don’t happen overnight but keep practicing.
Please keep me updated! I want to know which habits you’ve successfully implemented in your life 🙂