No matter how hard you try to be mindful of your purchases, it always seems to be that each paycheck lasts you just long enough to make it to the next, with very little wiggle room in the mix. But if you find that taking control of your spending seems to be something of an unachievable goal, it might help to start getting creative with your approach to saving money. To get you started, here are a few of our super easy-to-implement tactics for cutting back on spending and putting aside a pretty penny (or several hundred) a month.
1. Stick to a cash-only policy.
It’s really easy to let your spending get out of control when all it takes is the swipe of some plastic to make a purchase. Switching to cash-only purchases will help you hold yourself accountable for everything you spend on by making every purchase feel more concrete. After all, when you’re watching your cash stash actually deplete, it hits you a lot harder than coming to terms with it when you check your statement later.
2. Buy in bulk.
Even if you’re only shopping for yourself, you should never be afraid to hit up wholesale stores and shop in bulk. Of course, while you might not want to buy produce or perishables in huge quantities for a party of one, it’s totally fine to grab necessities like toilet paper, shampoo, and paper towels in bigger supply. Then you can just stash them away and take them out as needed.
3. Pinch (as in, like, save) those pennies.
You might not think much of pennies when you’re having a cashier hand back your change, but don’t forget that there’s major power in numbers. Sure, there’s not much that you can do with five cents, but your pennies can totally add up to something substantial over time. That’s not to say you’ll save up $100-worth of pennies in a week or anything lofty like that, but over a long (okay, maybe really long) time, you’ll find that what you’ve got with your pennies might be enough to afford you a latte one morning, or another sweet treat.
4. Opt into “recurring payments” – to your savings.
You sign up for recurring payments when it comes to paying off your credit cards or your student loans, so why not take advantage of that same approach, but to supplement your savings, instead? Set a specific amount of money that you want to put aside each month and start looking at it like a recurring payment. You’ll get used to factoring out the $100 or so from your paycheck every month, and you’ll be excited when you see how that money has added up over time.
5. Create a vision board.
It might sound silly, but making a board with pictures of what you’re saving for can be a really useful way to motivate yourself to be thrifty in the name of working your way towards things that you really want. Whether that means decking out your vision board in pictures of major goals, like a trip to South Africa or Thailand, or photos of shorter term splurges, like that couch you’ve been eyeing for your living room, having visual reminders of what you want is always a foolproof way to keep you on track to saving for it.
6. Get fit for free (or just really, really little).
Gym memberships are one of those hefty expenses that everyone justifies because they’re in the interest of a greater good, i.e. getting in shape. But you can definitely save a pretty penny by looking in places other than your local gym for ways to workout and get fit. Instead of the monthly membership fee, try looking into free fitness classes in your area. A lot of times, you’ll find that gyms around you offer up drop-in classes from time to time, or there might even be Meetup groups or clubs in your city that organize free workout sessions around the area. You can also look into online fitness channels for free on YouTube or for a small monthly fee with subscription-based channels like Daily Burn.
7. Cancel your cable.
If you’re one of those people who still has cable, it might be time to cut the cord and find more frugal TV options. Take advantage of subscription services like Netflix and Hulu to stream your favorites commercial-free (or with limited commercials, at the very least) and to slash your bills by more than half every month. And if you find that you’re missing having your regular channels after the switch, you can always look into adding services like Sling to your bundle, which basically allows you to stream a lot of your favorite channels for a fraction of what you pay for cable.
8. Make Groupon your best friend.
Whether or not you’ve ever been big on the couponing craze, you’d be doing yourself a favor by taking advantage of sites like Groupon and Living Social, which have totally changed up the coupon game. By offering up not just goods, but services and experiences like salon visits, gym memberships, tanning sessions, restaurant deals, and vacation packages, these sites make it easy to take care of yourself and, occasionally, pamper yourself without having to shell out an arm and a leg to do it.
9. Delete saved credit card numbers online.
If you have your credit card numbers saved on your computer, buying everything in your online shopping carts can be almost too easy to resist. But if you change it so that you have to manually type your card number in before finalizing every online purchase, you might find that extra little hurdle to be seriously helpful in letting you manage your spending online.