It happens gradually. You treat the kids to Unicorn Starbucks drinks and then get a fancy latte for yourself. You decide to grab takeout instead of making dinner. You throw random items into the cart at Target. Suddenly, your checking account is nearly at $0 and you’ve realized your spending is out of control. If this sounds like you, here are a few ways to cut back.
Shop With Tunnel Vision
Mindlessly strolling through the grocery store picking up items can turn into receipt shock at the checkout. The best strategy for avoiding overspending is to make a grocery list beforehand. This means shopping with a goal and not going rogue. Stick to the perimeter of the store where you’ll find meat and fresh foods. The center aisles are mostly where prepackaged and junk foods live; these are unnecessary to have in your kitchen and (bonus!) ditching them from your cart can help promote healthier eating habits. HouseMix has even more money-saving tips for grocery shopping (like bringing a calculator) and how to buy in bulk.
Pay With Cash
Consumers spend less when they pay with cash, according to a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you rarely pay with cash, experiment with it. You may find that you feel more connected to a purchase and value an item more when you physically make a transaction, rather than quickly swipe a card. You have the actual remaining amount of money in your hands, rather than seeing it appear weeks later on a credit card statement, which is easy to ignore. Start by cutting up your credit cards and putting cash in envelopes designated for certain categories like groceries, bills, etc.
Save on Mobile Costs
One way to lower your spending is to adjust your mobile phone plan based on your needs. Nerd Wallet recommends. T-Mobile’s Bring Your Own Device prepaid program allows you to use your current phone with a new SIM card. Making the switch without a contract can be your best deal, and it comes with features like large data plans with a low monthly cost and no overage fees. Plus, you’ll get high speed 4G LTE data. Make sure to check if you’re eligible for any discounts through work, study or serving in the armed forces.
Take a Hiatus From Social Media
Social media has hidden financial pitfalls, like sending subliminal messages to spend, spend, spend. Think about the brands you follow, pictures of friends’ fancy vacations, products your connections are selling and simple items in photos that may trigger your shopping side. Even a cup of coffee can make you want to go spend $5 on a gourmet pick-me-up as well. Ditch social media now if cutting costs is crucial; you can always return to it later once you’ve adopted better habits. Posts and pictures can be a constant reminder of what you want but don’t need.
Prioritize Co-Curricular Activities
There are many benefits that come along with our kids playing sports. They learn teamwork, sportsmanship, athleticism and commitment. Many kids play multiple sports, and for families with more than one child, those extra-curricular expenses add up fast. The National Council on Youth Sports states that more than 20 percent of parents spend over $1,000 or more on sports each year per child. Assess your children’s involvement in sports and activities. Here are some tips to help alleviate costs:
- Choose one sport per season
- Buy used equipment
- Sell old equipment
- Sign your child up for local recreational sports (these tend to be more affordable)
- Budget for all costs, even gas for travel.