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Money saving strategies

Money saving

If your goal is to save money,  it makes sense to spend less.

Not only is it logical, it's one of the easiest ways to save.

Another way to save money is to make more money. However, it takes effort to earn more money. That is, selling items, changing careers/jobs, or working more hours.

Spending less money only requires a change in your habits, which you have more control of, versus circumstances outside of yourself (i.e. increasing income).

With that in mind, here are 9 things you can start implementing today to help you spend less money easily.

Track and Budget Your Expenses

Budgeting is essential if you want to get a handle on your finances, but it can also help you to spend less money as well.

A written budget is a plan for your money, so if you plan to spend less, you are more likely to do so (than if you did not).

Of course, there is  no guarantee that you will (or can) always stay within your budget, but over time you will develop the skills to do so.

Related: If you're getting paid biweekly or irregularly, check out these monthly budgeting tips.

How to Track Your Spending

Another thing that is closely related to budgeting is tracking your spending.

Budgeting itself is a form of tracking your spending, and you need to be aware of (how much and where) you spend your money.

We recommend that you track quarterly (three months), six-month (mid-year), and yearly spending where possible.

This can be done manually, a spreadsheet is easiest, but paper is always an option. Or it can be done via a budget tracking application, or your financial institution (bank or credit card issuer).

I use Mint (free) to budget, and also track my expenses. However, I feel the tracking function is the most worthwhile. It allows you to see your spending by category for any time period.

I have several years of valuable spending data now. In fact, this information was fundamental in helping me to decide to do a no spend challenge (more on that below).

You can also see your income, net worth, and assets over time with Mint.

Personal Capital (free) also has the option to track your income and spending. I however use it mostly to track my net worth and investments.

Another option is to check your bank or credit card website and app. Many of them offer options for budgeting and tracking expenses.

For example, my Chase credit card provides annual (and ongoing) expense reports.

Ability to Track Spending Tracking spending is important. This is to highlight areas in your budget that you may be overspending.

I've looked at my annual expense report many times in the past and was shocked to find out how much money I spent on shopping.

Seeing how much money you spend over a period of time (compared to monthly) is even more powerful.

In fact, you may  need to cut back on your spending.

Cooking at home (mostly)

If you've read articles about saving money, you've probably seen this article.

It is true that eating out costs more than eating at home.

I have compared my budgets that involve eating out, versus buying groceries. And eating out always costs $100 more a month (depending on where and how often I do it).

In a typical month, I never eat out (no coffee, no fast-food, no restaurants).

Related: See the 5 categories I no longer budget for.

That is not to say I am going to turn down brunch with friends. I'm always willing to spend money on the experience, so if my friends want to socialize over dinner, go there. Something that fits your lifestyle, such as one meal a week.

The goal is to spend less money. So if you manage to cut your dining budget even a little, it's a win.

Of course, the more you reduce certain spending habits, the more money you  save. But if you cannot give up eating out, look for somewhere else to save.

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