Creative ways to spend less
Aug 31, 2023
Taking control of your finances doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are six ways to spend less and save more.
If you're having a tough time meeting your savings goal, you're not alone. According to a 2023 Bankrate survey, 74% of respondents reported that they're saving less right now due to economic challenges such as inflation and unemployment. When you factor in the continually rising cost of living and record high interest rates for borrowers, allocating money to a long-range savings goal may seem like an impossible task. But, with a little creativity, you may be able to free up some additional funds to support your savings goals. Here are six practical tips to consider.
You don’t need excess money to start saving, all you need is a little creativity. Here are six creative ways to help you start chipping away at your savings goals.
Cooking at home
The convenience of ordering in allows many of us to skip the time and effort required to cook a meal at home – with the press of a button, you can instantly get food delivered to your doorstep. But ordering in might be costing you more than you think. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends over $3,000 annually on food prepared “away from home.” Imagine pocketing $3,000USD instead, and gaining some new cooking skills while you’re at it.
Preparing your meals at home can help you save more and spend less. If you don’t know where to start, take a peek online, as quick and easy recipes and cooking tips are everywhere, including YouTube, Pinterest, and even TikTok. Take the savings even further and reduce your grocery bill by making homemade salad dressings and pasta sauces or starting a garden with your favorite herbs like basil or rosemary.
Get your friends involved and share a rotating recipe document so you have something new to try every week. Or, get together over a home-cooked meal or potluck to spend time together without having to pay a restaurant bill.
Review your subscriptions
With so many subscription-based services, it’s easy to sign up and lose track of what you’re actively paying for. According to a recent study by C+R Research, almost half of consumers surveyed (42%) forgot about a monthly subscription they were being billed for and no longer using.
Take the time to review everything you’re subscribed to and cancel any subscriptions that you don’t use. Odds are, you don’t need three different streaming services all at once. Canceling one or two subscriptions can help you spend less and stick to your budget.
In an instant gratification world, automation makes life easier. With autofill, your credit card information is automatically loaded whenever you make an online purchase. Although this is convenient, it also makes spending that much easier.
For non-essential purchases, consider turning autofill off. Manually entering your information gives you more time to think about your purchase and whether it’s necessary.
No spend challenge
A “no spend” challenge is exactly what it sounds like – a day, week, or month dedicated to limiting your spending to essentials only, like food, utilities, and home.
Taking part in this challenge is a great way to practice mindful spending and breaking bad money habits by becoming more aware of how you spend. Maybe you buy a $5 cup of coffee every morning before work and during the challenge you save over $100 in a month just from making coffee at home instead.
When you become used to setting financial boundaries, you develop greater self-control and make conscious choices. Plus, being limited to necessities forces you to be creative with how you save. Make the challenge fun by substituting in low-cost experiences like a movie night or an at-home manicure.
After the challenge, you'll have accumulated savings that can be used to invest in an emergency fund or towards your financial goals.
Community driven savings
Our communities are filled with many money-saving resources and activities that often get overlooked. For example, check online to find your local buy/sell groups, which can help you save through secondhand items. Or, take advantage of public services, such as libraries to borrow books and media for free. Community events are a free and a fun way to get out with friends or family.
Some communities also house gardens where you can share a space to grow fruits and vegetables and save on groceries. When you’re finding ways to spend less, using all the resources around you can make a big difference.
Go on a cash diet
This next tip might seem obvious, but it's helpful when you’re trying to cut back on expenses. Start using cash, or perhaps your debit cards, more frequently. Using money that comes directly from your account means you’re restricted to whatever is there, reducing the likelihood of debt accumulation and impulse decisions. Plus, seeing money leave directly from your bank or wallet often makes an expense seem more tangible.
If relying solely on the money you have available seems difficult, see if your workplace offers on-demand pay, a financial wellness tool that can help you bridge the gap between paydays. With on-demand pay, you can get access to your earned wages between paydays and rely less on credit to fuel your purchases.
Now is the time to start your journey to financial freedom. With a little creativity, you can find ways to spend less and save more for your future. Using savings tips that work with your lifestyle can improve your financial wellbeing, as even small but practical changes can make a significant difference over time.