Have you ever asked yourself at the end of the month, “Where did all the money go?” We bet most of us are asking ourselves that very question on a regular basis these days, and answering it with a resounding yes. If you answered no, you’re to be envied! Especially during the holiday season.
If you’re one of the many Canadians who answered in the affirmative, you may want to consider the following five strategies—quite sensible suggestions that could help you stop overspending and allow you to put aside more cash for your savings.
With monthly expenses on the rise, we’re pretty sure some helpful advice about cutting costs would be welcome!
The ABCs of Saving
A is for Afford
“I need that!” Sound familiar? True, you need groceries for dinner. But, do you need that expensive bottle of Chablis your friend raved to you about today to go with it? You need a car. But, do you need that brand new model in the dealership showroom, or would the more affordable two-year-old model serve your purposes just as well? Or the latest new gadget on display at the Apple store, and so on?
Recognize the difference between needs and wants. It’s key to making sure you don’t spend beyond your means. The next time you’re about to buy something you know is off budget, ask yourself:
- Do I really need that?
- Is there a less expensive alternative?
- Can I make do without it?
B is for Budget
It’s a word many people have a hard time with. But establishing and sticking to a monthly household budget will make you aware of where you need to make spending adjustments. Sticking to a budget helps you to spend less and save more – by tracking where your dollars go.
C is for Careful
Be careful about impulse shopping. For example, you stop in at the big box store for some minor purchase like getting a new frying pan and come out with a “fantastic buy” on a new TV. Oops, now you’re several hundred dollars more in debt on your credit card.
Impulse shopping can be a budget destroyer. One strategy is to make yourself think about the item in question for 24 hours. This gives you time to be honest with yourself and consider whether or not you can afford it or if indeed you even need it. More often than not, a clearer head will prevail.
Another strategy to help curb unwarranted spending is to avoid shopping after you’ve had a bad day. Most people’s experience of ‘retail therapy’ is often regretted the next day.
If you’re a compulsive impulse buyer, another way to help curb spending is to give yourself a set cash allowance for one week. Leave your debit and credit cards at home. If you manage to not go over your allotted cash allowance, try doing it for another week, and then another. Bank what you don’t spend.
D is for Don’t…
Don’t keep subscribing to things you never use. Are you subscribed to top-of-the-line satellite, cable, internet/phone and/or cell phone plans? Have you got subscriptions to numerous magazines/newspapers you never have time to read? Do you belong to an elite gym to which you never or rarely go? Have you got other exclusive memberships at clubs you’re not using?
The question is: “If you don’t use them regularly, why are you paying for them?” Do you actually have the time to take advantage of everything you’re paying for on a monthly basis? If you don’t use them, lose them.
For the things you’re subscribed to and do use, are you getting the best price/value? Go online, or make a phone call today and do some research, you may be surprised what you can save by switching:
- Explore cheaper streaming options instead of satellite or cable TV
- Look for “all-in” fixed-rate cell phone and internet plans
- Negotiate with your current phone, internet and cable providers for better rates – it costs nothing to talk, but the conversation can save you a bundle
TIP: Consider consolidating your phone, Internet and television services with one provider for a potential monthly discount.
E is for Eliminate
How many of us spend inordinate amounts of money on our daily morning coffee and a croissant, or on takeaway lunches while out and about? What about those evenings when we’re too tired to cook at home and opt to dine in a restaurant or go for takeout? Well, those daily croissants, coffee(s) and lunches, plus the weekly “I’m-too-tired-to-cook” dinner outings can often end up eating up a big portion of your weekly budget.
For example, by simply eliminating just one $2 coffee each day for five days can save you $10. Do it for a month and that’s a $40-plus a month savings or $520 a year. If you’re buying a $6 latte, the savings are even greater. You do the math on the rest. You’ll see it can add up to a hefty amount in savings if you cut back.
As you can see, there are strategic steps we can all take to rein in monthly spending which can result in more cash to put towards savings or to pay off credit card or other debt. The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll save.