If you could share just one money-saving or budgeting tip, what would it be? After recently polling the internet, here are the top-voted tips.
1. Track Your Expenses
Someone exclaimed, “Keep track of everything you spend, from pricy to cheap. Then, add it all up at the end of the month. It’s scary how much unnecessary spending goes on!”
“Agreed! Mine was to dedicate 30 minutes at the end of the month to look at Mint and your spending categories. I use Mint to input data into my monthly spending spreadsheet, and I think about how it’ll feel to update it when I make an unnecessary purchase,” replied another.
2. Budget Realistically
““Budget realistically. If you give yourself unreasonable goals, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Instead, base your budget on your previous spending and try to improve slowly but surely. “No Spend November can be a fun challenge, but it’s not sustainable,” replied one.
3. Frame Expenses
“I frame expenses, especially wants, in terms of time. For example, this game/clothing item/electronic device is the equivalent of X hours/days of work – is it worth it to me? Especially when I think about it from a post-tax and deduction standpoint, it helps put things in more perspective,” answered another.
4. Thrift Store Shopping
“If you’re in a shopping mood, go to a thrift shop! Sometimes I want a new item, and that itch can be scratched with a $5 skirt or an $8 dish rather than spending more money at a regular shop,” someone suggested.
“Bonus, there often aren’t that many items you want, so it stops you from buying up the whole shop, and secondly, items are often good quality and will last longer than getting something from Target.”
5. Living Below Your Means
“I live in a small apartment that hasn’t been updated since 1970, and I drive an old car. I don’t make much money, and I’m not particularly spendy in other areas, but I could be easily spending $700 or $800 more in fixed costs if I rented and drove what I could afford.”
“A few times a year, I get the bug to move into a sweeter apartment, but instead, I spend a few hundred bucks on a new rug or jazzy wallpaper or new sheets,” one stated.
6. Stay Home
“Leave the house less and make the most of what you have. Whenever I leave the house, I spend at least $100 on groceries, fuel, toiletries, whatever. It’s relentless, and it sucks,” shared one. A second added, “I will sit in the car before stepping inside Target and make a list of what I’m allowed to buy.”
“Even if I see something else that I want and is on sale, I still won’t allow myself to buy it, just off principle. Years and years of dropping $120 on target trips where only $35 worth of items were necessary – have scarred me.”
7. Pay Yourself First
“I pay myself first,” confessed one. “Before any fun money is spent, I’m throwing cash into my savings fund. Set it up on auto-payment and enjoy.” Another said, “I agree with this and know the advice is to set up automatic transfers.”
“But I love making the manual transfer – it is the first thing I do on payday and something I look forward to, so I don’t think I’ll ever set up automatic transfers.”
8. Manage Emails
One person exclaimed, “Unsubscribe from marketing emails! It’s a quick and simple way to stop being spammed with advertisements in your inbox.” Another agreed, “This is a GREAT tip.”
Finally, a third said, “Or use a spam email account for any purchases you make so that the marketing emails go to that account instead of the account you use for everything else. No more impulse shopping when “deals” come through in your email.”
9. Keeping a List for a Month
“I made myself start waiting a month and keeping a list. It led to more conscious spending. Even when I thought I needed stuff, I don’t like buying a lot at once. So I put thought into the purchases on the list, and after a month, I have a great idea about what a good price is, how badly I need it, and less guilt when I make the purchase.”
Another agreed, “This way of shopping has changed my spending habits, and I realized how much I don’t need certain things. The best advice if you are a shopaholic.”
10. Meal Planning
Meal planning! Pre-COVID, my husband and I never planned meals. He would get lunch at the cafeteria at work, and I would eat snacks or walk to the nearest fast food place by my office. One of us would call or text the other on the way home from work with the dreaded what’s for dinner question, which meant we would hit the store almost nightly.”
“It also meant we bought things we already had at home. For example, when we moved two years ago, I found SIX jars of dried basil! We were also going out to eat a lot. When the lockdowns happened, going to the store every day wasn’t advised or safe, so I started planning our meals and what we could reuse for multiple meals.”
“We would spend so much less on food when I would check what we already had first and make a list. We also stopped needing to grab takeout as much. But the habit stuck, and I’ll never go back to how it was before.”