It makes sense to review your expenses and see how you can cut costs by minimizing unnecessary spending, so here are some ideas on how you can save money AND the planet.
Simple ways to cut costs:
- Use A/C sparingly and use DRY MODE
- Switch to solar power where you can
- Turn off devices completely, instead of putting them into STAND BY mode
- Introduce penalties when your flat mate, partner or kids fail to switch things off
- Turn lights off when not needed and change to energy-saving bulbs (take them to your new home, but remember to keep and replace the old ones!)
- Try candlelit dinners or a BBQ with your loved one!
- Buy clothes that don’t need ironing. A few wrinkles never killed anyone.
- Go natural with hair – no straightener or dryer – or shave it off altogether!
- Turn your computer off for a few days and go outside
- Have an Earth Hour (60 minutes with no power) every week. It could change your love life!
How to save money
If you are living from paycheck to paycheck and cannot save, it could be that your income is too low or that you spend too much.
Cutting spending isn’t as easy as it sounds because you may not know where you’re overspending, and this may be a long-held habit that is hard to break.
So, here are some suggestions on how to reduce your spending and help you save more.
The following may not help the economy, but it will help you!
Consider your spending habits like a diet. When you go on a diet, one of the things you do is count calories.
By identifying and watching consumption practices, you are less likely to indulge.
The same is true of spending.
If you’re not watching your spending, you don’t know where your money is going, so you end up spending more on multiple small purchases without realizing.
If you track spending, you can find problem areas and be more likely to consider each purchase more carefully.
Tracking spending for at least 30 days is the first step in creating a useful budget and will show you areas where you’ll need to make adjustments.
Tracking spending on an ongoing basis will give you a better grasp of your spending and budgeting practices.
Make a budget
Living on a budget may not be fun but, to get your spending under control, setting limits is a good start.
There are a few different approaches to budgeting, so choose one that works for you.
One option is to allocate each dollar a job.
This requires a detailed budget showing how much you’ll save; how much will go towards fixed expense and how much you have for optional expenses like entertainment.
If this doesn’t work for you, try a simplified 50-30-20 rule.
This budget allocates 50% to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to savings.
This approach works well if you don’t want to get bogged down in detail but will only work if you stick to your 20% savings goal.
Consider cash only
Making a budget is easy, but if you don’t stick to it then it is nothing more than a wish list.
An easy way to force yourself to constrain spending is to switch to spending cash-only at least for a while.
Studies have shown that people tend to spend less when they use cash, because they feel and see their money being spent.
Not only that but, if you don’t use debt, you simply cannot spend above your means.
If you switch to a cash-only system, automate payments to savings and essential expenditure.
Then only spend the cash left over.
Money will go where it needs to and the cash remaining is what you have to spend.
Envelope system approach
An envelope system requires you to literally put the cash you want to spend on different categories of purchases into an envelope.
You may have an envelope for groceries, for instance, which when empty, cannot be spent on anymore.
Apps like ‘Mvelopes’ allow you to use a virtual envelope system which can be as effective as a physical envelope.
Freeze credit cards
Avoiding credit cards can help you get your spending under control.
However, because you need a positive credit history you may wish to keep one on hand.
Sometimes it makes sense to put large purchases on credit cards and, as long as you pay off the balance quickly, you can get rewards and bonuses.
If you want to keep a credit card and you need to cut spending, make sure it isn’t a temptation.
One option is to freeze your card in a block of ice.
By doing this, you will have to wait for the ice to melt before you use your card, giving you time to make you more aware of your purchase.
24-hour rule for purchases
Another good approach is to delay spending.
If you institute a 24-hour rule, you pause for a day before you buy something.
You can set a basic threshold and apply the rule to any purchase over, say $50 or establish a rule that you’ll take a full 24-hour period for each $100.
If you wanted to buy a $300 TV, for example, you would delay the purchase for at least three days.
This rule is effective because it makes it more likely you’ll buy things you really want and gives you time to shop for the best price.
Have no-spend days
Another way to cut spending is simply don’t buy anything at all and have some no-spend days each month or even have an entire no-spend month.
When you have a no-spend day, you buy nothing.
If you try a no-spend month, you commit to not buying anything other than absolute necessities.
No-spend days not only save you money but can help change your long-term mindset.
You’ll break spending habits and present creative solutions to meeting your needs.
Make it a game to save money!
Setting a budget and limiting your spending may not be fun, but creating a saving game may be.
Put each $1 or 5,000 Riels note you get in change in a container.
Soon, you’ll be looking for ways to get each note back to see how full it can become.
Reward yourself with savings milestones and when you hit 10 no-spend days in a month, do something fun and inexpensive to treat yourself.
Or have a how-low-can-we-go contest.
Challenge yourself to find the absolute lowest price for a particular item or have a contest with a friend on who can spend the least on groceries or entertainment for a month.
Avoid shopping when you’re hungry!
If you hit the grocery store on an empty stomach, you end up with multiple impulse items.
In fact, you’re vulnerable to overconsumption if you shop anywhere when you’re hungry.
Research has shown that hungry shoppers spend up to 60% more on non-food products than shoppers who weren’t.
As animals, we tend to acquire more when we are hungry, so it is wiser to break out a credit card only when your belly is full.
Use a shopping list!
To avoid impulse buys, make a list of items you need to purchase and stick to it.
This applies to grocery stores and also when you shop for other things.
If you’re out looking for a pair of shoes and a new belt for work, take a list and don’t be swayed by other things you see along the way.
Keeping a list of big purchases can also help you shop strategically when items go on sale.
Signing up for email offers or catalogs may seem smart when you get coupons or special offers mailed to you, but all promotional offers make you more inclined to buy something.
Eliminate this from your life.
Remove credit cards from online accounts
If you store credit cards on online accounts to make checking out easier, it is best to erase them.
The inconvenience of re-entering information each time you buy something will make it less attractive to make a purchase.
Pressing “buy now” makes it too easy.
The one-in/one-out rule
So you don’t buy unnecessary items, institute a one-in/one-out rule. This means you get rid of one old item for every new item.
If you want a new pair of shoes, then get rid of an old pair.
If you don’t have any old or worn-out shoes, do you really need new ones?
Although this doesn’t work for everything (like food), it works for most everyday purchases.
You can sell or donate items you’re giving away to help defray the cost of the new items, avoid clutter, and limit what you buy with this technique.
Cancel subscriptions to save money
Chances are you have at least one subscription you aren’t getting much value from, like a gym membership, magazine or a streaming service you don’t use.
Go through your credit card statements to find recurring expenses and ask yourself if each one is really worth it.
If you don’t need it, cut it.
Look holistically to cut costs
Many items have ongoing costs to use and maintain.
If you buy a single-cup coffee maker, you have to buy cups that go in them and a car needs insurance, maintenance and repairs.
To ensure a purchase doesn’t commit you to a lifetime of big spending, consider how much it will cost to operate or maintain after you make it.
If you use financing, factor in interest. If you’re not comfortable with the upfront cost and ongoing expenses, skip it or get something cheaper.
You need to think about the total costs for any purchase needing finance.
If you can rent to own a $500 washing machine for $50/month for 24 months for instance, the total cost is $1,200.
Don’t fall for this trick.
To save money, you need to find out how much you’ll pay in total and how long you’ll be making payments before you decide.
Cut costs using a per-use spending limit
For example, you may set your per-use limit at $1.
With each product, consider how many times you’ll use it and divide the price by that number to see if it fits in your per-use limit.
If you want buy a $500 TV that you’ll use daily for the next two years, you’d get 730 uses out of it.
Divide the $500 price by 730 uses to see your per-use cost of $0.68 which is well under your $1 maximum.
A good way to limit spending is to set a per-use limit and calculate how much each item costs per use.
Link spending to save money!
Cutting out spending splurges can backfire and make it impossible to stick to a budget.
Allow yourself the occasional splurge – but set a rule to link the spending with a real goal to save money.
For example, for every $50 impulse purchase, you move $20 into your savings account.
When you do that, spending becomes an opportunity to save money.
Plan free activities to save money
There are plenty of free ways to enjoy yourself, from going to no-cost concerts to taking a walk with a friend.
Instead of scheduling activities that make you spend money, focus on doing free things instead.
The more entertainment that costs you nothing, the less time you’ll have to buy stuff you don’t need.
Enlist an accountability buddy to cut costs!
Sometimes, it can be hard to stay motivated to cut spending, so make a deal with someone so you can support each other in reducing expenditure.
This doesn’t mean chastising each other if you slip up, it goes you someone to report to on progress.
When you know you’re checking in with a friend, you’ll be less likely to break spending limits.
It doesn’t have to be a pain to save money!
We hope that these suggestions on how to cut costs will work for you and help you spend less.
By reducing your outflow and directing more money to financial goals, you’ll be more successful in saving for big things so you can grow your net worth and build real wealth over time.
It’s well worth the effort.