Lots of us track our spending. Tracking your spending is one of those foundational personal finance habits. It’s not something that comes naturally. This is a habit that requires work. Sure… you can reach your financial goals without tracking your spending, but it makes it harder, and why would you make things harder?
Tracking your spending doesn’t have to be difficult. At PlanEasy.ca all of our clients, including myself, use a simple online form to track our spending. Make a purchase, pull up the form, enter the amount and the category and hit submit. Easy.
All that data gets put in a neat little summary. It shows you the typical things like spending month-to-date, spend vs budget, total spend, etc.
But one of the neat things we included in our summary is how many transactions you make. How many transactions you’ve made over the last 30 days. The average number of transactions per day. How many “no spend” days you’ve had and your longest “no spend” streak.
I’m a firm believer that a lot of our spending is driven out of habit. You walk by a certain store, coffee shop, restaurant and out of habit you go in and you buy something.
Spending habits are easy to form. There is a clear “cue, routine, reward” cycle. The cues are everywhere in the form of advertising, marketing, sales, promotions, etc. The routine is simple, pull out your credit card and buy something. The reward is that immediate satisfaction you get from your purchase. It’s addictive.
Spending habits are hard to break. The way to break them is not by tracking how much money you spend, it’s by tracking how many times you spend money. It’s by tracking how many transactions you make each month, week, or day.
The more transactions you make, the more you reinforce your spending habits, and the harder they are to break.
Instead of focusing on how much you spend, try focusing on the number of transactions you make. Try to go for “no spend” streaks of 2, 3, 4, 5+ days in a row, or try going cold turkey and do a no spend month!
As you start to reduce the number of transactions you’ll also start to break those spending habits and you’re definitely going to be spending less each month.
Saving money is a very personal thing. Everyone values things differently. You and I each have our own personal values. What we like. What we dislike. Even if we have the same income and live in the same area we’re still going to have very unique budgets because we value things differently.
Take me for example. I value time and freedom. I value time with my family and friends. I value the freedom to choose how I spend my time. I value these things more than other things and I’m willing to make sacrifices to give me more time and freedom.
My budget reflects what I value. I save money on things that I don’t value and I spend money on things that I do. Some things I choose to save money on might seem crazy to you, or it might seem normal, it all depends on what you value.
I’m going to share with you five crazy things that I like to do to save money. Depending on what you value, you might I’m absolutely insane, or you may think I’m completely normal.
What crazy ways do you save money? What do you value? Make a comment at the end of the post.
In this post we’re talking about extreme ways to save money. We are NOT talking about reusing your paper towels, or squeezing ketchup packs back into the bottle. That’s might save money, but that’s not extreme enough.
What we’re talking about here is extreme frugality. The level of frugality that allows you to live off half your income of less. Frugal living like this doesn’t come easy.
If you want to save big you have to go extreme.
These extreme ways to save money will require a little more commitment and determination than squeezing ketchup packs back into the bottle.
These aren’t easy ways to save money. Oh no. These three ways to save money require some serious lifestyle changes but if you can do them you’ll be on your way to living on just a fraction of a regular household’s budget.
The average person makes anywhere from 100 to 200+ transactions per month. It’s unlikely that the average person can recall each and every transaction they’ve made over the last month (heck, sometimes I can’t even remember what I DID yesterday let alone what I spent money on).
Having a short memory makes us terrible at understanding our spending habits. Some people are natural budgeters, they can recall perfectly what they spend their money on. But for the majority of us, we need to track our spending to understand where our money is going.
Tracking your spending doesn’t have to be difficult. With the help of technology it can be super easy. Even going old school with pen & paper isn’t that difficult.
Tracking your spending is the only real way to understand your spending habits and make changes.
Saving money is the cornerstone of a good financial plan. Without a healthy savings rate there isn’t really a way to achieve your other financial goals.
Getting to a healthy savings rate can be a real challenge though. There are so many demands on our cash. Money comes in and goes out so quickly that it can be hard to put some aside.
One awesome trick to help you save money is the 52 week challenge. This is a simple but effective way to get into a saving habit. If you’re struggling with how to start saving money, then this could be the solution.
There are many variations of the 52 week challenge out there but this is my personal favorite…
Find yourself going over budget? Always making impulse purchases? Do you know what the problem might be?
You’re probably thinking… “What the heck is ego depletion?”
Ego depletion is a psychology concept. When we make lots of decisions or are under a lot of stress, our brain gets tired, our self control starts to loosen, and we start to make impulsive decisions. These impulsive decisions can be a real budget killer.
This doesn’t necessarily impact spending. Ego depletion can cause you to stray from your diet, your exercise routine, or…
Avoiding ego depletion is the BEST way to save more money because it lets you avoid all those extra purchases that really kill your budget.