How to spend less + make progress in your finances

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m a recovering shopaholic.

After graduating college and one job change, I found myself in a job that paid us weekly. Is that the best thing ever or what!? Money was coming in weekly. I wasn’t rich in any sense, but I felt like I was and I certainly spent like I was. Amazon orders and other online shopping boxes showed up at the apartment at least weekly. I didn’t keep a budget. I just spent what I wanted until I literally couldn’t spend anymore.

I had my wake up call when I had to ask my parents for money because I didn’t think I could make the next bill. My parents are gracious and loving, so they didn’t think twice about helping me, but I was a grown, college educated, employed woman who needed help from her parents because she wasn’t handling her money well.

If you are in that place, no judgement at all. I’ve been there, but you don’t have to stay there. Please, learn from my mistakes.

It’s really hard to make progress in our finances when there’s no extra money left over at the end of the month. Maybe you have debt payoff or savings goals — those can’t be met without excess money to go towards it.

One solution: spend less.

Another solution: earn more.

Best case scenario is to do both simultaneously, but if you have to choose just one for now, choose to spend less. You may think that’s impossible. Keep reading because I’m giving you TWELVE tips that I have personally used to get out of debt and save more than I ever thought was possible for me. And I still use these tips. Are you ready to start making progress on your financial goals!? These are in no specific order except for #1…

#1: Budget + Track Spending

If you do nothing else, do this. Budgeting and tracking makes the biggest difference because you’re being mindful of where your money is going. And now that you’re paying attention, you’ll be more wise with it. You may even feel like you’ve gotten a raise! Once those numbers are written down, you can make the choices about where your next dollar will go. “Is it worth going out to eat when I have food at home instead of putting this $30 towards my goal?” That’s up to you.

#2: Utilize a wish list

My husband and I follow Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, so this is something I started doing once our debt was paid off and we had fun money to spend again. I made a note in my phone called “Wishes” and anytime I thought of something I wanted, I’d add it to that list. This gave me the space to really consider if I wanted/needed that item — many times the want for it would fade. I do the same with my Amazon Wish List. I don’t need to buy everything immediately when I want it. Impulse purchase cure.

#3: Don’t kill time in stores

This may seem obvious, but I would still do it. I would use Target or HomeGoods as a way to kill time during my lunch break or waiting for an appointment. We both know you never walk out of those stores empty handed. So, stop flirting with the temptation!

#4: Create + stick to a shopping list

Again, seems obvious, but I used to grocery shop without a list. That was dreadful because I would forget something and purchase way more than I needed. Now I go into stores with a purpose.

#5: Utilize reusable products

What kind of things do you buy often that you could switch out for something reusable? It’s probably the little things, but those add up. I love using straws for my drinks, but I hated having to buy them every month. I also hated the extra waste (#savetheturtles), so I spent $7 on Amazon for 4 stainless steel straws that will last me forever! I bought some magical microfiber cloths to clean my surfaces instead of having to use paper towels and cleaning supplies. It may cost a little more upfront, but it’ll help both your wallet and the planet in the long run.

#6: DIY

This can be applied to any area of your life. Instead of purchasing something, can you make it/do it yourself for free or cheaper? The first example that comes to mind is fruit/veggie cleaner. Instead of purchasing a $15 bottle, I make my own with products already in my kitchen. Another recent example: a tree fell in our backyard a few weeks ago during Hurricane Florence. We could have spent almost $5,000 to have a company remove it, but we decided to get a little help and do it ourselves. It costed us an afternoon — worth it.

#7: Declutter

If you want to change your life and your finances, decluttering is a must! You probably don’t realize the amount of stuff you already have. Why else would you buy 7 of essentially the same black t-shirt?? When you declutter, you will find things you forgot you had that are actually useful to you and you’ll see the things you do have (that you won’t need to purchase). Plus you won’t get suckered into buying all those fun organizational tools. You don’t need em if you don’t have so much crap.

#8: Meal plan + prep

Another one of those things that will take some time and energy upfront, but will save you so much! Meal plan, make your grocery list based on that plan/what you already have, grocery shop, then prep it. This simple rhythm will make your weeks smoother and more enjoyable. You won’t waste food because you’re buying what you need and using it, you won’t eat out as much, and you’ll eat healthier. All around winning!

#9: Get creative with dates

Spouse dates, friend dates — think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be dinner at a restaurant to be meaningful. Go for a walk. Cook dinner at home. Bring over a bottle of wine to your girlfriend’s house and catch up on their comfy couch. Have a movie night. There are many ways to spend time together that are free or super affordable.

#10: Be resourceful

Use the things you already have. I haven’t bought gift wrapping in years except for maybe a few times for wedding gifts. In a large bin I keep gift wrapping (bags, tissue paper, gift card holders, etc) that I’ve been given and use them for gifting others. I remove the labeling and clean out glass jars from candles, cooking supplies, sauces to use for storage. I check out books from my local library instead of buying every one I want to read. Little things add up.

#11: Simplify

Along the lines of decluttering, simplify your space, your schedule, your life. You don’t have to say yes to every event or get together. You don’t have to decorate for every single holiday and season. You don’t have to fill up your walls and counters with home decor. It’s okay to remove things from your plate.

#12: Contentment

Once I started being grateful for the things I already had, something in my heart shifted. As Rachel Cruze says, “live your life, not theirs.” You gotta do what’s best for you. Things will not make you happy. Doing more will not make you happy. Joy comes from within and I believe that starts with being content with your life.

Lets be free from the mindset that we must spend money to be meaningful, to have fun, to display our value. Money is a powerful tool, but when we use it mindlessly we hurt ourselves and others. You get to choose how you spend it. How you spent it demonstrates your priorities.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
-Matthew 6:19-21

In October, I want to challenge myself specifically in the area of contentment. I’ll be sharing all the details about this Contentment Challenge in an upcoming post, but if this sounds like something you want to grow in, stick around. I would love to do this with others!

Will you be using any of these tips? Share your favorite below ❤


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