#1: Be mindful and focus on the ‘present’ when it comes to saving money
A journey starts but with one step – Chinese proverb
All too often we focus on our desire to save a huge lump sum of cash. While an ambitious and great idea, it can feel unobtainable given it will be months or years until you meet your goal.
Instead, focus on the present moments in your life. Save money on a day to day basis by setting up small but achievable goals and celebrate the victories as you achieve them.
This could include:
- Having a no-spend day.
- Not buying coffee(s) at work and opting for the free instant coffee.
- Driving to a function instead of drinking / catching a cab home.
- Do one task that you know will help you make more money in the long run.
- Halving your lunch costs (by either bringing from home or eating something cheaper).
Small changes can make a big difference, not necessarily to the amount of money you end up saving – but because it inspires you to keep going and persist which in turn compounds your efforts and sees you save more money.
A great example of this in practice is the advice the military gives new recruits. They teach them to make their bed within seconds of hopping out of bed. Why? Because it means that you start your day by accomplishing but one thing that will help you get organised. It’s a trick to get the brain ready to accomplish bigger and greater things in the day ahead. Try this, it helps my motivation greatly.
#2: Understand the spending money doesn’t make you feel better
In fact, it might just do the opposite
Our brain is wired to get a hit of dopamine each time we spend money. Dopamine is the chemical released that makes us feel happy. Research has shown that spending money induces this chemical upon making a purchase, giving a short term feeling of happiness. Unfortunately, research has also shown that the feeling is short lived and actually results in unhappy feelings not long after (whether it be due to spend guilt or future cash flow issues that cause anxiety).
Get some self-control and question whether or not you truly need something. Only buy things you honestly need in your life. You can do this by opting to delay a purchase by 24 hours while you ‘think it over’.
#3: Disrupt yourself by changing your routine
Make a change to your usual plans
Often, we spend our money in similar ways month to month. Look for patterns in your budgeting and identify the days of week, times of day and situations that lead you to spend money.
For instance, if you realise that each Friday you go out to lunch with work people, resulting in a pub lunch at $30 – bring your own lunch on that day to disrupt your usual pattern.
The act of disrupting yourself will enforce your desire to save money. It may feel off, though the dopamine hit you will get later that night when you look back on your accomplishment will be significant.
This could even involve planning to go for a walk on the weekend (instead of visiting the shops) or simply tackling a cleaning and organisation job in your house to stay occupied. Find things to do that you don’t often do and use them to disrupt your usual routines that cost you money.
#4: Is it bad for your health? It’s likely bad for your wallet also
Your financial well-being is directly impacted by your physical health
Junk food, alcohol, excessive caffeine, going out for dinner, smoking and more. These are vices that we know are not good for our health, yet we continue to do so. List these vices out and estimate how much they cost you. You will quickly realise that not only is your health at risk, but so are your finances.
Quit one of these (or all of these) and feel healthier – physically, mentally and financially. A super quick way to stop spending money and immediately realise a hefty sum of savings.
#5: If you must spend money, shop around – the internet is your money saving friend
A few minutes of your time = big savings
Sometimes I hate myself. I go to shops with the intention to buy a specific item that I truly need and instead of buying the item and being done with it, I always have to check the internet for a cheaper price.
This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good in that I often find a cheaper price after a little bit of searching; and bad in that I am undervaluing my own time and suffering the feeling of indecision.
Next time you see something in a store you like – search for it online. Search second hand sites like Gumtree or eBay or look for an online-only retailer that will happily undercut the bricks and mortar store.