The small change resolution is a saving money strategy that relies upon making a small change to your lifestyle, that lasts for a full year, and ultimately helps you save money over the long run.
Some people like to find big, bold and cunning ways to save money; others simply like to make minor changes to their everyday life that have a substantial overall impact on their savings.
For instance, if you were wanting to do something bold; you could sell your only car and use public transport instead. If you were more interested in a small change, you could perhaps leave the car at home 50% of the time to reduce running costs by half.
This is why the small change resolution is so powerful. If you make small changes to numerous aspects of your life, the savings you make can be incredible. Especially if you maintain the discipline for 365 days or longer.
Here are some ways to save money by making small but meaningful changes to your everyday spending and overall money psychology.
No more brand names in your weekly shop
Simply stop buying brand names when you do your weekly grocery shop. As consumers, we tend to be creatures of habit, so once we buy something; we never change.
Why not swap a few brand name items each shop for cheaper alternatives? I did this recently when I decided to shop at ALDI for the majority of my everyday items, literally halving my grocery bill overnight and the quality is the same, if not better.
No more interest on your credit card
Stop paying interest on your credit card debt. The daily interest charges on a credit card can be tough.
Opt instead to do a balance transfer and pay 0% interest on your debt for an extended period of time. During this time your goal should be to find ways to repay the debt as fast as possible so that you pop out the other side debt free.
A small change to your credit card provider could yield savings well into the $1000’s over 12 months depending on your balance.
Look to implement one small saving money strategy a month
Other notable strategies include faking a big purchase and saving the money instead, finding ways to make saving a game or simply promising yourself to get started saving money.
The point is to take the time to find new ways to save every day, week or month. Inspire yourself.
No more daily coffees
On average a coffee will cost you $3.50 for a regular sized takeaway. Given that most people work 5 days a week, 48 weeks of the year; that equates to $840 a year. Some days I even buy 2-3 coffees!
A small change to your coffee habits, for instance, drinking coffee at home or the office for free could save you nearly $1000 or more a year. If you need to meet friends opt to go to the park instead of a cafe.
No more spending before midday
Try to avoid spending money before midday. It’s a simple and small savings strategy that tests whether you can avoid spending money prior to lunch time.
Some people opt for no spend months where they try not to outlay money for an entire month beyond the vitals; however, the small change version of this is much easier.
There is no real logic to this beyond creating a little resolution that might help you over the course of a year. It also rules out the morning coffee mentioned above and makes you a little more organised in how you run your day prior to lunch time (bringing your own coffee, not visiting the shops, etc)
No more spending $2 coins
Make a small pledge to never spend a $2 coin, instead opting to save them. Every time you see a $2 coin, put it aside and stash it in your $2 jar at home.
Often I have cracked open a piggy bank after a few months of saving coins and see a plethora of $2 coins that when counted, add up to some serious cash.
No more browsing for items online
Remove the temptation of retailing. It seems people have swapped the old ‘going to the shops’ routine with ‘browsing the shops online’.
If you routinely find yourself buying new clothes and products, try to swap this bad habit of perpetually browsing with doing something productive or useful.
Perhaps use the time to start writing a blog, talk to your family or do chores around the house that will get you organised.
No more buying food and drinks when out and about
We pay a premium to eat and drink outside of our home. This is how cafe owners and restaurants make money.
Pledge to stop buying food and drink when out and about; instead, opt to eat before you leave, eat when you get home or simply stop believing that you must eat the moment you feel hungry.
This small change will stop you paying the retail markups we see in the food industry, often paying over 300% the price it costs to make. Imagine if I offered you a $2 coin, for the small price of $6; is that saving money or wasting money?
Once you leave the house, you only eat what you have brought with your or simply wait until you get home.
No more smoking or drinking (even if just on weekdays)
Make a small change to your bad habits. If you smoke, quit (or cut down) to save money. If you drink during the week; stop and opt to have a glass or two on the weekend at home, rather than at a pub or club.
No more music or video purchases for 365 days
Buying music and entertainment, from the likes of iTunes and Foxtel is increasingly costing us money.
Try to commit to using only what you already have for 365 days. Listen to music you already own, watch movies you have previously bought or opt to borrow content from friends and family.
Another great way to manage this is to join the local library; we did this recently and they have a great range of movies to borrow and books to read. A great way to recover those pesky council rates you pay.
This small change has the potential to save you over $500 a year.
Pledge to make do with existing clothes
Clothes cost a lot of money. Some people buy new clothes frequently, feeling it helps them look good or improve their image; the reality is, you likely already have what you need.
Could you promise yourself to make a small change and not buy new clothes (beyond emergencies) for an entire year?
Tell yourself this; “I don’t need a new pair of jeans because the others look worn. I don’t need a couple of summer dresses bought because the weather has turned warm. I have all those things already in my closet. For one year, I commit to only buying new clothes in the case of emergency or when an item actually disintegrates from use”.
Declutter one thing, per day for a year
Challenge yourself to find one thing in your home that you no longer need. As previously discussed, clutter costs money. Not just storing it and using it, but quite simply because it is money tied up in household items that you are not using.
Try to make a small but steady step towards owning less.