Are you trying to save money to pay off debt? Build up your emergency fund? Or start a retirement account? Whatever your reason is, it can feel very overwhelming especially if saving money hasn’t been your forte.
At least that’s how I felt when I decided it was time to learn how to stop spending money and time for me to get serious about saving money many years ago.
Saving money takes a lot of hard work, creativity, and dedication. But if you’re ready and willing to do what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be, then you’re off to a great start.
There are countless opportunities to save all around you so keep your eyes peeled and have an open mind if you’re serious about saving.
Below are 5 things that have helped me with my journey of saving money and I hope it helps you with yours.
1. Challenge yourself to empty the pantry
Have you ever intentionally tried to use ALL of the food you have in your house?
I’m talking about using the frozen meats that have been in the freezer for who knows how long, using that half stalk of celery that’s just been chilling in the crisper, and finally using those beans sitting in the back of your pantry that you planned on using months ago.
If you’re anything like me, then it’s probably never even crossed your mind. Of course everyone buys things with the intentions of using it; however, it’s easier said than done especially when life gets in the way.
So challenge yourself to empty the pantry. The purpose of this challenge is to plan your meals around the items you currently have in your pantry, fridge, freezer, and countertops. This will force you to actually use the things that you’ve already paid for.
All you have to do is take inventory of everything that you have. Then create meals around those items. If you’re not very creative or just don’t have the brain power to come up with a new recipe from scratch (totally understandable) then hop on Pinterest or Google.
It’s ideal to choose recipes that don’t require any ingredients other than what you already have on hand. However, if you do end up needing to buy a couple of additional ingredients from the store, you should limit it to fresh produce or specific spices you need in order to complete your meal.
Challenging yourself to empty the pantry every few months will help you drastically reduce the amount of food you waste and you’ll definitely spend a whole lot less at the grocery store since you’re planning around the things you already have.
Check out this list of meals you can create from common pantry staples for some inspiration.
2. Buy used
Buying used can help you save some serious cash. If you’ve always bought things brand new then it might take some time to get used to the idea. But I promise that the savings are well worth it.
You can usually buy a used version of almost anything and everything at a fraction of the cost. Baby stuff, books, clothing, furniture, and cars just to name a few. I’ve gotten so many things that are in good or like new condition for half or a third of the cost of buying new (and sometimes even FREE!).
There are a bunch of different places that you can buy used like Facebook resale groups (my favorite way), thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, Freecycle, eBay, and Letgo.
3. Sleep on it
Have you ever seen something at the store, in an ad, or a friend’s house that you all of a sudden decided that you needed? Step away from making that impulse purchase and sleep on it.
Impulse purchases can lead you to buy things that you really didn’t need or even want once you take a step back to think about it.
Give yourself a 2 week cool off period to help you decide if you really truly need it. Most of the time, you’ll either forget, find that you’re able to live without, or have moved on to the next thing that you “have to have”.
4. Make sacrifices
Making sacrifices are difficult but it’s the decisions that we make today that will affect our future.
Going without luxuries like cable or new clothes will help you financially in the long run. Think about all of the luxuries you can give up for a few months or even a year. How much of a positive impact can that have on your financial situation?
You’ll be able to save thousands of dollars to put towards your debt or savings. Either way, thousands of dollars can be life-changing.
Sacrifices are mandatory if you really want to see a difference in your financial situation.
5. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones
This is probably one of the most important things you can do to improve your finances.
Although it’s human nature, you should NEVER compare yourself to others. That will only make you feel bad about yourself, lead to unhappiness, and possibly leave you broke.
Turn thoughts of envy and jealousy into motivation and inspiration to help you reach your goals. Other people’s successes should inspire you to believe that you will one day reach that goal as well.
Related: 11 Super Easy Money Saving Tips
Learning how to stop spending money can take some time. But with some practice, you’ll be able to change your mindset and think differently about money.