Ways to Turn Spending into Savings
Wealth is built through wise investments over a long period—and savings are the fuel for investment. For most people, there are times when immediate financial needs outstrip the ability to meet them, and getting ahead feels impossible.
At other times a savings account gets ignored because discretionary spending isn’t properly future-oriented. When that pattern occurs, it’s vital to acknowledge that we’re no different than most people—our spending habits have room for improvement. With an open mind and a dose of discipline finding ways to convert spending into savings is easily possible. Here are some places to start:
1. Find Other Distractions Besides Shopping
No one ever bought anything except for one of two reasons—it solved a problem or it made them feel good. It’s far easier to stay on-budget if most of our purchases are about solving a legitimate problem, and the feeling-good factor is minimized. Spending for the purpose of giving ourselves a little temporary reward is more likely to make the household finances go awry. Impulse purchases in particular tend to result from boredom or anxiety management. Look for a different, less expensive diversion.
2. Save Energy Costs
Become more energy-efficient by performing an energy audit. Do it yourself by purchasing a home energy monitor, or ask your local utility, which may offer in-home audits. Consider these cost saving ideas:
- Install a programmable thermostat to regulate home temperatures while you’re out. At your golf academy or studio, make sure all staff members are shutting off the lights and the thermostat when they leave.
- Use a power strip to reduce the electrical use of your instant-on devices by shutting off the strip at bedtime.
- Weather-strip and caulk; install door sweeps to block drafts; close that fireplace damper when not in use.
- Service your heating system for optimal efficiency.
- Service your car to increase gas mileage, including periodic checks on tire pressure.
3. Save on Gym Membership and Other Subscription Costs
Unused memberships are an expensive waste. If you do join, you can reduce membership costs by signing up when there is a special offer. Negotiate to get their best price, or join with a friend and potentially get a discount. Your employer or insurance carrier may subsidize membership costs or offer special affiliated pricing. As for those retail subscriptions and streaming-service costs, statistically they are on the rise and their aggregate costs are piling up for the consumer. Review yours and consider cutting some out.
4. Don’t Keep Cable and Cell Service on Autopilot
Call your provider and negotiate a new rate. Cell providers face stiff competition and are very responsive. Cable companies may be less so, but review your package to ensure that you are not paying for channels you don’t watch. Related question: Do you really need a landline?
5. Track Your Spending
People are often surprised at where their money goes. Try tracking every purchase for the next 30 days and evaluate whether your spending reflects your priorities. Given how few cash purchases most of us make, we can use online banking to scroll through our debit items and separate the reasonable purchases from the ones that make us wince with remorse. Count up the regrettable purchases, then repeat the process a month later to see if you’ve cut down on them.
Keeping to a budget can mean avoiding what economists call “the tyranny of small decisions,” e.g., unwanted financial results that arise from lots of small and seemingly innocent purchases—for example:
- Paying for water. Even just $1.50 a day adds up ($45 a month). And all those plastic bottles hurt the environment.
- Gourmet coffee. Three or four dollars a day may not seem like a lot of money, but it may amount to $60-$90/month
- Eating out. Those $4 breakfasts, $7 lunches and take-out dinners quickly get expensive. Brown bag your lunch and pre-cook some dinners on the weekend—you’ll save money and eat healthier. Pre-scripting a polite no to friends and co-workers who might be inviting you to join them will help.
- Find different ways to meet with friends and potential students that have you enjoying the networking and companionship but don’t cost you an investment into your future.
For additional assistance with your financial planning contact Missie Berteotti at The Hicks Group, a part of Luttner Financial Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-398-5030.
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