We’ve put together a list of 18 sure-fire ways for you to spend less money, so you can put more in to repaying your credit card balance.
It’s often said that those with money have it because they don’t spend it. Most people wish they could figure out how those with bursting bank balances have the self-control, because even when they have a little extra cash it burns a hole in their pocket. At the end of every month they wonder where their wages have gone. The answer is generally staring them right in the face, they just can’t see it. So, if you’re one of those people who is often perplexed at the end of the month, read on to find ways you can spend less, yet have more. To repay your credit card faster you can either earn more money, or spend less. This article goes in to some simple things you can implement in your life, that will help you free up cash that you can then immediately use to repay your credit card.
1. Budget, Budget, Budget
Boring, we know, but this tried and tested little bug bear works. It is difficult if you’ve never drawn up a budget before, but once you have all you need to do is keep amending it over the years. Once you have one sorted, stick to it as much as you can. It may take a few attempts to settle on one that works for you, but when you do, be disciplined and determined to follow it. You should compare your income with your expenses, and always spend less money than you earn. 3 simple and incredibly useful budgeting resources:
- 9 Step Beginners Budget – Consumerist
- 10 Ways to Simplify your Budget – Zen Habits
- Money 101 – Making a Budget – CNN Money
2. Track Your Spending
You need to make sure your money is used the way you intend it to be used. By tracking your spending, you can know where your money is going and can modify your habits. There are a number of online budgeting tools that may help monitor your spending. They are generally very easy to use, and can really help open your eyes as to how you are using your money. Be aware that some may ask for your bank details, including passwords to access your accounts so they can use their tools. Avoid any businesses asking for your personal passwords. 3 simple and incredibly useful resources to help you track your spending:
- ShoeBoxed – send your receipts by pre-paid envelope, email, mobile phone and they scan and organise them for you!
- Track your spending with Gmail and Docs – Lifehacker
- Where’s it all Going? Find out online – The NY Times
3. Ditch the Cards
Try to get into the habit of using cash only. Withdraw a set amount of money every week and don’t be tempted to use your credit cards for anything, that way you’ll be sure to stick to your budget. If you feel tempted to use your card, ask yourself if you really need the purchase. If you convince yourself you do (even though you don’t really – we’ve all done it), then remember you will never be able to get what you really want further down the line. Check out our guide: Balance Transfer Guide – our comprehensive guide to balance transfers and using them for card consolidation
4. Organise Your Debts
You need to come up with a plan to get your debts paid off. When you’re planning your budget, include the money you will use to pay your credit cards and other loans. If you’re knee deep in debt you might need to contact your creditors and negotiate. Know exactly how much you owe on your debts and pay off your higher interest rate credit cards first, and then go from there. You need to make sure that all payments are made on time.
5. Save A Little
When you plan your budget, you need to always include your intended savings, too. Even a little money each week or payday can add up, and you need to make saving that little extra a priority. If you have some additional money put away then when emergency expenses arise you will not have to put it on the credit card. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, you should always put some away. Once you’ve converted to this way of thinking it will be much easier to do. Resources to help you start saving:
- Top 10 Ways to Trick Yourself into Saving Money* - Lifehacker
- Savings Account Finder – if you’re going to start saving, you’ll need a good high interest savings account.
- Extreme-Savers Share their Secrets – Yahoo! Finance
- 25 Gadgets That Actually Save Money – The Simple Dollar
6. Cut the Luxuries
This takes a lot of discipline, but it can be done. Look at the things you’re buying regularly, then see what you can do without. You may choose to rent a DVD instead of going to the movies; watch TV instead of getting DVDs; stop your magazine subscriptions or make your own coffee instead of going to Starbucks every morning. Articles worth checking out:
- Cheap alternatives to the “Must Haves” in your Life – MintLife
- Consumers cut back on luxury spending – According to recent stats released by the ABS, Connected Australia has identified that Aussies are getting this the message to spend less!
7. Avoid Buying in Bulk
It might seem like you are saving money when you buy in bulk, but you will actually be spending more. Retailers lead you to believe that you are saving money by opting for the two-for-one offers etc. However, you inadvertently spend more when you don’t need to be. You may not even use all the produce. Resource to help you stop your bulk-buying habits: Best Stuff NOT to Buy in Bulk – MainStreet (MSN Money has also syndicated the article, a bit easier to read!)
8. Make a List
Before you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. You should only ever buy what you need. It’s all too easy to buy on impulse, especially the way most shops are set up. Don’t be enticed by the offers and merchandising, instead remember why you’re choosing to spend less. Helpful resources:
- GroceryWiz – an online website helping you create shopping lists and incorporate coupons to save you more money
- 5 Printable Shopping List Websites – MakeUseOf.com
- Grocery List Applications for the iPhone – MacWorld (here’s a Grocery Shopping List app for Android)
9. Grow Your Own Food
The price of fruit and vegetables seems to keep increasing, so in order to save money why not start your own veggie garden? Plant the foods that you buy the most and grow them yourself. You don’t necessarily have to have a garden; there are various planting boxes available for small spaces. You’ll also be content in the knowledge that what you’re eating is totally devoid of pesticides and hormones, found all too readily in most store-bought fruit and veg. Helpful Resources:
10. Do More Yourself
If you have a cleaner or gardener, it’s time to get down with the commoners and do the tasks yourself. If you normally buy lots of ready-made meals, try more home cooking. It will be more nutritious – by a long shot – and you’ll be able to plan your meals better. Cooking lasagnes, casseroles or stews allows you to freeze meals for later in the week. You could also use the wonderful web to figure out how to do things around the home instead of hiring a handy man. File your own taxes, wash your own car… the list goes on. Helpful Resources:
- DIY: Do it Yourself or Not – list of various home improvement projects and their relevant costs
- Top 24 Food Bloggers* - a great start if you’re looking for inspiration to start cooking at home!
11. Buy from Second-hand Stores
Shopping at second-hand stores doesn’t mean that you are not getting quality products. In fact, more often than not, most second-hand shops will carry designer and brand names, and if you’re lucky you may happen upon some items that have never been used and still have the price tag on them. Wearing second-hand clothing (or vintage, as it’s now tagged as) is fast becoming fashionable. And it’s not just clothes you can buy either; books, sports equipment, furniture is all in demand. Just avoid the antique stores: wait until you’ve saved a few bob before you frequent those establishments! Helpful Resource to make buying from second-hand stores a little easier:
12. Go Out Less
There’s no question, eating out and socialising is fun. It’s the reason most people work in the first place: to fund their social life, so having to stay in might seem like a big ask. Just remember, you only need to cut down on the amount of times you go out per week. Yes, eating out or getting a take away seems like an easy option after a long day at work, but it really is a major drain on the bank balance. If you’re good and track your spending you will realise how much you save when you cut down on the dinners and the drinking sessions. Check out this article: Top 10 Stay-Home Date Ideas* – AskMen.com
13. Avoid Your Wealthy Mates
While it may be lovely to hang around with your rich buddies, they will inevitably make you spend more money. Of course they don’t do it intentionally, but you may often feel obliged to eat or drink where they choose. Sure it’s a nice life, but it’s somebody else’s. If they’re good enough mates, tell them you’re trying your hardest to save and get them to meet you half way.
14. Join the Library
If you like to read books or magazines, go to the local library and sign up. Books, magazines and DVDs can be expensive, but they are free at the library. Many libraries even have online sites where you can recheck a book out if you are not finished with it. You can also get Internet access at most libraries, so if you were really determined about saving money you could cut your home Internet bills, too.
You may enjoy driving your finest car, or like the status of having a membership at the local golf club, but are they really necessary? A less expensive car will still get you to the places that you need to go, and you could make some money by selling your golf clubs if they’re going to sit gathering dust. Downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean moving into a hovel, either. If you are living in a property that is way bigger than your needs, you could refinance considerably by moving to a smaller home.
16. Walk More
Fuel prices are rising and the cost of using public transportation is increasing, therefore, why not get where you can the old fashioned way, with your own two feet? You could walk to the supermarket or the bank, or to work, if it doesn’t take too long. Once you get into the habit of it you’ll want to walk more. It will also have the advantage of saving wear and tear on your car, and help you get fit, too. Check out this article: Walking Tracks in Australia – Australia.com
17. Start Freecycling
As the old saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Freecycling means you can get rid of your unwanted possessions, in exchange for someone else’s. You can freecycle pretty much anything, including baby items, books, furniture or electronic equipment. There are many online forums where you can advertise things that you no longer want, getting something in return. This not only saves you money, but goes towards doing your but for the environment, too. Check it out: FreeCycle.org makes it incredibly easy for you to find free stuff in a town near you!
18. Revamp Your Utilities
Take a look at all of your utility bills, then shop around to see if you can find a better deal. You need to look at each company in turn: electric, gas, cable, and see if there are any deals where you can snowball your utilities, getting one company that will service all, or at least a few. Phone companies often have deals with cable, but can be expensive so opt for freeview instead. If you have a mobile, as most people do these days, decide whether you really need a land line, too. You could save yourself a bundle. The economy today makes it difficult to live the life you desire. However, if you spend less and save more you will get through the tough financial times, and then you can do the things you dream of in the future. Spending less is possible, but only with self-control and discipline. Once you get into the habit of being frugal with your finances, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save.
What ideas do you have to spend less? We would love to hear from you in the comments
If you have some brilliant ideas and principles you rely on to save you money, we’d love to hear from you. Share your ideas in the comments below for all our readers to benefit from.