Probably the most important step toward saving money is making the decision to focus on your spending habits. We frequently over spend when we are in a hurry and don’t have time to plan. If you are serious about saving money slow down, get organized and devote some time to making a plan. You can save a tremendous amount of money if you think about what you really need, make a list, compare prices and avoid impulse purchases.
Start by reviewing your spending habits over the last year. Calculate what you have been spending in relation to your income. You may discover a gap in what you thought you were spending and the amount of money left at the end of the month. It may be helpful to keep a spending diary for about a month to see where all that money is going. Review your spending over the past year for obvious problem areas. It is common for many people over spend on eating out, clothing, electronic toys and tools.
You may be very good at setting a budget and tracking your expenses. However, if this approach is too time consuming for your busy lifestyle, consider what we call creative budgeting. Focus on one or two problem areas and develop creative ways to reduce spending in these areas. For example, if you have a tendency to over spend on eating out, think of some creative ways to reduce spending in this area. Some creative ideas may include preparing breakfast and lunch at home the night before and taking it to work with you. When you are preparing a meal, make extra to freeze or eat for lunch the next day. If you enjoy going out with friends, consider eating something before you leave and then eat something small like a side salad or cup of soup when you meet your friends. Instead of going to expensive restaurants, organize a potluck dinner or start a gourmet club and rotate going to one another’s home. Restaurants generally provide very large portions. Consider taking half of your meal home, to be eaten later, or share a meal with a friend. You can also save money by meeting at someone’s home for appetizers, desert or drinks before or after dinner. There are many ways to reduce money on eating out that may result in more enjoyment, better food and less calories.
Continue working on fun and creative ways to reduce spending in your initial target area. The key is to substitute what you are giving up with something equally or more satisfying and less expensive. Once you feel comfortable with your level of spending in this area, identify another place where your spending could be reduced. After going through this process a few times you should become more focused on where you are spending money and your spending should be better aligned with your goal