You're standing in line at Starbucks and purposefully not thinking about how many times you've paid for overpriced coffee this week. Next, you're wandering the aisles of the grocery store trying to remember what you came here to buy, resulting in one armful of useless condiments and two more armfuls of snacks. Finally, you're checking out and flipping through your credit cards and debit cards, randomly deciding which one to use to pay, before finally selecting one.
If that remotely sounds like you, then you're doing everything wrong. Luckily, with very simple, basic revisions of your daily habits and routines, you can stop wasting money and see your savings grow. Mind you, you should also be making monthly (or even weekly, for overachievers) budgets to track your spending, but if you're not quite ready for that... Then get your act together and stop making money-wasting mistakes!
1. Invest in a coffee maker
Yes, it seems like it will take so much more time in the morning to brew your own coffee. To put it kindly, you're wrong. Depending on which coffee maker you invest in, you can habituate yourself to set the timer to brew in the morning as part of your bedtime ritual, or you can take the few minutes in the morning to relax and think about your day. No matter what you decide, it's better than spending $5 on coffee every other week day.
2. Make grocery lists
A quick trip to the grocery store or convenience store every time you run out of something means that those spur of the moment purchases add up over time. Keep a running list on your phone of household items or groceries that you're running out of and plan one major trip during the week to stock up on everything. Having a shopping list not only keeps you accountable while you're shopping so you don't buy items on a whim, but it also serves as a rudimentary budget (i.e. stop buying energy drinks and Cheetos, you're a grown adult!).
3. Schedule transfers into your savings account
First, if you don't have a savings account, open one! It's incredibly simple to use your bank's mobile app to schedule regular transfers from your checking account into your savings. Setting up automatic transfers allows you to steadily save a portion of your paycheck without having to remember or stress about doing it. It's a small easy setting that can save up tremendously over time. (Ideally, open a savings account that has compounded daily interest, because Cartman's mom says so).
4. Find dupes for your favorite item(s)
This doesn't have to apply across the board; substituting just one of your pricey must-have items can save a significant amount of money over time. Whether you're a sucker for expensive cheeses or your craving for prosciutto is too big for you to curb, start with making one sacrifice with a cheaper substitution. As the savings grow, so does your incentive to make more cuts. Ultimately, it will make occasional indulgences even better.
5. Treat Yourself–Rarely
An easy trick to develop good spending habits is to allow yourself that $5 cup of coffee or that expensive soft cheese as a rare reward for keeping your spending low–but only if you've stuck to your goals. You obviously don't want to blow everything you've saved on this one extravagance, but keeping your goals and rewards small and realistic creates easy and positive reinforcement to be smarter with your money.