What I Do That Makes the Biggest Difference With Money
There are probably hundreds of thousands of tips, tricks, and ways to save money. Many of which I've had to wade my way through over the years. Each tip or technique I tried did some good, but I'm going to tell you the ones helping me the most to this day.
Simple Techniques Big Differences
My first suggestion is in the art of delayed gratification. It took a while to get used to it, but it made a world of a difference. When I stopped needing to have that thing or service or what have you instantly, I found I had more money to work with. What I ended up doing was adding it to my 'cart' or writing down what it is I wanted, then leaving. Simple I know. It works wonders. I find I end up not spending money I didn't want to spend. Sales, coupons, and incentives drew me in but it wasn't something I really needed or wanted, so when I left it there. I saved the money they were trying to get me to spend.
I know it seems too easy, but its a tip from yesteryear around to this day. It really does change the game. It's now a patience game. While at times, I wish I would have bought it when it was on sale or I had a coupon. About 90% of the time, I'm glad I didn't spend the money. Usually, because I realized I had something I needed more than the trinket, extra clothes, or whatever item it was. Sometimes I was just window shopping and felt like I had to buy whatever product it was, or I was obligated. I promise you. In no way are you obligated. When I realized this fact, I certainly felt a whole lot better about walking away. I'm not hurting anyone's feelings. I have an obligation to myself, my family and friends, not to the businesses to spend my money. I won't be guilt-tripped into spending what I have. Neither should you.
Lists, Lists, and More Lists
I know it seems utterly redundant. It's a thought I've had too. Making a list doesn't seem important at all. It is. I'll tell you why. When you create a list, you see what you need. When you go to the store, the list makes it so much easier to see what we need rather than guessing. It literally takes the guess work out of shopping.
What I do is keep a magnet list on the fridge, I write down products as we use the last one. I've recently started even writing the price down with it. By seeing exactly what I'm spending I have more time to think if I really need the item or not. What stores count on is your lack of time. When you stop and think, most of the time, you realize you really didn't need the item you thought you wanted.
Lists take the guess work out, yes, but it also allows you to create a stragedy. You can approach grocery shopping with a better idea of what you need, want, and what kind of splurge you want.
This brings us to the next piece. Listing it out didn't work for me in the beginning. I hated it. After I took time to sit and think, I figured out I felt confined or like I wasn't getting nice things. The list was making it so I felt worse. My simple technique to fix this was simple by adding a splurge item on there, or allowing myself a splurge item when I got to the store. Something small but none the less valuable because it helped me use the list.
The next, or first I should say, list to make was my weekly menu. When I started planning more meals, even slow cooker meals, I was able to foresee a whole lot better than guessing what I was going to make for the week. A weekly menu, or even monthly if you feel up to it, can make a big difference. I could project what I need. See what I have. Then, I could write up what I needed from the store. With this, I didn't have to go to the store as often. I could buy only what I needed, plus my splurge item or two. It saved me so much money by taking the guess work out of groceries.
Don't Ignore It
Maybe my last but most crucial point is actually looking at your finances. There have been so many people I've talked to who said they couldn't get a handle on their finances, but wouldn't even look! It was shocking to me to say the least.
I'm one of those people who try to have a firm iron handed grip on their finances. No penny gets spent without being counted. Not that I wouldn't spend the money. I just am aware of everything coming in the door and going out. By being aware, I was able to tell if I could really afford that item or if I should wait until later, if I wanted it then.
There are a lot of free and simple to use resources which automatically update your accounts in their systems so you can see and monitor without much work on your part. If I had to do it all myself, I guarentee you I wouldn't be able to as well as I do. It would take a long time and I'd get so sick and tired of it. With the free resources, I find myself doing a whole lot better in monitoring my financial health.
Try a few services and see if any stick out to you, or work better for you than others. I could list out all the different services I've tried, but what works for me may not work for you. I have different needs than others. Other's have different needs than each other. Our individual needs are different. We all have different situations. The best thing to do is go and look out at there. If you need a place to start, try Mint. It's a terrific service with automatic updates. I've always returned to this one personally.
In The End
With these techniques, I've found myself doing a whole lot better financially than I was before. I've planned, listed what I needed, then purchased what I had to. By waiting, thinking and strategizing, I've been able to save my money for things I really wanted to do. Like going out to a national park with my son. Going on vacation.
With whatever your goals are, armed with these techniques, your finances are going to be so much healthier. You are going to be so much happier having a handle on your money. It's only you who determines where it all goes. Choose for you, your family, and things will go much better. Good luck!