6 Bulletproof Ways to Cut Your Budget
If you've spent any amount of time reading literature on the subject of personal finance, you have heard of "living below your means." Sure, you can always increase your income in theory, but the first thing most people should do to increase their bottom line is look at their expenses. (See also: Living Within Your Means Isn't Nasty)
Here are six effective ways to cut anyone's expenses. If you aren't doing the tips mentioned here already, I highly suggest giving them a try.
1. Buy Only What You Need
It sounds obvious, but how many of us buy what is truly necessary? We often buy in bulk in an attempt to reduce our costs and end up wasting what we don't use. We buy a house that has unused rooms, a more expensive TV with features we don't care about, or a high-priced cell phone plan because we never want to go over our plan minutes.
2. Wait to Buy
Tricks such as the 30-day rule, where you wait 30 days to let your emotions settle down before you make a purchasing decision, are popular because they work. For those suffering from frequent impulse purchases, give this one a try. Don't worry, sales always come back and even if they don't, saving the money means you will have more to spend next time around.
3. Use Coupons
Clipping coupons or searching for online coupons works, and for more reasons than just getting a discount. Trying to find a coupon takes effort, and it gives you ample time to think about what you actually need to buy, acting as a cooling-off period helping with the problem of impulse buying.
4. Use Cash
When I was a kid, I frequently stopped myself from buying something because I simply had no money. With a credit card in almost everyone's wallet these days, when was the last time you had to refrain yourself because you didn't bring enough money with you? The topic of reward points always comes up whenever we talk about the benefits of using cash, but unless you have extreme discipline, spending less usually far outweighs the benefits of a possible 1% back.
5. Pay Yourself First
When everything is in your checking account, it's easy to feel plush with money and in turn spend just a little more. Paying yourself first — immediately putting some money into savings when you get paid — can help you spend less than you actually have. It's a wonderful trick, and I urge you to try it and see for yourself.
6. Refresh Your Memories About Your Purchases
Record what you buy and go through all your purchases periodically. Where did the product that you bought go? Was it really useful? Could you have spent less on it? By thinking about each purchase after the emotions of owning the item fades away, it will help train your brain to reduce any unnecessary spending.