How to Spend Less on Everything in 2014
Did you make a resolution to spend less money and save more in 2014? You're not alone. According to research conducted at the University of Scranton and published in Journal of Clinical Psychology, this is the third most common New Year's resolution made by Americans. (The number one resolution is to lose weight followed by the resolution to get organized.)
We live in a "buy, buy, buy" culture. Retailers and society pressure us into spending with "deals that can't be missed," enticing loyalty programs, coupons galore, and plenty of glossy ads everywhere we turn, online and off. So how can we keep our resolution to save more and spend less when temptation is all around us? Here are five strategies that will help. (See also: Financial Moves You Should Make This Year)
1. Become a DIY Ninja With Pinterest
As much pressure as there is to spend money, DIY has become a trendy way to live life. Pinterest is a perfect vehicle for ideas, inspiration, and instructions for DIY home decor, clothing, crafts, gifts, and everything in between. Plus, it also gives you the platform to brag about your own DIY skills, show off what you make, and share what you learn with others.
2. Make a List of What You Need — and Use It
In 2013, LivePerson ran an online survey of consumers in five major Western markets. Seventy-seven percent said that they indulged in impulse buying while in-store, and 50% said they impulse shop online. Attractive displays; in-store signage that screams price savings; and appealing lighting, music, and staff can cause you to indulge on items you never intended to buy before you set foot in a store. It's a battle to stay focused, and the best weapon is a list. Write it out before you get to the store, stick to it, and don't browse. Get what you need and get out.
3. Dine and Entertain at Home
Dining out is a fun way to socialize with friends and colleagues. It's also an expensive one. Because menu prices have to cover the cost of running the restaurant and preparing the food, restaurants mark-up dishes as much as 300%. Plus, you have to add tax and tip. One of the best ways to spend less and save more is to cook your main meals at home and then meet up with friends for a drink, dessert, coffee, a walk, a movie, etc. Better yet, have them over to your place and prepare the meal together. These items still carry a mark-up as well (except for the walk!) although the mark-up is a much smaller dollar amount than what you would spend on a full meal. (See also: 11 Kitchen Tricks to Make Cooking Fun)
4. Keep Your Wardrobe Classic and Accessorize
Clothing is another item that carries a huge mark-up between what the item actually costs to manufacture and the retail price. And a sale isn't always a real sale. Many retailers inflate items to a ridiculous price and then offer huge sales to make it look like you're getting a bargain.
The only way to fight this is to buy high quality items that last a long time, comparison shop, and keep your style classic. This way you can easily mix and match items to create new outfits, and you'll be able to wear these items longer than one season. An easy way to keep your look fresh is to have most of your clothing and shoes in neutral shades dressed up by colorful and punchy accessories. There's a hefty mark-up on accessories, too, although the actual dollar amount you spend on them is much less than most clothing items. (See also: Refresh Your Wardrobe for $25 or Less)
5. Set and Review Weekly and Monthly Savings Goals
What gets measured gets done.
If you want to spend less and save more, you need to measure and review what you spend and what you save. Set a goal every week and every month. The moment you get paid, put that money aside and record it. Then record everything you spend. Regularly reviewing your spending and saving will keep you motivated and on-track. Once you see your bills going down and your savings grow, you'll want to keep that happy glow that comes from setting a goal and meeting it. (See also: 10 Sites and Apps to Help You Stick to Your Budget)
Spending less and saving more are wonderful goals. It's totally achievable, although it's going to take some willpower, and you may need to change some heavily ingrained habits. You'll feel peer pressure and pressure from retailers who would love nothing more than to see you give up this New Year's Resolution. Don't let that stop you and keep your eye on the real prize — a savings account that helps you feel safe, secure, and confident no matter what life throws your way.
How are you planning to spend less and save more this year?