How to Spend Less Without Starting a Budget
Some of the most common advice for helping someone spend less is to start a budget, but this approach doesn't always work. (See also: The First Step to Budgeting)
With a budget, it's easy to get used to how much money you spend because you are so accustomed to seeing the total on a monthly basis. Instead of helping you spend less, you are actually training yourself that your current level of spending is necessary. Then there's the problem of actually doing the work. Many people who have budgets often forget to add up a receipt here and a receipt there, which makes the whole budget unreliable.
And in reality, having a budget doesn't automatically help you spend less anyway. Some people feel that as long as they see what they are spending money on, they will stop. This is just a pipe dream. It sounds obvious, but unless you take the effort to spend less on a particular habit — something you can do without a budget — your spending won't go down.
Try these tips to lower your spending without starting a budget.
Start From Scratch
This isn't easy for some people, as you can imagine, but eliminating almost all of your expenses and starting from scratch will help. What I mean is to treat every bill, every meal out, and all your automatic payments as expenses that you truly cannot afford. Once you scrutinize every detail of what you pay, you will find that part of your spending is on things you don't really care about, and you can start reducing.
Pay Yourself First, and Pretend You Have Less
The fastest way to spend less is to have less. When you have less to spend money with, you will find a way to survive. We obviously don't want to voluntarily decrease our income, so the closest thing we can do is pay ourselves first and then pretend we have less. That's why we should schedule our deposits to our retirement accounts the day we get our paychecks and to increase our savings amount every time we get a raise. If we don't get a chance to use it, we probably won't.
Pay Off Debt
Another way to lower your spending is to think of ways to work on your debt payments. From refinancing to moving debt around to lower your interest rate, there are many ways to reduce your debt in order to lower your monthly obligations. Don't forget about this side of the equation, because spending some time here can reap huge rewards.
Having a budget is good only if you have the discipline to keep up. As with everything else in life, there are more than one way to skin a cat.