I’m always down for mindful ways to save money but lets face it, some of us weren’t made for spreadsheets and budgets. Tips like cutting out stops at my favorite coffee shop are just not going to happen–not during a pandemic… not ever. Ladies & gentlemen, we don’t need that sort of negativity in our lives anyway. So here are some curated, hand picked tips that maybe you haven’t heard of before to help build that savings and spend less!
Browsing the web for some inspiration, I found everything from humorous money saving advice to practical to what your mother has been telling you for years. Sure you could save money separating your 2-ply toilet paper into 1 ply, cutting coupons or your own hair, investing in CD’s or training your cat to use the toilet (yes, that was really a tip I found) but I felt the BEST tips of all fell into the same category. Psychology.
Why do we do what we do? What influences our behaviors and how do we turn our intentions into actions? They say knowing is half the battle, but why does knowing sometimes still not lead to a change in behavior?
That leads me to the first mindful way to save money I really liked. Pay yourself first! Set up your bank account (or a saving app) that takes a percent or dollar amount of your paycheck and automatically deposits it into a savings account! Passive savings-without you having to do anything besides the initial set up-works!
It is also common to want to pay your credit card or debt with the lower balance first because it makes you feel good and accomplished, when in fact, it is recommended to pay off the card with the highest interest rate before you tackle that lower interest, small balance card.
The most regretful money spent, according to a study, was dining out. Whether it’s dining out to relax, socialize or perhaps for business, there’s ways to save money. If you dine to socialize, plan a picnic instead! Ordering drinks is always when our bill takes a turn for the worse, so I liked the idea of ordering water, but asking for lemon with it. You could add some sugar packets and have yourself some lemonade too!
Another way to skip the restaurant but still enjoy yourself is with a little creativity. Plan a themed dinner or a dinner party for your family. Sometimes it’s all about a change in atmosphere! Dim the lights, put on some jazz music, print and cut out height markings and make a mug shot wall and host a roaring 20’s murder mystery party! Make fun hors d’oeuvres for the kids and throw in some fun facts about the 1920’s to make it educational. With a little creativity, you can pick from so many themes to try, from a drive in theater to a beach. You could also do this by cuisine!
Pick a country and go to your local world market or grocery store that carries that country’s most used spices, flavors or sauces and make a fun meal. I recommend always having a large bag of frozen chicken breasts on hand as it can be so versatile if you’re feeling like making a fun new meal.
Switching gears, another way to save is to take advantage of employee discounts. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone but I feel like most of us forget how many discounts and perks you can find, from hotel discounts to gym membership discounts to auto repair and retail! If it’s there, use it!
Another simple and kind of humorous money saving advice post I found was to skip the nursery and plant fake flowers in your garden or pots. This is one tip I will be implementing this year because let’s face it, despite my yearly optimism, some of us just don’t have a green thumb, and Dollar Tree makes some pretty realistic greenery that will surely last longer than my succulents did!
Like I said earlier, the best money saving advice that I could actually put into practice that didn’t make it seem like I was stressing myself out over a budget, was to learn the behaviors behind the world of shopping and spending.
“Supermarket psychology” is a real thing, and shopping smarter and being more aware of your behaviors can save you quite a bit each month! Do you think there’s a reason why, when you walk into a grocery store you are greeted by beautiful, colorful flowers and fruit and the bread and dairy products are usually on the other side of the store? First impressions are everything, and a happy shopper spends more. When you’re looking for ways to save money, it’s important to be aware of the psychology of store set ups.
The most common items will be the furthest away to get you to spend more time in the aisles as your emotional brain takes over your cognitive self and you start to fill your cart with those impulse buys and forget why you went there in the first place. It’s also normal human behavior to look midway down a shelf, but that’s where the most expensive items will usually be! Keep those eyes looking up and down to score the best deals. If you’re in a clothing or boutique store, start at the back-that’s where the sale items usually are!
I think it’s also important to know how stores play on our feelings, sometimes worse than your ex! Humans are pleasure seeking creatures. Marketing an item as new and trendy increases dopamine in our brains and makes us feel like we need it. Ads and displays can also create feelings of urgency and make you feel like you’re missing out with “limited time” or limited edition” terminology. When you’re looking for mindful ways to save money, don’t fall for it! I try to stop and remind myself that it will probably be on sale next week. I can also at least look online for a better price first. I very rarely will pay full price for a piece of clothing or related item with this mindset and knowledge.
I hope you can use some of these budget savvy tips and tricks to save some extra without feeling like you have to make major sacrifices and enjoy less. With a little creativity, mindfulness and know-how, it’s easy to have a few more dollars at the end of each month!