Unusual Small Habits Which Keep You from Saving Money

When it comes to reaching money goals, it’s the small things that may be keeping you stuck in a rut, frustrated, and ready to give up. Simple reasons, which you might not even have thought about, could be preventing you from making progress on financial goals.

Let’s face it, it does seem difficult to live beneath your means, especially when money is tight. This can make it feel as though reaching financial goals is not possible for you. However, a few easy changes could make a big difference.

In this post, I’ll talk about seven unusual (but small) habits which make it difficult to save money. But, don’t worry, I’ll also give you super easy hacks to turn them into positive, game-changers which will help you grow your bank account faster than you ever thought possible.

We go in-depth on money-saving habits and give you concrete examples in this video.

1. Mindless Scrolling and Spending 

When it comes to finances, we are creatures of habit, often hitting the big, red “buy” button, not because we truly need that item, but because we are tired, bored, upset, or lonely.

Much of the work of saving money happens when you begin to recognize and analyze destructive spending patterns and then come up with a plan to make sure that you adopt a positive money mindset and a set of checks and balances, which allow you to hold yourself accountable for making wiser decisions with your spending dollars.

Set yourself up for success by instituting a 24-48 hour waiting period before making purchases. Create mindful spending habits means that you allow yourself the opportunity to truly consider needs versus wants.

Before buying an item, always ask yourself:

  • Do I need this?
  • Do I need this now?
  • Can I get it cheaper elsewhere?
  • Can I buy it used?
  • What affect will this purchase have on my ability to reach my other financial goals? 

2. Ignoring Your Inner Discomfort 

If you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you overspend, take time to listen to that warning. It’s telling you that you need to stop that behavior.

Call it your conscience, inner-man (or woman), or whatever you want. It’s built-in self-preservation, just like the flight or fight response when you’re being chased by something dangerous.

If you’re uncomfortable with what you’re about to do, there is usually a reason for it. Pay attention.

Take a few deep breaths, evaluate why you are feeling that way, and decide if you need to alter your plans or put it on “hold” until you’ve had time to think more clearly about it. 

3. Not Doing the Math on What You’re Actually Paying

 Once we sign up for a service, we seldom take the time to figure out exactly what it’s costing us (beyond that monthly bill). That’s why you should always multiply your monthly payment by twelve.

Once you’re able to see in black-and-white exactly what that habit or service is costing you every year, it’s sometimes enough to make you realize that you either need to cut back on that expense or cut it out completely.

Here are some examples to get you started.

  • That $100 monthly cable bill is $1200 a year.
  • The twice a week $7.50 latte adds up to almost $400 a year.
  • Netflix (with two simultaneous streams ) will cost you $16.00 a month. That’s $200 a year.
  • And how many of us have Amazon Prime or Disney Plus in addition to Netflix? The cost of each of those additional services adds up quickly.
  • Are you eating out twice a week at $50 a meal? If so, you’re doling out $5200 a year to eat food which someone else has prepared.
  • The average cell phone bill in the US: $144 each month. That’s $1700 each year.

The often-ignored advantage of this whole process is that you’ll also be simultaneously finding ways that you can put more money in your pocket or in your bank account every single month. That savings can add up quickly and allow you to reach your goals even faster.

4. Not Setting Clear Goals 

Too many people start the new year by vowing to “save more money”. The problem with that resolution is that it’s not specific (which is why people tire of it after four weeks and throw it in the trash bin). Effective goals are specific and contain a date by which it will be completed. 

But, if you want to reach your goals far more frequently, then add what I call a “so that” to the end of that goal. This short statement is the reason you want that goal so badly that you will stick with it, even when you have setbacks. 

For instance, if your goal is, “I will save an additional $8000 this year to complete my 3-month emergency fund”, adding your “why” to the end will make this goal pack even more punch.

What is it about this goal that is keeping you up at night?

In my example, the goal could become, “I will save an additional $8000 this year to complete my 3-month emergency fund, so that I won’t lose sleep wondering if I can pay for a new furnace if the old one breaks down again and need to be replaced.”  

The “so that” statement will keep you motivated and moving forward, when life throws curveballs at you and circumstances become less-than-favorable for your financial goals. 

Use quarterly goals for accountability and motivation.

Many people set yearly goals in January, when the fervor to save money is for most of their mind. However one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t fall off the frugal bandwagon by mid February is to set quarterly goals, as well.

Focus on three to four goals each quarter related to specific areas of your budget. Then add four to six steps under each quarterly goal. These should be easy, daily or weekly habits which will allow you to reach that goal more easily. Once you’ve written them, be sure to print it out and post those goals where you can see them. It’s easy to use those steps as a reminder and also a checklist when you have completed them.

This system will allow you to reach financial goals much more easily and with much less frustration and hassle.

5. Vending Machine Snacking (or Any other Snacks at Work)

It’s all too easy to justify buying that one-dollar candy bar or the soda at the vending machine. Yet, those expenses add up quickly, especially if you are indulging in them several days a week.

Do yourself a favor, write down every penny you spend on those snacks. At the end of the month, add them all up to find the total. If that number makes you cringe a little bit (and it probably will), buy a big bag of chips from the store.

Take five minutes over the weekend to divide the large bag of chips into five, smaller bags (one to take for each day at work). Voila! You’ve created your own “snack machine” – no quarters needed. 

6. Ignoring Small Expenses

Nickels and dimes add up to dollars. Yet, most people believe that small amounts of money “don’t count”. They do. Track every penny you spend for thirty days.

It will quickly become very clear to you how buying a $5 daily latte or frequently pushing the “buy” button at your favorite on-line retailer, could be keeping you from something more important to you – like paying off a credit card or making extra payments on your mortgage.  

Always remember, small amounts of money, saved in several areas of your budget, grow two large amounts of money, over time.

7. Accepting the Status Quo 

Too many people believe that they can’t cut back on how much they are spending on necessities like food, utilities, or cell phone plans.

When someone is consistently spending the same amount each month for groceries, they tend to continue that pattern, believing that there is no way to cut back. However, that is often not the case.

Lower monthly utility bills can be achieved by habits like consistently turning off lights, unplugging unneeded appliances, using power strips and controlling your thermostat, just to name a few. There are also many ways in which grocery expenses can be reduced.

Thankfully, once people take the first step in trying a few, simple, easy strategies which take them very little time, and yet result in savings at the end of the month, they are often energized and motivated to find even more ways to save money. 

Finding Your Breakthrough

If you’re ready to take this “saving money game” seriously, then you really need a money-saving formula for cutting expenses.

Grab a copy of my free cheat sheets, “10 Ways to Radically Reduce Your Expenses“. You’ll get real-life examples of strategies we actually used when we were saving for great big goals (like paying cash for our home). I give you step-by-step instructions and checklists for each way to spend less and save more.

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