You don’t spend all your salary on designer clothes you can’t afford and you don’t eat out at five-star restaurants five days a week. So where in the world is all your money going?
Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small, everyday costs that come back to haunt you and shrink your bank account, little by little.
Hidden fees, mindless purchases, and impulse buys can eat away at your savings more than the occasional splurge. With 2016 a few weeks away, it’s time to start paying attention to the ways you’re overspending on a daily basis. You might be surprised what you find when you take a good, hard look at your spending habits.
Ahead, 10 painless ways you can cut down on mindless spending. Every kobo really does count, especially when you’re saving for something you really want.
- Make A Budget
You probably already budget for the big things like rent, student loans, and car payments, but what about the small things? Things like gum, chocolate, or those ₦5o0 socks you bought impulsively with friends at the mall. Keeping track of your seemingly small purchases every day will give you a good handle on exactly how much you’re actually spending daily, weekly, and monthly.
Use a budgeting app, like Mvelopes, Andromoney or Good Budget, to help you track what you’re spending each day. Figure out your average and challenge yourself to cut a few bucks from that total each day.
- Buy In Bulk
If you’re frequently running out to the store for toilet paper or tissue, you might want to consider buying in bulk. You can get 1 pack of Rose Belle White Toilet Tissue (8 pieces) for about ₦1200 versus ₦200 for just 1 piece at your local grocery store. That’s a 50 naira difference per roll, which seems like a small amount, but can add up pretty quickly. If you have the space, consider stocking up on all the basics; paper towels, tampons, Diet Coke, and wine. Just make sure you’re not buying more than you can reasonably consume. You don’t want to end up with a huge stock of food items that you can’t eat before it goes stale.
- Hang Up Your Cloths
You’re tired, you’re ready to sit back and watch four episodes of Empire, and the last thing you want to do is hang your work clothes up after a long day. Instead, they pile up on your chair, in the hamper, or in a mess on the floor. When you finally fish out your gray shift dress from the bottom, it’s a rumpled mess that needs to go to the cleaners (which will cost you 500 or more). Some of your clothes can be worn more than once, because you probably don’t sweat much on a daily basis (we’re not talking about those that walk all day in the street of lagos), so they don’t need to be washed that often. Hang up your jacket and fold your sweater. Empire will still be there when you finish. And so will the ₦500 you didn’t spend on dry cleaning.
- Go Generic
Don’t be fooled: Many generic products are exactly the same as the name brand, minus some fancy packaging and name recognition: Walgreens ibuprofen is the same as Advil, just a few bucks cheaper. It seems like a small amount, but it adds up when you consider the many name-brand over-the-counter medications you buy every year.
Note, we don’t recommend buying generic everything. Some products are clearly not the same quality (maybe don’t trade Sensodyne paste for a random paste you buy on the road side). But when the difference is nonexistent, don’t be a snob about buying name-brand.
- Turn off the temptation
Imagine having a friend who is constantly telling you about seemingly terrific deals (half-off watches!), or that you simply had to try the new pizzeria in town (free dessert!). Hearing about these offers puts you in the position of considering purchases you might not otherwise have noticed.
Worse, you’re likely to get worn down over time, so that you end up jumping at some offer partly to reward yourself for all of the times in the past you behaved virtuously and passed on the latest bargain.
- Review Your Bills
If you take some time to look through your financial charges, cable, and internet bills, you might be surprised or confused by some of the random charges you find. Clear some room in your schedule, call up customer service, and ask them to walk you through some of the more confusing costs to see if you can get a few of them reversed or discounted. Occasionally, they will have newer deals or rebates they can add to your account, so you might be able to knock a few bucks off each bill.
- Ask About LT Programs
If you regularly attend a workout class (Pilates, yoga, etc), check to see if your studio is part has customer loyalty programs. If they do, sign up ASAP and you’ll accumulate points every time you take a class. You can get free classes, a free month of classes, discounts on retail items, and more, depending on how many points you accumulate. If you refer a friend, you rack up even more perks.
- Focus on the bottom line, not freebies
“Free” is the four-letter word that always seems to work in marketing. But the free gift with purchase, the free bottle of water while you’re shopping, and the free samples can all cost you. For one thing, getting something for free creates a sense of obligation that makes it harder to say “no” to a persuasive salesperson.
Shoppers also often use the free gifts included with purchase to rationalize buying something that’s way beyond their budget. I’ve seen otherwise highly intelligent, logical people spend a fortune to get something for free. And the irony is completely lost on them.
- Buy A Water Bottle
if you are the type that spends a lot on bottle water, Why not break that pricey-bottle water habit and go for a reusable filtered water bottle thats stylish and sustainable. This could save you some bucks.
Last but not the least..
- Save Up
Learn not to spend them all, start the habit of keeping a piggy bank and save those little change that doesn’t matter to you. After a while they add up to huge sum.