3 Tricks I Use to Spend Less

I use 3 simple tricks to help me spend less money. Simple as that!

Spending less is a very broad term so let’s find a way to narrow things down. Reviewing your budget is the best way to understand where your main expenses are but it doesn’t always tell the truth. A budget can be skewed by whoever controls it, and sometimes the person in control likes to push percentages further than they can stretch.

My favorite way to get to the bottom of spending, is actually calculating every purchase at the end of the month. Tracking spending and keeping receipts doesn’t work for me, so I peruse my online banking and probe the statements like a boss. You might be surprised to find you spent way less than expected, but you also might be surprised to find you spent an extra $25 on fast food after nights out with friends. Damn those nights we can’t remember. (Not me though because I stay home every weekend and watch Netflix)

Never the less, here are 3 tricks I use to spend less…

1) No-spend on 4/5 weekdays

This might sound hard, but in reality, it’s extremely easy. I keep myself busy with activities and plans during the week that are cost-free or I have already paid for. I leave one weeknight open for gas, grocery, and dining out experiences. Before I had this rule I was always spending for such lackluster reasons. I was bored, I was hungry (because I was bored), I didn’t want to make dinner tonight, and I needed to go see a new movie. Well that’s changed. Because I make my breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, I am saving so much more than the average full-time employee.

2) Expect the unexpected

Any Big Brother fans reading? No? Okay. What I mean by this is that I am always prepared for unexpected expenses that would regularly force me to spend more money. This could be a birthday celebration, a car part needed, you had a bad day and really needed some pizza, etc. Expenses you weren’t ready to pay for, but you had to. By putting coins and leftover cash that I have into mason jars, I automatically have a miniature emergency savings fund. This fund is for small emergencies that are not going to bust your savings. They’re merely going to put you over budget for the month, and that is not an option.

3) Pretend I have less money than I do

What if you had $1,500 in your bank account, but you told yourself and all of your friends that you only had $500? You’d probably start to believe it, wouldn’t you? If you completely forget about that other $1,000 you probably wouldn’t spend more than the $500 on your mini weekend getaway, because you know you wouldn’t have enough to pay for other purchases once you got home. So why don’t we do this more often? If we don’t need every cent of our paycheque then why do we spend it? Instead, let’s spend less.

Well, I hope you’ll consider giving these 3 tricks a go. Finding unique ways to motivate yourself for a financial goal can always give you something to look forward to. Can you make it 4 days this week without spending money? If you accomplish this once, who knows how many times you can do it? The possibilities to save and stay on budget are endless. The key? Finding what works best for you by trying as many options as you can.

PS: my obsession with gif’s will never come to an end.

What are some of your tips to spend less?

40 Responses to “3 Tricks I Use to Spend Less

  • I love the idea of no spending on 4/5 weekdays! Having as many no spend days as possible would certainly keep those “extra” (often unnecessary) expenses at bay. And I’m with you on pretending to have less money. I keep my checking balance pretty lean so there’s no temptation to spend more than I need to.

    • Alyssa @ Mixed Up Money
      12 months ago

      I am so jealous! I try to keep my checking balance lean but then I panic even though I have extra savings. I think I haven’t hit that magic number yet. Still trying to figure out what that is.

  • Omg I love Big Brother! Love no-spend-days – I find that weekdays are the perfect time for them!

    • Haha yes! Someone else who loves Big Brother! I finally found you!

      I totally agree. Weekdays are the easiest, but sometimes I give a Saturday a spin, and it almost becomes forced-relaxation.

  • So 4/5 no spend days is amazing and I need to adopt this. Also I am SO HAPPY that the gifs didn’t go away with the redesign because I need your gif posts in my life.

  • Good tips! I like the 4 out of 5 rule. For me, approaching the issue from the other side by simply setting an amount I want to save each month has worked for me. This way – I only have a certain amount available to spend in a month – and if I go overboard I have to figure out how to make more money! This engages another part of the brain and forces you to sometimes get creative with ways to earn.

    • Love that idea! And creativity is a massive reason for financial success in most people.

  • I think I’m going to try to implement a no-spend Saturday. For us, we’ve successfully avoided most weekday purchases. That’s easier for us since we’re usually so exhausted after work that we don’t want to go anywhere/spend money.

    The weekends, however, are a different story. Saturdays are our spendiest days. I’d love to implement a no-spend Saturday to test our frugal chops.

    For a while I did switch to a cash-based envelope system. It was great for when I lacked self-control over my finances. I just had the cash I had and that was it–I couldn’t spend any money that wasn’t in the envelope. It’s another way to pretend you have less money than you do, but it puts more pressure on you to behave!

    • That’s an awesome idea. I find spending on the weekends can be avoided if you plan ahead and arrange to do cost free activities. I’ve always wanted to do a cash-based diet but I am so totally scared I would feel trapped.

  • According to my Mint.com expense tracking, we have a hard time going 4 hours without spending money. 🙂 4 weedays?!? Bravo!

    Paying yourself first is a great way to pretend you don’t have the money. Once it’s invested, it’s gone from your checking account. Automate that part as much as possible.

    Big Brother fan? I thought you were referring to 1984 until I googled “Expect the Unexpected” and was reminded that there’s a TV show called Big Brother. I’ll call that a Win on my part.


    • Hahaha oh wow! At least you know you can beat 4 hours if you really wanted to 😉

  • I, too, love the no spend weekdays idea. My only hangup would be not letting myself panic that I have to fit all spending into the one day. I tend to do extra spending on “just in case” items when I get to restrictive.

    • That’s totally fair. I think even 2 or 3 days would be a great way to suspend yourself from going overboard!

  • Not spending on the weekdays can easily be achieved with planning. If you take the time on Sunday to plan your meals, get your gas, whatever you need for the week, there should be no reason to have to run to a store unless something unexpected comes up.

    Automating savings is a great way to trick you into thinking you have less than you do. if you set up an automatic deposit to a savings account each time income increases and the cash flow going into your checking account doesn’t change, then you may be able to buy into the fact that your cash flow has not actually changed!

    Thanks for the nice read today.

    Bert, one of the Dividend Diplomats

    • Since my wife and I adopted mandatory Sunday morning budger meeting where we plan out the weeks meals and go over budget we have saved a lot unnecessary spending. I highly recommend it.

      • That’s an awesome idea. My husband and I don’t have a ridiculous amount of expenses so we know where our money is a majority of the time without meetings. However, we sit down and discuss goals monthly.

    • I totally agree! I have automated everything and it makes my financial life so simplified and stress free! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • How do you perfect out tip 2? While pretending is something I can do ( I guess), it’s hard to lie to people and myself. First, a white lie is still a lie and I wouldn’t want to teach that to people around me. Second, you easily mix up the figures when you lie and it’ll be known. I would think being silence on how much money I have left for the month is the way to go?

    • I do it by only taking out a certain amount of cash. It’s not really a lie if you truly only have $200 cash for a weekend trip.

      Everyone is different 😉

  • I really liked how you focused on boredom as a money-sucking black hole in trick #1. It is so true! When you do spend cash when you’re bored, thinking you’ll feel better, a lot of times you actually feel worse!!! I’ve done it before! How dysfunctional of a mindset is that to do over and over again! One thing I’ve really learned that helps me save money and eliminate boredom is to invest in is my hobbies. Yes, I spend hundreds of dollars on outdoor recreation equipment, and hundreds on musical hobbies like guitars and pianos over the years (I always try to buy used), and my wife has spent hundreds on art equipment, but now that we have all that, we’re never bored which means we never have to go out and spend money to find happiness. We can either go outside, or stay inside, and have a great time improving our talents with our hobbies for free. Sure it took me a year of spending money to accumulate the tools I need for my hobbies, but now that I have them, the next ten years are free whenever I am bored. That’s how I get around the boredom black hole of wasteful spending. Thanks!

    • Agree agree and agree again! I absolutely invest money into hobbies because those are my passions. I would much rather spend money on my soccer fees or a new video editing program than a new item of clothing or a new pair of shoes.

      Love your attitude. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I love to shop . . . so I quit shopping. Hubby can walk into the store and buy only what we need. So I don’t allow myself to even go into the grocery store anymore. It also helps that my side gig keeps me busy many evenings. Income property almost paid off!

    • Hey, that’s one way to do it! Congratulations on being so close 🙂

  • I do 9-10 days of “non-spending” regularly. It’s not through my discipline but my work. I work away for 10 days at a time most times so I don’t have much time to spend the money, usually just one big grocery trip and that’s it for the 10 days. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up if I ever get a normal job

    • Working that often would definitely make for easy savings! You’ll definitely be able to keep it up because you’ve already built the habits that cause the success!

  • Nice post, best part is my wife always asks me why I act like I’m poor… When you have the mindset that you can’t afford something it’s easier to not spend like crazy. I know I could buy a brand new truck, but can I truly afford it, no way.

    • I totally know what you mean! I think my friends think I’m being cheap, but I just prefer to save for the future instead.

  • I always like to spend like I don’t earn as much. I automated my savings and investing so that I only receive $500 per week in my account, all the rest just goes so I’m not tempted to spend it!

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