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Altering Habits to Save Money

by Contributor

In times such as these – everyone is looking for ways to cut their expenses. There are two main ways to cut expenses:

  1. By consuming less, and making sacrifices.
  2. By cutting wasteful spending and optimizing the money you spend on essentials.

While making sacrifices is a personal decision and everyone is their own best judge, there are some easy ways to cut wasteful spending. Altering your spending habits can go a long way in saving money and I am going to talk about some such habits here.

How to alter your habits to save money

1. Avoid Shopping Sites: In my free time, I used to visit sites like – Amazon and Deals2Buy – to check out deals and grab bargains. That was before I installed FeedDemon, a feed aggregator. After I installed the feed aggregator, I found that most of my free time was spent reading blogs and I rarely visited Amazon.

I realize now that the reason that I used to window shop and browse stores and online deals was for entertainment. As soon as I found other ways of entertaining myself I stopped visiting online stores and started spending my time elsewhere.

Most people think that they are buying stuff that they will use in the future. For example – buying a jacket to wear in the winter, getting a game console to go through the boring evenings, and just about anything else you can think of. However, in reality a lot of our purchases are done just to satisfy the current need of entertaining ourselves.

I think that is the reason a lot of us have stuff that we don’t even look at one week after buying it. the next time you go shopping try to delay your purchase. Tell yourself, “I will get this on my next shopping trip or with my next paycheck.” There is a pretty good chance that you will forget about it in a fortnight.

An even better way to get rid of this kind of behavior is to stay away from sites that can make you spend money. To do this, you will need a good alternative that will keep you equally well entertained. For me – it was a Feed Reader, for you it could be Yahoo Answers, LOL Cats, or even something offline.

Altering your habit of visiting sites that entice you to spend money is a great way of saving money.

2. Online Coupons: Most companies like Kohl’s, Tire Rack and Carx have coupons on their websites. If you know that you are going to visit a store be sure to check its website to see if there are any coupons available. Most of the time you will save yourself some money without spending more than 10 minutes online. This is much better than clipping coupons and you spend time on it only when you have a definite purpose of visiting a store. I also visit Ebates before shopping online, which offers online rebates for a variety of companies.

3. Car-Pooling: This was easier than I had imagined. There must be plenty of colleagues living in your vicinity. And even if they are not, find someone who is on your way to work. Even if you drive to their home and save about three quarters of the distance – it will still be worth it.

It takes a little – getting used to, but it’s fun, and based on how far you go, you will start noticing the difference in a couple of months or so.

4. Ask Politely: This has been the most surprising and rewarding technique by far. Almost everywhere I go – I ask for a discount. It is surprising to see how many people oblige. Recently I got a totally unexpected discount on my lease – just by asking. Asking can never hurt you, and believe me, if you can bargain and reduce prices – it makes you feel great too.

These are some simple and effective ways that have helped me cut costs; I hope you can benefit from them too.

This guest post is courtesy of Manshu Verma from OneMint, a website with the vision of “creating wealth for everyone.” If you liked this article and wish to read more about the economy, stocks, investing, credit cards or other topics on personal finance, please consider subscribing to his website.


Published or updated January 23, 2012.
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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 frugalCPA

I love it when asking politely works. And no harm done if it doesn’t. I’m also not a fan – at all – of some people’s strategy to get discounts by being rude, loud, mean, and increasingly demanding. It’s really embarrassing for everyone involved, and totally memorable. Whereas that $4 discount they finally get when the manager just wants to be done? Not so memorable.

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2 Ryan

Agreed – kindness is always the better route!

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3 Miranda

Thanks for sharing these ideas. I really like purchase delay. For most things, you can wait awhile before buying. If you still want it after you’ve saved up, you are more likely to use it.

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4 Ryan

Manshu: Thanks for sharing! I was going to e-mail you about it in advance, but I forgot. I’ve been in bed sick all week and my time on the internet has been severely limited!

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5 Manshu

Ryan – Thanks a lot for having OneMint here. It feels great!

@Miranda – Thanks for your comment, the delay idea works especially well for wasteful expenses. The last thing I avoided using this was a Netflix membership.

@frugalCPA – I hate when I see anyone being rude in order to get better service or discounts or whatever. Thats just not the way it should be done.
On the other hand it helps those of us who are – polite :) as it shows us in much better light when compared to these rude guys!

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6 Jules @ Money Feuds

Great post! I love the ideas you present for altering habits. And the concept of reducing consumption. Reducing purchases and reducing consumption isn’t always sacrificing. Sometimes having less (clothes, books, gadgets, etc.) means less time spent cleaning, fixing, or organizing! Plus, it generally results in more free time and more money in the bank.

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7 Imani

The “wait before you buy” tactic really works for me!

Only, I have to wait for a couple or three weeks (maybe longer depending on the cost), not just 10 seconds. In ten seconds, I can convince myself I need a Hummer :-), which I don’t especially since I haven’t used my 15 year old Honda in 7 months! And don’t even miss not using it! Walking is very good!

I never tried asking for a discount here in the USA…but maybe next time I’ll give it a polite, eye fluttering, attempt. Nothing to lose.

Thanks for the hint.

I enjoyed the ideas in this post, ty.

Best Regards,
Imani

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8 Manshu

@Imani, I don’t see how a polite eye flutterring attempt could ever miss :)

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9 Manshu

@Jules – Whenever I look at the number of Wii games I have (that I haven’t used for ages) – the point about spending less and still not sacrifice really hits home.

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10 Scott @ The Passive Dad

I try and combine #1 and #3 when shopping. I try and take a friend when going to a computer store or any store with tech gadgets. It’s kind of like the buddy system, we won’t let each other buy anything.

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11 Manshu

Scott,

Thanks for that idea, I try to stay away from my friends while shopping as most of them try to entice me to buy the books and games that they really want to read and play :)

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12 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Asking nicely, and further, expressing thanks allowed me to use three coupons for a fastfood purchase yesterday when the limit is one coupon. Four people ate a quick on the road lunch for $10.50 including the tax.

It never hurts to ask . . . nicely.

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13 Manshu

@DDFD

I am glad that it works and that it also brings a lot of smiles to a lot of people!

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14 Curious Cat Investing Blog

Good advice. I think often people spend money not because they really want to but they just are in the habit. Just getting yourself to question if this is really what you want to spend money on can get many people to spend much less money without any real sacrifice.

Most people have some things they spend money on that they really want to. And it is different for everyone. I like eating out (and don’t like cooking) so for me cutting back on that would bring sacrifice. Many people though don’t seem to care and for them they can save a lot of money by just thinking if they really want to spend money so they can eat out often (or bring lunch to work…). If not, then just break the habit.

Also just learning to question the consumer culture is helpful. You are inundated with messages to spend money (ads). If you don’t question yourself, you are bound to carry out the actions those trying to influence you with advertising are attempting to get you to take.

Diamond rings for example are less than 100 years old as a common engagement ring. The entire idea of spending that money is just giving in to advertising. Now some people have decided that they agree with that advertising. If so, fine. Most people though do it because they don’t realize it is just a new advertising gimmick and think it is some tradition from the beginning of time. Some Diamond history:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond

Ok, diamonds look nice but so do lots of things that don’t cost nearly as much.

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15 Ryan

Curious Cat: I’ve read about the diamond cartels before – I’m not a fan and I know the prices are artificially inflated. I bought my wife a diamond for her engagement ring because it was what she wanted. But I also bought a reasonable size stone and it was money I could afford to spend. I didn’t buy it as an investment, and even if the resale value were to drop to nothing it would be the end of the world. She is happy with her ring, so I am happy.

(But I Have made a point not to purchase other diamonds beyond her engagement ring).

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16 Manshu

Thanks for your comment Curious Cat Investing. I wish you hadn’t taken diamond as an example, as I just got engaged and got diamond rings :) In my defense, she wanted it more than I did :)

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17 Kristy @ Master Your Card

I love this post! I really had to focus on the delayed buying tactic, especially when I realized I had a real spending problem. I still spend, but I incorporate this tactic much more now.

As someone who works in banking, can I say, the ‘ask politely’ tactic is much better received than the aggressive, snotty, self-entitled reaction I see more often then not. In fact, I’m more inclined to tell the rude people no, when I am perfectly able to give them a discount, than I am to tell someone who is polite no. I will bend over backwards for someone who is polite. You want me to match that 3.5% rate, sure, let me see what I can do. You DEMAND I match it, yeah, I’m terribly sorry, but we just don’t rate match. You definitely catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

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18 Andy @ Retire at 40

Over the past year I have cut down my spending in almost all areas of my life, from housing, to food, to all my bills too. I’m absolutely amazed at how much I’m saving these days and all because I stopped buying a few things that I don’t care about.

Even just switching electricity companies is saving me over $300 a year, if not more.

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19 Ryan

Andy: Switching electric, gas, and other utilities isn’t always easy – there are usually limited options. I’m glad you made it work out for you though! :)

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20 Manshu

@Kristy – It is nice to read someone’s views who has been there herself.

@Andy – I switched phone companies a little while ago and even that helped me save a bit, not 300 though.

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