7 Tricks for Cutting Your Spending (and Beating Your Consumer Mindset)

how to cut back on spending

I’m never spending money again.

I’ve made that declaration plenty of times, usually when facing a spending hangover from buying something I didn’t need.

But real solutions for how to cut back on spending are simpler and less drastic than never spending another cent.

How to cut back on spending

In our consumer-centric society, a few simple changes to your mindset can transform you from being an over-spender to a super-saver.

Here are seven ways to avoid retailers’ spending traps, make fewer purchases, and get more value out of life.

1. Stop and think before each purchase

Central to figuring out ways to cut back on spending is to start paying more attention to it. Think through your process for making a purchase, then challenge your assumptions about what’s worth buying and what’s not.

Get in the habit of questioning each purchase before you make it. Do you really need it? Or could this wait until you’ve saved for it? Try and answer these questions honestly, and avoid making excuses or justifications for unnecessary purchases.

2. Switch to cash-only spending

An easy way to be more mindful of purchases is to switch to paying with cash. Paying with cash is a more tangible process compared to inserting a digital number attached to your bank account.

Psychologically, parting with bills is inherently harder than swiping a card, too. It puts a natural check on your spending. And unlike swiping plastic, you’ll avoid credit card costs like interest and other fees.

3. Look at the full costs of an expense

You probably regularly consider the sticker price of an item before making a purchase. You might even look around for a discount or deal on it.

But you should also think through other costs a new purchase will bring. Try to picture how you’ll be using the item or service in the future. Perhaps you’ll have to spend money, time, and energy to maintain it. Or, maybe it will just take up valuable square footage in your home.

Make sure you’re considering all potential costs of your new purchase before deciding if you’re getting a good value.

4. Beg, borrow, or rent before you buy

Just because you want something doesn’t necessarily mean you have to part with cash to get it. Do some research and see if there’s a way to get what you want without spending money.

Ask your social circle if someone has the item you want who would be willing to lend or even give it to you. Check local listings to see if you can find it for free or for cheap.

Even renting can be a better option than buying, especially if it’s a purchase you’ll only occasionally use.

5. Develop a resistance to advertising

As a suggestible person, advertising has a strong affect on me. Unfortunately, that’s led to some pretty stupid spending. Here’s looking at you $100 eye cream that did nothing for the dark circles under my eyes.

Building up a resistance to advertising was one of my most effective strategies for cutting my spending. I avoid looking at ads whenever I can. And when I’m being advertised to, I keep a healthy dose of cynicism.

Most advertisements first make you believe you have a problem and then promise they have the best solution for it.

For example, an ad may tell me that those dark circles under my eyes are making me ugly. However, this $100 eye cream is just the cure I need to look and feel beautiful again!

Don’t believe everything the ads tell you. Turn up your skepticism and question whether you have a problem in the first place. And don’t take their word that this product they’re advertising is actually the best way to solve it.

6. Tune into messages that tell you to spend less

You’re constantly getting messages and ads designed to get you to spend. To combat these even more effectively, don’t just tune them out. Replace them with ideas and messages that motivate you to save more and spend less money instead.

Whatever your favorite entertainment medium, find content that helps you learn more about money and encourages responsible spending.

Try following social media accounts centered on saving. Listen to a radio show or podcast about money management. Bookmark your favorite money-related blogs and news sites and read them regularly.

7. Focus on creating as well as consuming

In addition to spending less, could you also be creating more income? On top of limiting purchases, you might be able to offload unused items for cash and free up resources.

Perhaps you could eat cheaper and healthier at home by cooking more meals. Or maybe you’d be more entertained working on an income-generating passion project instead of zoning out in front of the TV.

Remember, at the end of the day, there’s more to you than just being a consumer. As you make this more of a focus, your spending habits will naturally change to reflect that. And finding ways to cut spending will be the norm, not the exception.

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LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal LoansFixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 4.98% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 21, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.98% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 3.89% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.99% – 16.24% (4.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.98% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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