40 Simple Ways to Curb Your Spending in 2016

Katie Sweeney

Now that I am in my mid-30s, it’s about time I got my finances in order. I’ve been saying this for months, but the New Year is a great excuse to finally come up with a plan to eliminate debt, increase savings, and curb spending. While I’m not going to stop eating at restaurants or going on vacation, I am going to cut back—because when it comes to your wallet, small changes can make a big difference. For a year I lived off of unemployment, which was $1680 per month, and while it was difficult, I was not destitute or miserable. Thus, today, I’m vowing to cut my spending so that in 12 months’ time, I’ll start 2017 on the right foot financially. Wondering how you can do the same? Here are 40 simple ways to curb your spending in 2016.

  1. Keep track of all your spending for two weeks. Examine your list and see where you can cut back. Do you really need to get a green juice after every boot camp class? Probably not.
  2. Make a budget based on the aforementioned list. Write down any extra expenses and figure out exactly how much you spend each month. Look again for areas where you can cut back. Be realistic about it!
  3. Use energy-efficient lightbulbs and batteries. In the long term, you’ll end up spending less because you won’t have to purchase these everyday items as often.
  4. Pay attention to the cost of grocery and bathroom items. When trying to decide whether to buy the 200-square-foot roll of aluminum foil versus the 130-square-foot roll, look at the cost per ounce. It’s normally listed underneath the general cost, and in many cases, you’ll quickly realize that you will be spending less by purchasing more.
  5. Exercise outside of a gym. Running is free. It costs nothing to do sit-ups in your home. Instead of spending money on pricey SoulCycle classes, grab a girlfriend and hit the pavement together.
  6. Entertain at home. A night on the town can end up being expensive, so why not invite your friends over for wine and snacks instead? Your guests will inevitably ask what they can bring, and when they do, request that they contribute a bottle of wine or pizza. Everyone will end up spending less.
  7. Unplug unused electronics. Even when you’re not using an appliance, if it’s plugged in, it will use a small amount of energy. This will be added to your PG&E bill. I’m not saying that you have to unplug your television between uses, but do unplug appliances that are easy to unplug. Things like your toaster, curling iron, and iPhone charger are great examples.
  8. Use refillable water bottles instead of buying plastic ones. It’s better for your wallet and the environment.
  9. Check your bank fees. Many banks have ridiculous fees that are incredibly disrespectful. If you have to pay a maintenance fee or have very low interest on your savings, switch to a bank that offers solid interest savings and does not charge fees.
  10. Sign up for customer reward loyalty programs at places you frequently shop—especially if you can sign up for free! It often takes no time at all and can result in unexpected savings. For example, I occasionally shop at Walgreens for toilet paper and over-the-counter medicine. When I recently came down with a nasty cold and went to buy some Sudafed, I got it for $4 because I had saved enough points through the loyalty program.
  11. Don’t sign up for department store credit cards. Having a bunch of different charge cards—for Target, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, etc.—will only be difficult to manage and pay off. If you want to go shopping, use money from your checking account.
  12. Don’t use a credit card unless it’s an emergency. Only use your credit card if you absolutely have to. A new leather jacket or beautiful throw pillow set is not an emergency!
  13. Figure out which local market is the most cost-effective, and shop there for groceries. Hint: It’s not Whole Foods.
  14. Use coupons. If you come across a coupon, use it! Places like Ulta and Sephora often have coupons, so wait until you receive one and then stock up on beauty essentials.
  15. Use what you already have. Before you go to the grocery store, consult your refrigerator or pantry and see if you can make a meal with the items that you have on hand.
  16. When you’re dying for a new dress or cute top, walk into your closet and pick out an item that you haven’t worn in a really long time. Wear that.
  17. Rid your email inbox of department-store and flash-sale website subscriptions. You’ll be less inclined to waste money on stuff that you don’t need. When I unsubscribed from Nordstrom Rack’s daily emails, I found that I automatically spent less! I also wasted less time browsing clothes I couldn’t really afford and didn’t really need.
  18. If you make a large meal and have a bunch of leftovers, freeze them for a later date.
  19. Shop for holiday supplies after the holiday. Now is a great time to stock up on Christmas items for next year. Everything is more than half off. Do the same for other holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
  20. Next time you need a new book to read, go to the library instead of the local bookstore.
  21. Get rid of stuff you don’t use. That KitchenAid mixer that’s collecting dust on your counter? Sell it on Craigslist.
  22. Instead of driving or paying for a taxi, use public transportation, walk, bike, or carpool.
  23. When Uber and Lyft are surging, take an Uber Pool or Lyft line. Drive less.
  24. Get rid of your cable. From AppleTV to Netflix to Hulu, there are tons of different television options out there. A monthly cable bill can be pricey, so research alternative options and find the one that is best for you.
  25. Set up a savings account where the money is taken directly from your paycheck. Don’t let it go into your checking account and you won’t be able to spend it.
  26. Check your monthly services. Do you really need to be a member at four different wineries? Are you using that ClassPass? Eliminate monthly services you no longer use.
  27. Only eat out once a week. Pack your lunch and bring it to work every other day.
  28. Grow an herb garden. Herbs can be incredibly pricey at the store. If you have the space to plant a small herb and vegetable garden, do so.
  29. Buy generic and in bulk when you can.
  30. Stop buying so much clothing. If you’re like me, you’ve already got a closet full of fabulous clothes. Instead of hitting up Zara once a week, challenge yourself to put together outfits using items you already own.
  31. Reduce beauty expenses. Paint your nails instead of going to a salon for a manicure. Other suggestions: Pluck your eyebrows at home and use a store-bought brand to color your hair. Instead of getting a bikini wax once a month, get one every six weeks.
  32. Don’t go shopping unless you have a list. This applies to groceries, home goods, and clothing. Only buy the items that are on your list.
  33. Buy groceries that are in season. Now is not the time to eat heirloom tomatoes. They are not in season and will be super expensive at the store. Instead, opt for butternut squash or citrus.
  34. Don’t agree to do something you can’t afford. If your friend is throwing a lavish bachelorette party in Cabo, but you simply don’t have the available funds to attend, don’t go. Explain your situation and say that you would love to celebrate with her here in town.
  35. Stop buying things you don’t need simply because they are on sale.
  36. Buy things for the life you have, not the one you want. If you never do yoga, why are you splurging on a fancy yoga mat? Sure, those skis are a great price, but are you really going to hit the slopes this winter?
  37. Take the time to make returns. If you made a bad purchase, return it. Don’t just let it sit unused in your closet!
  38. Be like Marie Kondo. Don’t buy anything unless it absolutely and instantly sparks joy within you.
  39. Calculate the cost of items. Thinking of splurging on a $350 meal at the price-fix restaurant everyone has been talking about? Convert that cost into the amount of time you had to work to pay for it. Realizing that it took you two days of work may make you think twice before booking the reservation.
  40. Remember that material purchases won’t fill emotional voids. You won’t be happier or less lonely if that stunning piece of art is hanging on your wall. You’ll simply be out the $500 it cost to buy it.

Below are items that will help get your finances in order.

How do you plan to curb your spending in 2016?

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