Finance Self Improvement

How To Start Saving Money And Stop Spending With 4 Easy Habits

Mihir Patkar 12-01-2015

One of the top new year resolutions on many people’s lists is to spend less and save more. It’s easier said than done, but you can still rely on several apps and tools to help you out.


Saving money is not just a goal, it’s a change in lifestyle. In fact, it’s like forming a good habit and breaking a bad one. It won’t happen overnight, you have to keep working at it over a long period, and there will be slip-ups. The best approach is all about making your transition from spendthrift to money-saver as smooth as possible.

Make Need/Want/Wish Lists to Prioritize Your Spending


If you’re spending more, you are probably buying more than what you need. It happens to everyone. You had no intention of buying that new gadget, you don’t really need it or want it, but in an impulsive moment, you grabbed it — probably because it was on sale. We don’t think that well, especially when we see a too-good-to-be-true deal.

You need to stop your brain in its tracks. Just like it’s common money advice to make a shopping list before you go to the market and stick to it, you have to do that for all potential purchases. Don’t open up and then think about what you can or can’t buy.

Make three separate lists: need list, want list, and wish list. In the need list, write only the things you need to buy i.e. items you will buy before it comes to a point that you have to borrow for it. In the want list, write the things you want i.e. items that you will buy if you have saved money for them. In the wish list, note any items that you would like to have, but you can’t afford.


Here’s how to use it: You don’t buy anything on the wish list till the want list is crossed off. You don’t buy anything on the want list till the need list is crossed off. You have to add items to this list as you think of them, so use a cross-platform, versatile app like Wunderlist Wunderlist: Easy-To-Use, Versatile & Cross-Platform To-Do List Manager Read More . The key is the discipline not to buy from one list till you’ve completely crossed off the other.

Haggle To Get Discounts By Comparing Prices


Consumer Reports recently reported that 89 per cent of people who bargained got a better deal. Unfortunately, too few people like to haggle and instead pay the price they see. The top tactic that worked? Comparing prices with competitors. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, you need to treat it like any desirable habit — a lifestyle change that you have to achieve.

Thankfully, your smartphone makes this threat a whole lot easier to carry out. Of course, you can just head on over to and search for the same item, but there’s no guarantee that Amazon will have the best price. You might want to try RedLaster to quickly compare prices from your mobile ShopSavvy: Scan Barcodes To Quickly Compare Prices [Android, iOS, & Windows Phone] Quickly scan a bar code and compare prices – with stores nearby or stores on the web. ShopSavvy is an app that uses the camera on your phone or tablet to interpret bar codes, telling... Read More . All you need to do is scan the barcode and the app will tell you prices from other stores.


PriceZombie is a more comprehensive website to find the best shopping deals Save Time And Money: PriceZombie Brings The Deals To You With the vast number of places to shop online, it can be hard to find the best deals. Let PriceZombie do the work for you and save you lots of cash. Read More . But this money-saver isn’t that great to use on your mobile. Still, it’s worth visiting for its price tracker feature, which will show you the rate of an item over recent history, so you know how low it can go.

Keep A Visual Reminder Of Your Debt


Just like motivational quotes can spur your productivity, The Simple Dollar recommends creating a visual debt reminder to keep your spending in check. It takes hardly any time: all you need is a way to track your debt and a photo of what you will buy once you achieve your goal.

You can do the whole thing in a spreadsheet app quite easily. Ryan has detailed how to make a personal budget in Excel in just four steps Make a Personal Budget With Microsoft Excel in 4 Easy Steps Do you have so much debt that it will take decades to pay off? Make a budget and use these Excel tips to pay off your debt sooner. Read More . And Google Sheets has a bunch of useful, free templates for financial needs 7 Money Management Tools in Google Drive You Should Start Using Keeping track of your finances on paper can get messy. Use these expense trackers and templates to manage your finances instead. Read More .


Bakari has covered the best iPhone apps to track your spending 5 Simple iPhone Budget Apps for Tracking Your Spending Apps like Mint and Goodbudget have extensive features to help you stay on track, but what if you do not need or want all of those bells and whistles? Read More , but on Android, I find Debt Tracker to be best suited for our purpose. It’s well-designed and does its only job brilliantly: tracking how you are paying off your debt. There are also trackers for what others owe you, as well as your total savings. Debt Tracker Pro ($0.99) lets you back up to Dropbox and choose different icons for different credit cards or other debts, for a visual cue.

As for the visual reminder of your goal, there’s nothing like changing your PC or smartphone’s wallpaper to your object of desire.

“Spend A Little, Save A Little”


My personal trick, which has been quite successful, is called “spend a little, save a little”. I rely on Internet and mobile banking as a trigger to start saving more and cut down on spending. First, choose a target: what percentage of your earnings do you want to save? Ideally, use a round number, like 10% or 20%, to make calculations easy. For the sake of example, let’s say it’s 10%.


You will also need a second bank account, linked to your main account. Make this a Savings account, you won’t be withdrawing from here often.

Now, every time you purchase something, you start your mobile or Internet banking app and transfer 10% of your purchase to your second bank account. This second account is only for investments or expenditure that is not for you or your needs (like charity). And make sure you’re following the five vital security tips for smartphone banking 5 Vital Security Tips For Smarter Smartphone Banking As smartphones have become more capable, many people have begun to use them as a banking tool, and logging in to a bank account on-the-go is much easier and quicker via mobile data than any... Read More .

The more you do this, the more you think twice before buying anything. Suddenly, it’s not the cost of the item alone; there’s a 10% added surcharge on that cost, which makes you think twice about whether you really need to buy it or you’re just indulging.

Give Us Your Best Money Advice In 10 Words

The Simple Dollar invited its Twitter followers to give money advice in 10 words and compiled the best choices. We can do better, right folks? So tell us your best money insights in 10 words!

Image Credit: Money-Savings/Wikimedia, Gaertringen/Pixabay

Related topics: Money Management, Online Shopping, Save Money.

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  1. Dave
    December 20, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Make more money

  2. Dave D
    April 25, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks for recommending PriceZombie. I am using it to track my computer purchases across several stores. I didn't know that was possible till now.

  3. groovyspecs
    January 13, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I like the "Spend a little, save a little" tip. Definitely going to try that, thanks.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 14, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      You're welcome! Let me know how it goes :)

  4. Balamurugan R
    January 13, 2015 at 5:30 am

    There is one significant feeling or mind set for anyone who spends often, which is the difference between spending Hot cash or wire transaction. One wouldn't have this feeling while doing a wire transaction by just typing numbers in a screen compared to a opposite scenario of having cash in hand and spending it. But in today's world it is not a good idea to carry around cash. But in order to save a little , try handling cash. It might be a good start.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      "But in today’s world it is not a good idea to carry around cash."
      But, in today's world, online transactions are not safe. Just look at all the security breaches.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 14, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      I've read this advice plenty of times, that you are less likely to spend cash than digital money. I think it might have been true earlier, but it isn't any more, at least for me. My cash comes from my Debit card, I make digital transactions with the same card, there is no difference between the two and I'm aware of that. The wall of delusion is broken.

    • dragonmouth
      January 15, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      How many times have you heard the joke "I still have checks left so I can't be out of money!" or a variation?

      Debit cards are more like cash than like credit cards. There is a finite limit on debit cards, the amount of cash in the account. Credit cards are, for all intents and purposes, open-ended. They have riduculously high limits. The irony is that the more you spend using a credit card, the more the credit card issuer jacks up your credit limit. It's like you're digging a hole and the CC company keeps handing you a bigger and bigger shovel. I carry a only a small balance on my credit cards but if I wanted to, I could buy a nice house by maxing them out.

      Did you know that the more credit cards you have, the better it is for your credit score? You achieve the top score when you have more than 22 credit cards. You don't have to use them, you just have to have them in your name. Seems counter-intuitive.

  5. Brent Williams
    January 12, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Most young people think that there is no point to saving money, because they will all make a lot more money when they are older. For many, this is simply not true. And even if it is, good habits will carry over with you as you earn more, and bad ones will just the same. You will only get ahead in life by conserving your assets and saving. The keys to a successful financial life that you always hear from the experts are to:

    1. Put away the max in your 401k that your employer will match. For me 5% with a 4% match. For most people it is 3%.
    2. Use term life insurance like Suzy Orman and Dave Ramsey recommend, its only $15 online at Life Ant for instance.
    3. Save the difference to a Roth IRA. It comes out tax free.

    If you can have money deducted from your pay before you ever touch it, you have a real chance at getting ahead.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      "Most young people think that there is no point to saving money, because they will all make a lot more money when they are older."
      What they don't realize is that as you make more, you spend more. The feeling is that since you make more, you can afford to spend more. Low income people may live paycheck to paycheck but they do not have $10k or $20k credit card debt.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 14, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      Totally agree with both of you here. The mirage of "I'll save in the future" is the biggest deterrent to saving money.

  6. dragonmouth
    January 12, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    "Haggle To Get Discounts By Comparing Prices"
    Assuming you are purchasing something you NEED.

    Years ago I saw a cartoon which is pertinent.
    A wife comes home loaded with shopping bags and says to her husband "Look at all the money I saved by buying On Sale!" Of course the unsaid punchline is that if she had not bought the sales merchandise in the first place, she would have saved even more.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 14, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Agreed. I wasn't implying "just buy it because it's on sale", maybe my point didn't come across, sorry about that.

      What I meant was, if you're in the market for something and you see a price you like, don't just jump for it. Haggle!

  7. Pete
    January 12, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    The best visual aid?

    Switch to cash.

    Withdraw cash each week based on your food and other budgets: you made a budget right?

    Stick the cash in a tin (or piggy bank).

    You can juggle between budgets, but don't withdraw any more cash or resort to credit cards

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 14, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      I don't think that's always feasible. There are times you need to make big purchases, to think that I'd need to use cash for those is ridiculous; not to mention online purchases.