Stop Wasting Money in 5 Minutes or Less

Ben Stegner 08-11-2016

The most basic principle of getting in financial shape is to save more and spend less How To Start Saving Money And Stop Spending With 4 Easy Habits 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... Read More . Every dollar you don’t spend on something frivolous is one you can save for something important. Unfortunately, while this is easy to discuss, it’s a lot harder to live out in practice.


We’ve recently talked about ways you could be wasting money without realizing it 15 Ways You're Wasting Money and Not Realizing It You're wasting a lot of money, and you might not even realize it. Plug these 15 leaks and save hundreds every year! Read More . Let’s continue this conversation and review some simple ways that you can stop wasting money. Whether in the form of mindsets or software, implementing these little tricks will help you keep more cash in your pocket.

1. Have a Price in Mind for Purchases

It’s a basic fact that a sale is made when a buyer and a seller agree on a price for a trade. If Apple is selling a MacBook for $1,500 5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a MacBook Looking to get a MacBook for cheap? Here are some useful tips for saving the most money when you buy a Mac laptop. Read More and you think that’s a fair price, you’re willing to trade for it. Conversely, if a store wants to sell a pack of pencils for $100, they’re probably going to have trouble finding a sale.

Use this to your mental advantage. Take a minute to think about the price you’d be willing to pay for an item before you see how much it costs. If you walk into the store knowing you need a new sweater and can pay $30, don’t buy anything over that price, because it’s not worth it! You can look elsewhere to find a seller that meets your preference. That one minute could save you quite a bit of money.

2. Delay Purchases to Prevent Emotional Buying

Humans are really great at talking themselves into actions, which can lead to problems. Vendors have capitalized on this trait — how many times a day do you see panic-inducing phrases such as “One-day sale!”, “Only ten left!”, or “Pre-order now Watch Out! These 7 Game Pre-Order Bonuses Are Total Rip-Offs One source of outrage in the gaming community is pre-order "bonuses" that consist of pathetic toys, unfair advantages, or carved-out content. Read More !”? It’s easy to get sucked into a purchase before you even realize what you’re doing.


You can combat this by forcing yourself to delay all purchases by a set amount of time. See a hot deal online Find the Best Daily Deals with These 7 Sites These seven websites do the hard work for you so you can always be in the right place at the right time to save some cash when shopping online. Read More or in store that gets you excited? Close your computer (or go elsewhere in the store) and go do something else for a while. Even five minutes can be enough to help you think more rationally. After the emotion goes away, think about how good the price actually is. If it still seems like a logical purchase, you’re probably safe buying it.

3. Learn Some Basic Repair Skills

This one might not apply to everyone, but depending on what you often purchase, you can save a lot of money by picking up some basic fix-it skills 7 Tips to Save Money on PC Repairs Need to fix your PC but don't have enough money? Here's how to make simple PC repairs that save money on PC repair shop prices. Read More . If your kids often tear holes in their jeans, learn to sew and save a ton of money on new pants. Spend a few minutes on YouTube Learn To Draw Anything Thanks To YouTube [Stuff to Watch] Whether you're having trouble drawing facial features like eyes or haven't got a clue how to tackle a 3D perspective, it's YouTube to the rescue! Read More to learn basic car maintenance and you’ll save a fortune on taking it to a mechanic.

Of course, if you have to spend an exorbitant amount of time to learn the skill, it’s probably not worth your time if the replacement cost is small. But for minor breakages, a bit of love can keep items that you already own functioning just fine.

4. Take the Time to Make a Grocery List

Technology can help you save a lot of cash on groceries How to Use Technology to Spend Less on Your Groceries There are tons of places you can save money, and the grocery store might be the most important. Here are a variety of ways to save at the supermarket. Read More , but a good old-fashioned grocery list still has its place, too. Wandering into the grocery store without a plan is a recipe for a lot of wasted money. You could wind up buying stuff you don’t need, since supermarkets are known for using tactics to tempt you to buy more.


Spending the five minutes to make a pen-and-paper list (or a list using an app! Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps Check out these awesome grocery shopping list apps to help you stay organized! Read More ) will cut down on wasted time and money in the supermarket. Stick to items you need at that time, and you’ll come out better for it.

5. Limit the Spending Tools in Your Pocket

You can know all the mental tricks, but if you have the ability to spend money, you eventually will. Thus, it’s a smart idea to limit your access to payment methods when you go somewhere with a high spending potential. Take a couple minutes to prepare yourself before you go.

When you go to the mall, only take enough cash to buy what you’ve budgeted for and expect to buy. Leave the credit cards at home unless you’ve specifically planned to use them. To remove all options, make sure to remove your credit cards from Android/Apple Pay on your phone Everything You Need to Know about Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay all have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at exactly how each of them works and who can use them. Read More so you don’t cheat by paying with your mobile.


6. Keep Your Savings Goals in Mind

Most people have trouble starting to save money. Putting away money that you could be spending now feels like you’re depriving yourself. By rearranging your thinking, you can stop thinking of that money as “lost.” 5 Genius Money-Saving Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Sometimes it seems that no matter how much money we earn, we never have enough. How does this happen? And how do you fix it? Read More

When you go out to eat and have to decide between ordering water and a drink for $2, think about what you’re saving towards. That $2 could go into your vacation fund, or towards buying a new 4K TV What's the Difference Between 4K and Ultra HD (UHD)? Thinking of buying a new TV or monitor but confused by the differences between 4K vs. UHD? Here's what you need to know. Read More , or whatever else you’re saving for. Just a few seconds spent thinking about your goals regularly will help you stay excited about saving.

7. Review and Reward Your Savings

Continuing on the last point, it’s important to keep up with your savings and reward yourself as you progress. Schedule some time, perhaps once every two weeks or once a month, to check your savings and set mini-goals for yourself. If you’re trying to save $1,000 for a trip, treat yourself to a movie at the $250, $500, and $750 milestones, for example.


Obviously, you don’t want to make the celebration too expensive, as this will cut into your goals. Done in moderation, though, being more active with your savings 8 Easy Steps for Building Better Money Habits Building better money habits is hard, but these eight principles will help you stick to your new routines and meet your financial goals. Read More is a great way to make them come alive and keep you motivated.

8. Stay Accountable With a Friend

Accountability partners can help 13 Practical Tips to Get More Done, One Thing at a Time This is the age of multi-tasking. But is it productive or is it our biggest stress villain? Evidence says that you can get more done by focusing on one task at a time. Read More with a lot of struggles. If you’re trying to stop smoking, it’s a lot harder to sneak a cigarette when you know that you’ll be asked about it the next day. The same principle applies to spending money, and you can use it to your advantage.

Team up with a friend who’s also trying to save money, and chat for five minutes once or twice a week about your major purchases. To keep this brief, you can skip unavoidable expenses like gas and rent. Focus on non-essential purchases, whether they be a $5 coffee treat or a $700 TV.

To take it further, have each person share the purchases they plan to make before the next meeting. Reviewing the planned and actual money spent is a great way to stay accountable.

9. Block Shopping Websites

Just like leaving your credit card at home prevents overspending in a store, if you can’t get on eBay or Amazon, you won’t spend money there, either. We’ve discussed how to block time-wasting websites How to Really Block Time-Wasting Websites: 3 Tips That Work Finding yourself unproductive because of distracting sites? Block time-wasting sites with the help of these tips and tools. Read More like Facebook, and you can apply those same tips to blocking any website where you’re likely to waste money.

Have a set time for shopping on websites, but only allow yourself to do so once you’ve adequately prepared — and try to keep time spent there to a minimum. Only unblock the sites and make purchases when you’re ready. Otherwise, keep them blocked to avoid temptation.

10. Don’t Let Sites Save Your Payment Info

Convenience makes it easier to spend. Amazon is infamous for this. From its One-Click ordering to Dash Buttons (which can be hacked to do all sorts of cool stuff What Is Amazon Dash? And 6 of the Best Hacks You Should Know Wondering what Amazon Dash Buttons do, and looking for the best Dash Button hacks? Here's an introduction to these devices, plus the best hacks for them. Read More ) Amazon wants to take your money with as few clicks as possible.

You can fight back against this by taking a minute to remove your credit card details from websites. Force them to ask you for the details every time you make a purchase. Believe it or not, the extra step of having to walk into another room and break out your card might be enough to change your mind about buying.

As a bonus, this can help protect you from credit card fraud How Credit Card Fraud Works and How to Stay Safe Credit cards and gift cards are regularly stolen. How do thieves get your card? How can you keep safe from credit card fraud? Read More online.

What 5-Minute Tips Do You Have?

Saving money doesn’t always require hours of laborious calculation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing your mindset or setting yourself up for success. By implementing one or all of these tips, you’ll be on a good path to keeping more of your money and wasting less.

If you find most of your money going towards technology purchases, find out how you can still enjoy awesome tech without breaking the bank 4 Ways to Prevent Your Tech Obsession From Sucking Away Your Money Where the heck did all of your money go? Your obsession with technology may be the culprit. Read More .

Now I want to hear from you. What quick tips or mental hacks do you use to cut down on extra spending? Add to the list in the comments and let’s discuss!

Related topics: Money Management, Save Money.

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  1. cmcollins001
    November 9, 2016 at 12:37 am

    We have 3 bank accounts. One is the household account, strictly for bills and household expenses. She has her own account and I have my own account. We have our paychecks direct deposit a majority of the paycheck into the household account and the remainder into our other accounts respectively. Whatever we have in our own accounts we can spend however we want. Whatever is in the household must be discussed if it is above and beyond the normal household bills. All household debit cards/checks are left at home.

    When we adhere to this it works great. We just started doing this partway through 2016 and had an unexpected trip which put us in a not so comfortable financial position, so the goal for 2017 is to get back on track. When we reach a certain level in the household account above and beyond what's needed for bills, we'll transfer a percentage into a savings and/or CD.

    Also, I have a Google Sheet with everything already budgeted out for 2017 with the known paycheck incomes and bill debits. If we purchase anything unplanned, I can add a new line and plug that in and see how it will affect things in the future. Think of a prefilled check register and I just mark the items that clear and keep track of the current bank account balance.

    Now it's just up to self control and accountability.

  2. Doc
    November 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Wow. These all seem to be ways of *tricking* yourself into not spending. If you don't have the willpower to *not* buy something, none of these will help.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 8, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      Well, that's kind of the point. I can't force someone to not buy stuff, but I can provide ways to help set them up for success! If you find yourself impulse-buying items online, removing your credit card from those sites helps you slow down and may prevent that purchase.