5 Simple Ways to Spend Less This Year

8:55 PM

Last year, we moved overseas. "Saving" didn't happen. We actually thought we were doing well. We managed to sell or give away all of our stuff, bought plane tickets, and managed to have a little bit of savings in our bank accounts when we arrived in Taiwan.

Then we had to stay in a hotel longer than we expected.

Then my son got sick.

Then our insurance didn't kick in (and still hasn't).

One thing I've learned is that even if you can't actively save a lot of money, you can reduce your expenses. There is almost always something you can do to minimize the amount you spend. Whether you try to reduce your expenses per week, per month, or per year is up to you. Both my husband and I get paid once a month, so for me, planning to save per month makes the most sense.

If you're like me and want to save more money this year, here are five sure-fire ways you can reduce the amount of money you spend overall.

1) Cut out the big vacations
We all love traveling. There's nothing quite as exciting as packing your back, jumping on a plane, and heading off for a world of adventure. Unfortunately, traveling is rarely cheap, and even if you find a cheap destination, multiplying the cost by four (or however big your family is) can make "affordable" become very, very, unaffordable. This year, consider cutting out your big family vacation. I'm not going to suggest you take a smaller, crappier trip. Instead, why not save and then next year, take a huge vacation?

2) Wait before you buy
You don't need to buy that today. You probably don't even need it this week. I think for many of us, the hardest part about saving money is that things tend to break. Maybe your microwave went out or your tablet died. Do you really need a new one today? Do you? Can you really not wait a week or two or five? Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you really need it. You might be surprised that while you're dependent on things, you might not actually need them.

3) Cancel, cancel, cancel
Magazines, subscription boxes, cable, Netflix, whatever. Just cancel.

4) Stop trying to impress
If you've been spending money to impress your friends, you need to stop. You also need better friends, but that's a post for another day. Whether you've been buying your kids piano lessons they hate or joining clubs you can't afford, you need to just stop. The only person you need to impress is your spouse.

5) Consider your goals
The simplest way to save money, for me, has always been to focus on my goals. What do I want this year? What do I need? What do I hope for? Personally, I want to publish more books, help other moms learn to downsize, and help my kids improve their language abilities. I want to learn Chinese, finish a few novels, and explore my new city. Before I spend money, I ask if this is something that will help me with my goals. For example, will buying a new book help me become a better writer? Absolutely. It's money well spent, at least for me. Will buying a new pair of jeans help me become better at speaking Chinese? Um, not so much. That's probably something I don't need right now.

Remember that no matter what your goals, hopes, and dreams are for this year, you can reach them! Most importantly, you can save money while you pursue your goals. You just have to be conscious and willing to make a few sacrifices along the way.

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