One of the biggest misconceptions about money is that in order to have more of it, we have to sacrifice what we love and live a lower quality of life.
- Saying no to dinners out with friends
- Eating all your food out of cans
- Clipping coupons like a boss till TLC calls you to feature you on TV because you’re such an extreme couponer
To this I say: NOT TRUE.
Good news! It doesn’t always have to be that way. There are a lot of ways to keep more money in your pocket if you’re creative.
As Christians, this matters. Our money isn’t actually ours—it’s God’s. We want to manage it well. The less money we spend needlessly, the more money we have to make an impact. (And avoid icky debt!)
Here are five creative ways to hang on to more of your own money, and they’re not sacrificial financial habits. These are actually non-financial habits that will indirectly save you money:
If you get up right when your alarm goes off, you’ll have more time in the morning. Duh, of course, but have you thought about what that extra time could do for you? An extra 10-20 minutes has endless possibilities, such as:
- Making your own breakfast, coffee, or lunch (a habit that will not only make you healthier but save you some moolah on convenience food or beverages throughout your work day)
- Throwing some food in the crockpot so you don’t end up getting take-out later
(This magical alarm clock has totally changed the way I wake up in the morning, by the way. Who knew this was a thing?!)
2. Taking action on mail as soon as you open it
Get into the habit of acting on mail as soon as you open it. Allow yourself 10 minutes to deal with the mail when you first take it out of the mailbox, or set it aside to open later in the day if you have to. The goal is to touch everything only once if possible. Make decisions, take action, move on.
My goal is to pay any bills (and the occasional parking ticket, ugh) right away so I don’t forget to pay them and also save money on potential late fees. You may also notice an error on something you receive, but thankfully you’ll have plenty of time to deal with it thanks to your great habit of taking action on your mail right away.
We learned this lesson the hard way with a $1900 medical bill, a painful story with this moral: We would have saved money had we looked into the charges sooner because we would have stopped using that pediatrician who was actually out of network!
Here’s another idea—something I do myself: As soon as you get an invitation for an event that requires a present, buy that present right away or at least put it on your shopping list. If I get a wedding or baby shower invite, I immediately go on that person’s online registry and buy a gift to be shipped to my house. It’s not only super convenient and saves me time/money to go to the store to buy something, but I’m also less likely to buy other things while shopping online for that gift versus in-store. Plus, if you check out the registry before it gets picked-over, you can filter the items by price and have your choice of plenty of gifts within your desired price range. (I always try to buy a gift that’s on sale if that’s an option so I can get as nice of a gift as possible for my budget.)
By the way, if you are a couponer, dealing with your mail right away might also mean that you come across valuable coupons you can use before they expire.
3. Getting good sleep at night
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve all read the scientific studies that show that sleep is good for you in countless ways. We know this. Have you ever thought about the fact that the sleep hours you bank each night are actually helping you bank more money?
Many of the ways that sleep is good for you will also save you money. More sleep means being sick less often, which means you’ll save money on doctor’s visits, medication or vitamins, and missed days from work. More sleep also means you’re more likely to make better choices and be less hungry, which translates to less impulse buys and overeating on junk food. (We’ve all done it.)
As a Christian life coach who helps women minimize overwhelm and focus on what matters most, I am all about simple health improvements, and this is one of those.
Getting more and better sleep doesn’t require you to drop tons of money on a specialist or that you do a bunch of research, so why not prioritize it? I personally aim to do my best to take care of my health in the simple, free ways (sleep, moving my body, drinking water, etc.) so I can keep the amount of money I’m spending on more costly health improvements more minimal.
Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on medication or supplements when something as simple as sleep could have prevented some of that spending? Let’s not choose the lazy, expensive way out!
4. Shutting down the kitchen and ending snacking at least an hour before bed
I know, it seems strange to watch Netflix without a bag of chips in your hand, but if you’re able to get into a habit of turning off the lights in the kitchen and ending your snacking for the night by a certain time on weeknights, you won’t just see the results next time you go jeans shopping.
Think about how much money you spend on junk food late at night when you’re not actually very hungry. Wouldn’t it be great to have all that money in your pocket instead?
Note: You might need to buy smaller jeans but bigger pockets. (Sorry, that was super cheesy, but I couldn’t resist.)
5. Being present when you’re out in public (as in, not on your phone)
Shopping or eating out without your phone out constantly isn’t just a good habit so you can enjoy your surroundings and the people you’re with.
It can save you money, too.
It’s hard to know how many times you’ve paid more for something than you should have because you weren’t paying attention.
Put your phone away when you’re checking out at Target or when the check comes at a restaurant and you might pick up on some errors that would have resulted in being overcharged.
There’s the list—5 good non-financial habits that save you money, too. The power of habits has gotten a lot of buzz lately for a reason (there’s even a best-selling book called The Power of Habit if you’re especially interested in this subject). As you think about all the types of habits you could try to work on and cement as a routine in your life, why not consider habits that will serve you in multiple areas?
What are your ideas for habits that save you money? And what would you do with the extra money you save?