Money-Saving Micro Habits to Help Reach Your Goals

The best way to break bad habits is by gradually replacing them with good ones. These micro habits are simple, yet over time they can completely transform your relationship with money.

Who wouldn’t want to have more savings, less debt, and greater financial freedom? Depending on your current money situation, those might seem like things that only happen to other people—you know, the people who are actually good with money, unlike you.

It’s never too late to change your spending and saving habits. Even better, you can start making those changes right now by adopting micro habits. These minor adjustments to how you interact with money will pay major dividends in the long run.

Set Small Goals

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When your goals are too big, they become overwhelming. Not only that, but you may get discouraged because it feels like you aren’t making meaningful progress. Chop those big goals up into smaller ones that are more easily and quickly attained. You’ll feel good about yourself every time you reach one, and that will boost your motivation to continue changing your financial habits.

Review Your Budget Every Day

During the first part of your day, sit down with a notebook or a spreadsheet and review your budget. Are you on track for the week, month, and year? Do you plan to spend any money today? Are there any parts of your budget that need to be tweaked? Think of it as a living document rather than a rigid set of rules. That will help you adapt to unforeseen circumstances—and to regroup if you break your budget.

Wait Before You Buy

Delayed gratification isn’t something that’s hard-wired into our brains. Luckily, when we exercise even the tiniest bit of self-discipline, it’s surprisingly easy to break the habit of making impulsive purchases. Set yourself a time limit—an hour for a small purchase, or a few days or weeks for a bigger one. If you still want to buy whatever it is at the end of the waiting period, then go for it. But chances are good that you’ll have forgotten about it by then.

Keep Your Home Organized

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What does cleaning have to do with saving money? A lot! When you’re disorganized, you may end up losing or damaging things. If you’ve ever searched the entire house for a screwdriver, given up, and bought a new one, only to find the original screwdriver later, then you know what a money-sucking habit disorganization can be.

Track Your Spending

This simple money micro habit is something that everyone can benefit from doing. Whether you prefer to use an app, a spreadsheet, or a notebook, dutifully write down every purchase you make each day. It’s a good idea to note the time and place of the purchase—along with your mood if you’re prone to emotional overspending.

Read More: Best Budgeting Apps for Couples

“Tax” Yourself a Dollar for Every Purchase

Want to see your savings account grow faster than you ever thought possible? Impose a one-dollar “tax” on yourself every time you make a purchase. Deposit that dollar in a special savings account or go old-school and use a glass jar stuffed with bills. Not only will your savings grow, but you’ll also stop to think if swiping your card is worth the “tax.”

Save Every Windfall

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Financial windfalls often seem like an excuse to treat yourself. Whether you get a bonus at work, receive a check on your birthday, or just find a dollar on the street, those windfalls might start burning a hole in your pocket as soon as you get them. Instead of giving in to temptation, deposit any unexpected money into your savings account.

Rotate Entertainment Subscriptions

The average person in the United States pays $47 a month for streaming entertainment—and that number is only expected to grow. Most households subscribe to at least four different streaming services. Do you really need all of them at the same time? Try to pick one or two platforms that you want to use that month or quarter, then swap them out for different services when you’ve watched everything you want.

Make Coffee at Home

It has to be said: picking up coffee from a café every day is a really expensive habit. Brewing it at home is much cheaper—and it has the potential to be better for you, too, if you skip the sugar-loaded blended drinks. If you don’t drink enough coffee to warrant brewing a whole pot every morning, then make a jug of cold brew concentrate. It’ll keep for about a week in the fridge, and you can enjoy it iced or hot.

Delete Saved Payment Information

Do you make a lot of purchases on your computer or phone? It’s so convenient to save your payment information—but it’s not so great if you’re trying to save money. Deleting your saved card details has the added benefit of keeping your information safer from would-be hackers and identity thieves.

Keep Your Receipts

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Raise your hand if you tend to crumple your receipts and toss them aside pretty much immediately! Get in the habit of saving your receipts instead. Not only will this make returning an item much easier, but you’ll also have records of your purchases to compare to your bank statement. In addition, if you plan to take itemized deductions on your next tax return, you may need those receipts. If you don’t want to keep track of all that paper, then consider installing a receipt scanning app on your phone.

Read More: Unexpected Tax Deductions

Establish Shopping Windows

No, I don’t mean “window shopping.” Shopping windows are planned periods of time when you can stock up on certain types of purchases. Clothing is a great example. Many of us buy clothes when we find a bargain or just whenever we feel like it. Instead, you could plan to shop for clothes during the last week of each season. You can save even more money by shopping for big-ticket items when they’re the cheapest.

Increase Your Contribution by 1%

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In finance, 1% can make a huge difference. If you’re currently contributing the minimum for your employer-matched 401(k), consider upping it by another percentage point. Your paycheck won’t change that much, but your retirement account will grow so much faster. You can apply the same “1% won’t hurt” principle to other savings goals, too.

Check Your Credit Statements Every Month

Do you check your credit statements every month before paying the bill? If not, you could be overlooking fraudulent charges. Always reconcile the purchases on your statement against your spending record or receipts. If you see something that doesn’t match up, call your credit card company immediately.

Set Up Automatic Saving or Investing

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The hardest part about changing your habits is putting in sustained effort. There’s no shame in automating your savings or investing deposits. Many banks offer automatic rounding up on purchases, with the extra pocket change going straight into a savings account. Acorns is a popular app for automatically saving or investing your money, or you could set up an automatic investment plan to transfer money on a set schedule to an investment fund.

Set a Financial Affirmation

Affirmations might seem a little cheesy, but they work! Think about your ultimate financial goal: buying a house, retiring early, living debt-free, traveling more, etc. Now think about what you’ll have to do in order to reach that goal and frame it as an “I” statement. Some examples of financial affirmations include:

  • I save before I spend.
  • I deserve financial freedom.
  • I have a rich, abundant life.  

Balance Your Checkbook Daily

Balancing your checkbook is still essential, even in these days of online banking. Your bank balance might not update immediately after a purchase; credit cards are often even slower to update. You could find yourself spending money you don’t actually have if you aren’t careful. Write down your purchases and then subtract them from your bank balance in a ledger or spreadsheet at the end of the day. It won’t take more than a few minutes, but it can save you money and stress in the long term.

Read Grocery Store Shelf Labels

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It can be very difficult to know if you’re getting a good deal at the grocery store based on the package alone. That’s why you should get in the habit of reading the shelf label, too. Most labels will display the price per ounce, which can help you decide if it’s actually cheaper to buy one product instead of another.

Plan Your Meals Every Week

While we’re on the subject of grocery shopping, let’s look at one of the biggest unsung heroes of the budgeting world. Meal planning ensures that you buy only what you need and have everything to cook three to seven days of healthy, nutritious food. No more wasting groceries—or wasting time debating about what to have for dinner. Best of all, meal planning cuts down on unplanned takeout or drive-thru expenses.

Unsubscribe from Sales Emails

There’s a good reason why retailers want you to sign up for promotional emails. Getting those deals delivered straight to your inbox increases the likelihood that you’ll buy things you don’t need. Unsubscribe from everything (except maybe the ads from your favorite grocery stores) so you won’t be tempted. After all, if you don’t know about the sale, then you can’t shop it!

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