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7 Unconventional Ways to Spend Less Than You Earn

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Carrie SmithGuest Blogger
June 10, 2016 · 1.5k Views

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of overspending and getting off track when it comes to budgeting. Some bad money habits just add up over time and we just need to hit the reset button! If you’ve ever made it to the end of the month and wondered where all your money actually went, here are 7 unconventional thing syou can do to help you spend less than you earn.


1. Open multiple bank accounts

open bank accounts

Source: The Balance

It may sound counter-intuitive but having multiple bank accounts will help you spend less money, and I’ve personally proven this method over the last 6 months. Most individuals only have two or three bank accounts -- a basic checkings, savings account and/or a rainy-day-fund. But I have an account for pretty much everything, from car maintenance expenses, to summer travel, to paying my rent and even lasik eye surgery funds.

I used to struggle with paying the rent and finding money to get my car fixed, but now I have the money stashed away for this exact expense! And I simply started with something very small, like $10 a week. Having multiple accounts helps you keep on track because you know the exact category your money’s going to and what things you’re buying. Think about it, if you have all your money sitting in the same account, it so much easier to accidentally spend those funds on the wrong stuff.

2. Never pay full price

With as many deal sites like DealsPlus that share bargain offers and coupon codes that are readily available with one quick internet search, there’s no reason you should ever pay full for anything. There are ways to find coupons for household items, food, and toiletries you regularly purchase.

Plan your purchases ahead of time and don’t be afraid to negotiate for the price you’re willing to pay. With sites like Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, and FreeCycle you can pretty much find anything for free from people who are more than willing to give them away.

3. Unsubscribe from retail newsletters

Source: Pic Jumbo

Every morning before starting work, I wake up and check my email and without fail I always have to sift through marketing and shopping emails from stores I subscribe to. Nothing tempts me to make impulse purchases like receiving a “last-minute” deal or a “limited-time only” discount email from a retailer.

You know what I’m talking about, right? We’re all guilty of spending more than we earn on stuff we don’t need, and retail newsletters are a big contributor to this. I also have a bad habit of seeing something on Instagram and clicking over to make a purchase from my mobile phone.

Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor by unsubscribing from (or unfollowing) store email lists so you’re not tempted to make purchases on the fly. You can always re-subscribe later once you get your budget back on track.

4. Use a prepaid debit card

Similarly to the point I made about having multiple bank accounts, once you load funds onto a prepaid debit card, it forces you to stick to a budget. If the balance on your card is nearing zero, you simply can’t afford to buy anything else until you refill it.

Much like with cash, if you are using a prepaid debit card you have no chance of being overdrawn or overspending. Using a prepaid debit card is a great way to spend less than you earn on a monthly basis.

5. Regularly audit your bills

Source: U.S. News

Whether you’re aware of this or not lifestyle inflation is a huge contributor to spending more than you earn. As time goes by, and prices increase, lifestyle inflation creeps in without much notice, but if left unchecked it can derail your financial goals.

Sometimes cell phone companies will add on extra charges, or a purchase will post to your credit card twice and if you’re not regularly auditing your bills, you’re losing out on my money. It’s also important to evaluate whether or not all the money you’re paying out for subscription services is still being used. If you no longer need a specific service, cancel it until you want to use it again.

6. Commit to a spending challenge

When I felt my debt was getting more and more out of control, I put myself on a 60-day cash-only spending challenge to help reign in my spending. This is something that’s smart for all individuals and families to do from time to time, to hit the reset button.

SEE ALSO: Save an Extra $1,300 a Year With One Easy Trick

There are lots of challenges you can commit to, from no-spend days, to a spending fast, to a year-long shopping ban. Start small and choose a spending challenge that you feel you can successfully stick to, then work your way into the more difficult ones over time.

7. Delay purchases for 24 hours

Source: The Kitchn

Ever go to the grocery store while very hungry and noticed that you mysteriously have more bags of groceries than you normally come home with and a bill to match? Me too! Going grocery shopping with a sort-of sense of urgency from hunger can be dangerous and cause you to overspend.

Take time to distance yourself from the immediate situation and the heat of the moment in order to stave off a ton of damage to your bank account. Before making large purchases, or buying on impulse, give yourself 24 hours to really consider if you really need what you felt so passionate about buying yesterday. Delay them for 24 hours and see if you even remember needing them. If it sticks around, then it’s probably something you should buy, otherwise ignore it and pocket your savings.

You’re not going to be perfect with your spending every single month, but these tips will help you decrease your spending so you can save more of your hard-earned money.


carefulcents profile picture
Hi, I'm Carrie Smith! I'm a financial writer and small business expert who helps freelancers build client-based businesses through meaningful relationships. I have a background in small business accounting and taxes and recently won an award for Best Entrepreneurship Blog for my site,

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