They’ll get you into a new money mind-set.
The unconscious spending you do in the age of one-click buying and $4 coffees adds up and can even be a significant contributor to debt. If you’re saving for a big goal, whether it’s a family vacation, a wedding, or a new car, one of the keys to success is initiating conscious saving and spending habits. Here are a few ideas to transform your spending habits.
- Start by valuing experience over spending. Things we think of as purchases often come down to being with people we love and paying a premium for it. Having fun where money is easily spent tends to cause more spending. For Dawn Cutcher, senior vice president at Huntington National Bank, the light bulb went off when she realized that $20 trips to the ice cream shop with her twins could be turned into fun ice cream parties at home. A little bit of mom ingenuity and a $4 half-gallon of store-bought ice cream did the trick. “It’s OK to start small,” Cutcher says. “Saving is a long-term strategy.”
- Watch those little indulgences. Most of us have at least one habit that eludes our thrift. It may be morning coffee at a chain, or a stop at a fast-food restaurant instead of a supermarket. The problem isn’t the one-time spend, it’s the 20-time spend. For Terry Clark-Jones, financial management educator for Michigan State University Extension, it was the vending machine at her office, costing her as much as $60 a month for drinks she could buy for $5.50 a case and bring to work. “I’ve saved fifty dollars each month that I can redirect to something that is more important to me.”
- Put your phone bill on a diet. If you’re on an old cell phone plan, talk to your provider and ask how you can save money, because plans are often updated in a competitive market. If you don’t have a family plan, consider one. If you’re on a purchase plan for your phone, mark the date the term ends in your calendar. After that you can shop around. Phone companies don’t like to lose customers, so you have a voice in getting the best deal.
- Review your family’s TV habits. With so much content online, your family may be watching less premium stuff than you agreed to pay for years ago. If you have cable TV, check viewing habits against the bundle you bought way back when. You can also take a trial vacation from cable and see if you miss it.
- Kill payments for unused services. Pour yourself a nice cup of coffee one Saturday morning and comb through credit card and online bank accounts. Look for automatic renewals on apps, games or media services that you or your family don’t use anymore. Automatic bill paying is a good debt-avoidance strategy, but keep an eye out for small stuff you forget, like trial periods that have ended.
- Let your Huntington app deter impulse buys. Before any significant purchase, especially a one-click online buy, get in the habit of checking account balances with your Huntington mobile app . Knowing where you stand will help you focus spending and avoid frivolous purchases, Cutcher advises. You can also use the Hub, Huntington’s new digital experience, to help you monitor spending and earmark savings for a specific goal.
- Remember, it’s not saved until it’s set aside. Track the money you save, and transfer that amount to a designated account on a weekly basis. Match that balance against your goal, and adjust accordingly. You can use Hub to track savings goals. You can also work with a Huntington banker to set a savings strategy. As you monitor your success, you can move on to bigger challenges, like retirement or saving for college. Watching your savings pile up is a great feeling you’ll definitely get used to.