Achieving financial success isn’t always about following certain rules. Sometimes it’s about doing things differently. This is especially true if you have a pattern of bad money habits. Spending first and saving later, impulse shopping, and not following a budget. All these things can keep you in financial agony.
So if you want to get out of your financial rut, it may be time to do things differently.
10 Simple ways to do things differently
Doing things differently means stepping away from your old routines and bad habits to try something you’ve never done before. This includes trying things that might sound a little unconventional.
Yes, your old patterns and routines feel safe, but you can’t expect to get to a new destination by walking the same path.
If you’re ready to try something new when it comes to your finances, here are 10 ways you can start doing things differently to help you reach financial success.
1. Start with no spend days
Think about how often you spend money. Your bank statement probably shows daily purchases. If non-essential spending is leaving your account at zero, no spend days can keep your bank account out of the red.
No spend days are when you choose a day to spend no money. With the exception of necessities such as rent, electricity bills, and other essential things.
This means no online purchases, no buying coffee, no credit card purchases, etc. Here are some ways to get started:
Try a no-spend challenge
This challenge can be a fun way to practice not spending money on unnecessary things. For challenges, you choose a specific time period, such as a week or month, where you will not spend money on non-essentials.
Choose a day that works for you
When trying to do things differently, don't go overboard. For instance, if you need to buy coffee to get through your workday, don't start on a Monday. Try choosing a day where you’re most likely to spend time at home.
Fill your no-spend day with fun activities that don’t require spending money.
Enjoying yourself doesn't have to cost a lot of money. There are many low-cost and fun hobbies you can explore on your no-spend days. Try picking up that dusty guitar you once played.
Perhaps you can dive into a romance novel or try a new recipe. Use your no-spend days to re-spark an old passion.
2. Automate your savings
Similar to the expression out of sight and out of mind, the easiest way to accumulate savings is to automate deposits. One of the biggest ways to do things differently is to put money away before you can spend it.
Some no-hassle ways to start saving include:
- Signing up for your employer’s 401k.
- Setting up direct deposit for either 10%, 5%, or 3% of your income to go to your savings account.
- Automating deposits into an investment account.
Setting up your savings and investments to have automatic deposits is the easiest way to build wealth!
3. Change the way you shop
When shopping, it's easy to go for name-brand products. However, this usually means you are paying for the label and not quality. Here are ways to spend less and gain more when shopping:
Buy generic or store brand products
You probably have your favorite brand of mac and cheese or pasta. Instead of sacrificing your favorites, buy generic items such as spices, toilet paper, and pantry staples like sugar and flour.
These are often one or two ingredient products that don't have major differences from the name brand items.
Do a pantry audit before you go shopping
Often times you have more than enough food in your cabinet to make a meal. But you've gotten into a habit of buying new groceries. Take a look at what’s already in your kitchen and ask yourself what can make with what you already have.
By planning out a meal from products that have been hiding away, you can save time and money with short or less frequent trips to the store.
Make a list before going to the grocery store
Making a list of what you need and based on preplanned meals will help you be more intentional with your shopping. A grocery list may not sound like you're doing things differently, but it can help you stay focused.
Instead of second-guessing or getting distracted, you buy what you need. Make your list based on meals you'll make for the week. The goal is to only buy items that are on your list.
Look for manager markdowns
These are products that have been marked down at a lower price because they are close to their sale date. The great thing about these products is that you can often find organic and other high-quality products for a fraction of the price.
These markdowns are usually located in the meat and produce sections, or on shelves near the back of the store. While shopping, it's important to remember that a 30% off sticker is appealing, but you should only buy products you'll actually eat.
Look for products on lower and higher shelves
The layout of many grocery stores is a thought-out process. This is why you commonly reach for items at your eye level. Yet, the lower-priced items are typically out of your eyesight. Remember to give a glance at the shelves above and below your typical eye line for better savings.
4. Adjust your spending habits
Along with adjusting the way you shop, you can do things differently by changing your spending habits. Like all habits, spending is a learned behavior. Spending habits can make you unaware of how much you're spending and why. Common spending habits can include:
- Spending money immediately after getting paid.
- Buying something from the convenience store every time you get gas.
- Always covering a friend or co-worker's coffee or meal.
Spending habits aren’t all bad. However, when some habits leave your bank account on zero, those are the ones you need to reassess. Here are some ways to start changing some of your spending habits:
Track your spending
This can seem like a tedious task. Yet writing down every dollar you spend can help you become aware of how you spend your money. There are many ways to track your spending including apps and writing down purchases in a notepad.
We suggest trying to keep a spending journal! You track your spending AND how you feel when you spend the money. This helps identify and change habits.
Identify spending triggers
Spending triggers are things that prompt you to spend money. This could be walking past the discount aisle at the store. Friends inviting you to happy hour.
Or feeling frustrated with work and looking to retail therapy. By identifying what's prompting you to spend, you can do things differently and avoid these triggers and seek better emotional support.
Switch to using cash
Using cash helps you become more aware of what you are spending. Something as simple as knowing how much cash you need to take out of the ATM supports your decision-making when shopping.
Even counting out the money when making a purchase allows you to be more conscious of your spending. No more mindless swiping.
5. Declutter and minimalize
Finding the motivation to declutter can be difficult. Yet it can also be a key to unlocking your financial success. Decluttering is the process of getting rid of any unnecessary items in your home, office, or storage space.
It is a great way to see what you already have so you can stop buying what you don’t need.
Once you’ve rid your space of things that no longer spark joy the next step in doing things differently is keeping your space clutter-free.
An easy way to put this concept into practice is by adopting a minimalist lifestyle. This means living a life with less. Incorporating items in your life that add value, and don’t just take up space. A 30-Day Minimalism Challenge is a great way to start.
6. Stop trying to keep up with the trends
Are you guilty of spending hundreds of dollars to have the latest iPhone or the newest gadget? If you were honest with yourself, would you say that having the newest device is about new features or the feeling of admiration?
It feels good to possess something that is highly sought after. But is the short-lived gratification worth the daily financial struggle?
When the newest version of a cell phone or watch comes out, ask yourself, do you need it? How will that purchase benefit you in the long run? If you need a new device, do things differently by purchasing the second newest model.
Chances are it has similar features and still can provide you with what you need for a fraction of the cost.
7. Try a different way of budgeting
Popular to what mainstream information has shown, budgets don’t come in one size fits all. There are many ways to budget, such as:
The 70-20-10 budget
The 70-20-10 budgeting system allows you to allocate a percentage of money towards spending, savings, and giving. So, you use 70% for needs and wants, 20% towards your savings, and 10% towards giving.
The great thing about this budget is that it's easy to follow. It allows you to cover your basic necessities while supporting organizations and people you care for with the giving category.
The 30-30-30-10 budget
The 30-30-30-10 budget is where you allocate 30% to housing, 30% to needs (such as utilities, food, etc) 30% to debt/savings, and 10% to your wants. This is a great budget if you need support with controlling your spending.
With smaller budget portions, it can make it easier for you to achieve certain financial goals by putting your goals at the forefront of your budget.
The 60-30-10 budget
The 60-30-10 budgeting system divides your income into long-term investments, necessities, and wants. So, 60% of your income goes towards saving, paying off debt, and investing, 30% goes to your needs, and 10% goes to your fun money.
With this budget, a large portion of your income will go towards savings or investments. This allows you to achieve certain financial goals faster. If saving up for a big purchase or paying off debt is high on your priority list, this could be the budget for you.
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule is where you pay yourself 20% of your income and have 80% for necessities, bills, and wants. This is probably the easiest budget to follow.
It allows you to prioritize saving or paying off debt by putting away 20% of your income. Plus it gives you the freedom to buy what you want and need with the 80% leftover.
The bottom line is you can be the master and creator of your budget. If one way of budgeting feels too restricting you can manipulate the perimeters to work for you. And the happier you are with your budget the more likely you will stick to it.
8. Spend more time outdoors
Do you know what’s great about nature? It’s free. Spending time going for a walk, hiking in the mountains, biking riding along the pier. The cost of having a good time outside is close to nothing.
And an advantage of being outside is that it increases your vitamin D consumption and overall boosts your mood.
9. Do things differently by cooking more and eating out less
With Uber Eats, GrubHub and so many food options available with the click of a button, eating out while being at home can rack up a high price. Although it’s common to just pick up food curbside at your favorite restaurant, cooking can be a cost-saving option.
You can start by replicating your favorite take-out meals. Most often, you can find the recipes on YouTube or on cooking blogs.
By cooking, you can control how much you spend on certain meals. You can also add your flavors and mix up the ingredients to your preferences.
10. Prioritize your health
Making your health a priority sets you up for making positive choices with your money. Unhealthy habits such as eating fast food, and drinking too much alcohol can have costly consequences.
In addition, poor health can lead to long-term health problems that can result in higher medical bills. Put your money towards activities that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as buying more fruits and vegetables, hiring a personal trainer, or a dietitian.
Implement small changes to do things differently long-term
When it comes to doing things differently, this type of change won’t happen overnight. It will take time to establish these new routines and habits. Therefore it’s best to start with one change and work on implementing that into your life.
From the above list, ask yourself, which would be the simplest to start with? Perhaps you are moving soon, so decluttering would be a convenient place to start.
If you’re looking for a new hobby, joining a hiking group or starting an outdoor activity can be the change you need. Something as simple as being happy with your current cellphone model and not rushing into an upgrade can make a big impact on your finances.
Remember that baby steps are still steps! Even if you get better at doing things differently a little each day, that is still progress.
Commit to doing things differently to achieve financial success!
Doing things differently ultimately comes down to reflecting on your habits and routines.
Changing the way you shop, using more cash, and not buying into trends are simple ways to make better financial decisions. And these changes will benefit you in the long run.
Adjusting to or trying out new ways of budgeting, decluttering, prioritizing your health with cooking, and going outside more, are all ways to reach personal and financial goals.