10 Tips for Spending Your Money Wisely

By Alene Laney · July 01, 2024 · 9 minute read

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10 Tips for Spending Your Money Wisely

If you feel like your money vanishes almost as soon as you get paid, you’re not the only one. Fortunately, there’s a way to remedy the problem — by learning to spend your money wisely.

Being wise with your money means being thoughtful and accountable and helping it go further to get what you want. It’s about having a plan so you can spend as well as save money for a vacation, an emergency fund, or even start that business you’ve been dreaming about.

Being wise with money is not about how much you make. It’s how you spend it and manage it so you can optimize your quality of life.

Why Spending Wisely Is Important

How to spend money wisely is not a skill taught in school, and many families don’t feel comfortable discussing money openly. Which means many of us are in the dark when it comes to putting money in a savings account and understanding how to budget and not overspend.

Plus, the world is full of enticing new things to buy, and our phones, computers and TVs are full of images of people dining out, shopping, and traveling. The idea of spending limits is often absent.

But if you’re serious about learning about how to reach your financial goals and not having too much debt, you can adopt habits that will help. It’s not about living a life of deprivation at all. But spending money a little differently is likely to be on the agenda.

When you start learning how to spend money correctly, you can get on top of your budget and your financial life. That’s a great feeling of accomplishment and independence. Plus, it sets you up for good money habits for years to come.

Here are 10 ideas for how to spend your money wisely.

10 Tips for Wise Spending

1. Not Trying to Impress Others

When you buy something, check in with yourself and make sure it’s something that is truly for you and not something you’re buying because you feel you’re “supposed to,” or “everyone else is getting one.” These purchases can wind up being very expensive and even disappointing.

Cars are a great example. There are many vehicles that may be adequate for your needs, but you might end up buying an expensive car that looks impressive and wind up living above your means. Being stuck with an unmanageable monthly payment is uncomfortable and adds a level of stress to your daily life. What’s more, if you default, it could hurt your credit score. So work towards buying just what you need, not status items.

2. Not Eating Out or Splurging Every Day

Small splurges every once in a while aren’t going to kill your budget, but a regular habit of them can put a dent in your financial fitness. Everyday spending habits can make or break your budget. Perhaps it’s not eating out that is costing you; maybe it’s ordering things online or picking up the tab too often when you and your best work buddy have a quick drink. All the small purchases you make add up over time and wind up undermining your plans to improve financial health.

To make sure you’re spending wisely, be sure to have a budget for your splurges. It’ll feel good knowing you have a plan to spend on fun things while also putting money away in your bank account. For instance, if you’ve been getting a pricey takeout coffee most mornings as a treat en route to a busy workday, try dialing it back to a Monday and Friday splurge. Eventually, you may decide to skip it completely and drink your java before you leave home.

Recommended: 6 Tips for Making a Financial Plan

3. Setting Reminders for Bills to Avoid Late Fees

One thing you don’t want to do is spend money on late fees, interest, and other costs.To make sure your bills are getting paid on time, automate your payments as much as possible and set reminders so you’re never late.

4. Using a Journal of Transactions to Avoid Frivolous Spending

A journal of transactions can help keep you accountable to yourself about where your money goes. Truly, there’s nothing more eye-opening than seeing how much you’re really spending in a month. Reviewing your transactions can help you learn how to spend wisely.

For example, you might not realize how often you use ride-share services. You may think you only call an Uber “in emergencies” but then realize those emergencies are happening a couple of times a week. A journal can help you truly get a grip on overspending and dial it down.

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5. Having a Monthly Budget

A monthly budget is nothing more than a plan for how you want to spend your money for the month. When you have a plan and a goal, you can train your brain to forgo things that are not important and save for things that really matter to you.

Which kind of monthly budget to set up depends on your personal preferences and needs. Some people love apps which automate the process and can show you how your money and spending break down. Others prefer using a spreadsheet or journal. Some find systems like the envelope method or 50/30/20 rule helpful. Do a bit of online research; you may spend more wisely once you find a system that suits you.

6. Figuring Out What Habits Eat Up Your Budget

After you’ve tracked your expenses, it might be shocking to see where your money is going. You might have a few habits, such as shopping too often or splurging on gourmet dining, that take up more of your budget than you would like. Or you might have signed up for a number of streaming services when you only really watch a couple of them.

By identifying what is burning through your money, you can then take steps to spend more wisely. Changing up a few of these habits can help you stretch your budget, save more, and spend your money wisely.

7. Putting Money on Your Credit Card When You Can Afford to Pay It Off

As of June 2024, the average credit card interest rate is more than 24%, making this one of the most expensive ways to finance a purchase. In a nutshell, you wind up paying a 24%-plus surcharge if you buy things with plastic and don’t pay it off right away.

Using a credit card wisely is key. Charge up no more than 30% of your credit limit (though less is better) to keep your credit utilization ratio low. And pay the bill off ASAP to avoid owing interest.

8. Thinking About Long-Term Effects of Purchases

The average American spends approximately $150 on impulse purchases each month, data shows. That’s $1,800 a year for unplanned purchases. If spending wisely is your goal, you should ask yourself: Wouldn’t that money be put to better use elsewhere, such as a vacation or in savings?

One way to curb impulse spending is to acknowledge the emotional component. Some of us shop when we are feeling bored, angry, or sad. Purchasing some cool new gizmo or a great jacket can be a distraction and a mood booster. One strategy to help short-circuit this emotional spending can be to imagine the item in your house and how it will look used a few years from now. If you can visualize its future (being out of style, faded, worn, or broken), you might not want to purchase it in the first place. That may help you realize that the item isn’t as vital as it feels when you are shopping.

You might also want to consider the long-term financial impact the purchase will have. If you make a lot of impulse buys, these costs can either snowball due to interest or shadow your finances for years to come.

9. Tracking Your Finances Daily

Following your money closely can help you spend wisely. Fortunately, there are easy ways you can keep track of your spending in today’s technology-rich world, including money-management apps. These can connect your bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and more to give you a snapshot of your financial health.

If, say, you see that your credit card balance is climbing, you might decide to cook pasta versus ordering takeout that night. Or perhaps you notice that with a recent rent increase, you are struggling a bit to cover all your expenses. That trend might convince you to economize some of your spending or start a side hustle to bring in more cash.

10. Knowing How Much You Can Actually Spend

A key part of your budget should be knowing how much you can actually spend in a month, as well as how much you should save per month. It sounds obvious, but many people don’t do the math. Figuring out and then hitting those numbers is important when you are focusing on spending wisely.

While the average household spends more than $6,000 each month, your number will likely be different as it is unique to your circumstances. It’s wise to look at your take-home pay and see how much the “musts” (food, shelter, health expenses, and anything else needed to survive) cost every month. Next, assess what debts need to be paid. Do you have student loans you are paying off? Credit card debt you are whittling down? Subtract that from your earnings, too.

Then, you don’t want to spend every penny of what’s left. It’s important to also dedicate some funds to saving, whether that means for a down payment for a home, for retirement, or for an emergency (or for all of those). Budgeting $25, $100, or more a month to savings can help you reach your money goals. You might have that amount automatically transferred on payday from your checking account to savings accounts so you can help keep your cash safe vs. spent.

Managing Your Finances With SoFi

Spending wisely is a key step towards financial health. Often, we fall into shopping and splurging habits without realizing where our cash is going. By tracking your spending and starting some smart new habits, such as finding the right bank account and regularly making deposits into it, you can save more and rein in spending without feeling deprived.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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What is the smartest way to spend money?

The smartest way to spend money is to spend according to your means and your values. Figure out how much you want to save, whether for a vacation, a new car, retirement, or something else, and how much you owe for expenses, and create a budget. Then, your spending needs to fit within that budget, including planned-for splurges. Be sure to track what you spend to stay accountable.

How can I manage my money wisely?

If you’re looking to manage your money wisely, use the tools available to you. There are apps that help you track your money and budget, or you could use a journal or spreadsheets. Put some time into finding a system that suits your goals and lifestyle.

How do I start saving?

One way to start saving is to open a savings account and automate your deposits. Have a certain amount transferred regularly from checking into savings, for example.

Photo credit: iStock/millann

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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