Here at AW our group members have a variety of financial goals, from boosting income to debt reduction and long-term planning. This week, we are looking at something that will benefit all those goals: cleaner spending i.e. less waste and clutter.

Spring Clean Your Spending

Lately I’ve been inspired by the idea of getting really good at spending. The first step in our spring cleaning this year is to get rid of our financial waste and bloat. I’m not going to use the B-word because even thinking about it can send people on a spending spree. But I do encourage tracking your spending as an easy way of identifying clutter.

I’ve been playing with different ways to keep things clear and tidy around spending, i.e., becoming a better spender, and I found a lot of waste. Here are three areas that you might want to look at to see if there is any waste you can get rid of.

Little things that add up

Subscriptions: These are the sneakiest category because we may sign up for something at half the cost one year, and the following year it doubles. There are some subscriptions that are absolutely worth it, some that are probably causing some bloat, and some that are seasonal. One thing I like to do in spring is cut down on streaming services. We tend to watch more television in the colder months because it gets dark earlier and we spend more time indoors. But in the spring and summer, we don’t need that much inside entertainment.

A great subcategory on this topic that deserves its own attention are app subscriptions: what are you subscribing to, and Marie Kondo style, is it bringing you joy? Also, are there any mystery charges that you aren’t quite sure what they are for, but since they are only small amounts, you haven’t taken the time to dig into them? It turns out we have quite a few of these mystery charges from paying for additional storage that we don’t need because we are syncing all our photos with Google Photos instead of iCloud.

Literal waste

In our household, our largest spending category outside of housing and tuition is food. This is also an area where there can be a lot of waste. If you want to spring clean this area, here are a few questions that might help you:

  1. What is your biggest area of food waste or bloat? For example, are you throwing away a lot of food or eating out more than you would like? 
  2. What is one tiny habit or change that you could make to waste less, i.e., how can you make it harder to waste or eliminate that form of waste altogether?
  3. How can you put that change into action today?

Spending Smarter

I was wasting money on self-care expenses like acupuncture and chiropractic care by not regularly funding my HSA account. Now I make a monthly transfer so that I know there is money on the card and can use it when I’m seeing a practitioner or picking up a prescription.

Are there any areas where you could spend smarter? Perhaps there is an area that requires a little extra research or like in my case, preparation, that would lead to smarter spending. Usually when you check in there is an area you haven’t looked at that you’ve been meaning to – take this as your nudge to do just that.

Keeping it Clean

When you spring clean your spending, think about it in the same way as you would spring cleaning your home or office. It’s getting rid of extra stuff that you aren’t using or don’t need, which feels good. The same goes for spending; you are getting rid of the extra stuff you are spending on that you don’t use or need, and that feels really good.

When you’ve done that, you don’t think, How can I fill up this space again? or What can I spend this money on instead? You keep it free and clear.