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Hi everyone! I was just editing a piece of content about using direct deposit to boost your savings, and it caused me to wonder what tricks and mental hacks you all use to help you save money or cut back on spending. 

I have two that I use:

1. I hack my reward system. This is something I picked up from the Calm app (which I am obsessed with and use every day!) The idea is to make your brain's reward system to work for you by refocusing yourself on what will really bring you some lasting pleasure & satisfaction as opposed to those quick hits of momentary happiness that may seem tempting in the moment but fade pretty quickly. 

I started out using this for fitness goals - will I be really happy with myself if I stay in bed and skip my morning swim, or will I be happier in the long run if I leave my bed and go swim laps? - but I've found it's transferrable to all sorts of things in my life. It definitely requires a level of mindfulness to execute though, and I know that can be tough for people, especially if they've exhausted their discipline reserves for the day.

2. I have a 48-hour cooling period before making a purchase.  If I see something I like, I make myself wait a couple of days.  If I still want it after my cooling period ends, then I will buy it. (It's remarkable how many things don't actually meet this criteria!) 

What mental hacks do you use to keep your spending under control and to increase the amount of money you save?

I work with The Penny Hoarder's editorial team. I'm a mom to two cats and a greyhound, and I'm a runner and triathlete who is also trying to be the best at exercising.

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hi
i'm starting to learn about coupons to save money.
all so like at holiday time when i see some thing i
want i'll tell myself that it will be on sale after the
holidays. well i did this year and when things was
50 percent off i still didn't buy any thing. even throw
my daughter kept bugging me for thing i still didn't give
in. than at 75 percent it was still a no i didn't need it.
but when things dropped to .13 and .12 cents than i
got my daughter a couple of canning jars and the store
still had things i wanted and i still said no our daughter
like its only .12 cents i told her i don't need it.

I'm unplugging the toaster and other things around the
house to.

I'm looking into other store for more bragines to.

Hey Caitlin, I love your point about hacking your reward system. That's a really great tip I'll have to implement, especially for working out and even getting up in the morning. (I work late some nights and don't get to sleep till 1 or 2 then I have to be up by 8 for my next shift. Mornings are brutal for me, and it's either get up on time and catch the bus, or enjoy a - not so blissful - stress filled twenty minutes of trying to convince myself to get out of bed before I have to pay for a $13 uber to work. 

I started taking cash and a calculator to the grocery store every week. I realized that I had a habit of just buying everything on my list, so even though my grocery budget was $40, I would spend closer to $60 or even $80 on groceries for two people for the week. But when I only have cash on hand, I know I have to prioritize bread and peanut butter over Pringles and queso. 

And it's not a mental hack, but my Dollar General prints out a $5 off coupon store wide at the end of the receipt. I can use that to buy toiletries, frozen veggies, pasta and sauces, then swing over to publix to get my fresh produce and everything else. $5 off a week saves an extra $20 a month. 

I have heard of the "cooling period" principle before and it is something that I need to implement more myself.

One mental hack I have been trying to train myself to think about is how little stuff I actually need and use. By placing less importance on the things I own and more on the experiences and people in my life, I in turn have the desire to purchase less stuff.

This saves me money and also turns my mind in the opposite direction and gets me thinking about how I can get rid of stuff or buy stuff that I can resell at a profit, which in turn also makes me money!

I am an hourly worker, so I calculate how many hours of work I'll have to put in to be able to afford my purchase.  My advice for anyone, but especially poor people such as myself, is don't think of yourself as a temporarily embarrassed millionaire.  You don't have to have the latest gadgets, fashions, and other things you can't afford.  Learn to say "I don't freakin' need it."

With all the great advice, it's almost impossible to add more ideas. Therefore I would go with mindset, because there is a fine line between want and need. Then there is also bulk options with buying groceries for instance. 

Now I'm not sure about the US, but we have stores like Makro for instance where you can buy in bulk. In some instances everyday items can be almost 50% cheaper that in ordinary grocery stores. And yes, I know not everyone can afford to buy in bulk. But trust me, work your way toward that and you can save over 40% average on your monthly groceries. 

This is also not done every month. Personally I only do grocery shopping once every 2 - 3 months. And since I have adapted to this, I have a lot more money to grow that little nest egg. 

I love to make it a game to not spend money for our day to day activities, by using gift cards I win or earn with points, redeeming rewards, coupons, etc.

Last August while my oldest was on a free kids city tour for the day (he got lunch, snacks & tons of useful swag), I was able to treat my youngest to a walking foodie tour of our town.  We got fries, cookies, ice cream & slushies from different locations, played in a couple parks & skipped rocks in the river.

I'm trying to plan activities for my 2 kids without spending money for their 2 weeks of spring break.  So far, I have registered them for 2 afternoon activities at our local library.  Bass Pro Shops has a couple activities listed so far that my kids would love but I need to cover the gas to get there (maybe points will get me a gift card for gas).  I know that we can go bike riding along the river trails, to the local parks, get movies from the library etc too.  I will pack all our snacks & meals from home, but I do have a $10 gift card to a french fry chain at the malls.  I need to check if Apple stores, Home Depot & Lego stores will be offering free activities too.

I have started to stash some freebies for Easter too as I got some coupons for free candy.  

I like to call my mental hack for saving money a "lifestyle diet". I quit all of my indulgences like going out to eat, late night J. Crew purchases, and morning cup of Kahwa COLD TURKEY and replace them with creative, frugal substitutes. Pinterest will provide you 100 different ways to use your crockpot you never knew existed. Pinterest will teach you how to style your old sweater by tucking it into the bottom of your bra strap, add a beret and voila! Chic! Is that new?! Pinterest is basically the answer to repurposing your existing wardrobe for free, making an amazing dinner for cheap, and jazzing up your home brewed cup of joe for less than a dollar. I am lucky enough to have a gym as an amenity at my apartment building, but if you were paying for a gym membership elsewhere, you could also substitute some killer moves with...you guessed it: Pinterest. 

Keep a change jar. //Take out a set amount of cash each month for groceries, gas, eating out and fun. When it's gone, it's gone. //Have a plan for leftover cash. Put it towards something important to you. A trip? Giving to an organization? Make a game of saving. // Learn new skills and do stuff instead of paying someone. Fix stuff instead of buying new.// Think long term. Plan for future needs. Save for the next car instead of paying interest on a car loan.// Don't be squeamish about used stuff. 

What I do save my change and then roll it, banks give out coin wraps for free, no need to buy them. Then before you know it you have spare money to either save or wisely spend. And then something breaks in the house or car.

Now that we are retired  (I hate that word) we are finding that we are not as frugal as we used to be. What are we saving for and how much are we saving, guess this is a turning point? Another chapter, as people say.

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