Improve Your Spending Practices

The following is a guest contribution from Paul S. Richard of the Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE). The ICFE was founded as a non-profit organization in 1982 to help consumer improve spending habits, increase savings and use credit more wisely. Working in cooperation with government and business, the ICFE offers several certification programs with Continuing Education Units and Professional Development Units.

ICFE_BannerYoung Americans are taking retirement planning seriously. A new study shows they are “frantic” about having enough cash to live on after 70. The following tips will help consumers improve their spending practices:

1. Create a plan of action to make the necessary changes.
2. Construct a cash-flow sheet showing income and outgo.
3. Set up and implement a monthly spending-plan.
4. Discontinue use of all credit cards.
5. Collect cash purchase receipts.
6. Review insurance coverage for duplication.
7. Begin saving one dollar-a-day and all pocket change, every day.
8. Seek lower cost alternatives to spending, such as rentals, reconditioned products.
9. Utilizing cents-off coupons and mail in for rebates.
10. Wait for the sales. Comparison shopping can save more than 50 percent.
11. Take advantage of seconds, rebuilt and used items where practical.
12. Start doing things for yourself that others were paid to do previously.
13. Have meetings on improving spending with family members.
14. Separate shopping trips (when comparing prices, value, reparability, etc.) from spending trips (when actually making the purchase). Avoid carrying credit cards, much cash or a checkbook on the shopping trips.

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People whose spending may need a little mending in order to come within suggested budget and expense guidelines often discover they are paying too much for things because they fail to comparison shop. That practice, like borrowing to meet regular expenses, is another form of overspending. It is everyday spending decisions, and especially credit based spending decisions, that will cause severe erosion of one’s financial future.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. This is a pretty good tip that I think isn’t used enough -> “Seek lower cost alternatives to spending, such as rentals, reconditioned products.” I recently rented a bobcat and dump truck for about $400 for Saturday/Sunday. Such a good deal! The bobcat and dump truck would have cost thousands and thousands. Saved a lot by going the DIY route on my backyard project.

    • Nice! The wife is more of a DIYer than I am and she definitely saves us some money.

  2. Take only the cash you need in your wallet and leave all of your credit and debit cards at home.

    • Yep, definitely a good practice. No – or less – money on hand means a lower probability that you’ll be the victim of an impulse purchase. Thanks for stopping by, Amy.

  3. Really good article. I love that paying too much for services is referred to as overspending because that’s exactly what it is!

    • Some good tips. I was pleased to see that I’m already practicing most of them.

  4. Some good tips. Having a plan for your money and sticking to it it the best thing you can do for a great financial future.

    • Indeed. And the earlier you start the sooner you can take advantage of all the goodness of compound interest. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation, Brian.

  5. I actually do pretty well in most of these areas already. The one I am looking forward to trying is the last, ‘Separate Shopping Trips from Spending Trips.’

  6. Great list. I’m doing many of these unthinkingly. Number 7 is new to me, most of my (pocket) change ends up in the hands of homeless. I will create a space near the doorway at home to empty my pockets coming in and going.

    I give myself a nominal cash allowance each pay period, once I spend it that’s it. I have not been accounting for those purchases, usually coffee, FROYO, oatmeal, etc., while at work and again probably a good amount of that to homeless asking for a handout. Collecting cash receipts is something else I will implement.

    • The wife and I have been saving loose change and $1 bills (and the occasional $5 bill) for years. We typically use the accumulated funds for long weekend excursions … the next is planned for San Diego in the near future. I wrote a post about the practice soon after blog started back in late 2013.

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