As with most things in life, it’s often harder to do what’s right than to do what’s wrong. Eating all the sweets is so much easier than resisting that cupcake. It’s hard to bring yourself to get to the gym after a particularly indulgent weekend. One of the worst things is having to save money. It’s so hard to sit out on time with friends or miss out on that flash sale because you’re trying to finish paying off loans or finance that international trip next year. Even though you know what you’re doing is right, it doesn’t make it easier.

Whatever it is, know that you don’t have to miss out on life just because you’re trying to take it easy on the spending front. There are some simple ways to move forward and live your life, while also saving more of that paycheck. Check out some tips below. 

Have a goal

It’s not easy to cut back and reduce if you don’t really have a purpose. It’ll be so much easier to bring leftovers to work or skip out on that extra drink if you know you’re working toward that next great vacation or down payment. It might just take sitting down and figuring out a concrete goal amount you want to save, regardless of whether there’s a specific purchase or event you’re looking forward to. What’ll be best is if you are able to write down this goal somewhere that will keep it at the front of your mind, like your planner or on a post-it note at your desk.

Plan ahead

The easiest way to save money is to have a plan. It’s those moments when you’re at the grocery store without a list and an empty stomach, or at that local cash-only spot and stuck with an eminent ATM fee. The absolute worst is having to buy something pricey out of necessity while you’re out of the house when you know you have a ton just lying around at home, like an amusement park sweatshirt. It’s essentially money down the drain because not only did you not want it in the first place, but it’s also so tacky you know you won’t ever wear it again. Just knowing what you’re doing during the day or night and planning smartly prevents any unnecessary purchases.

Track your savings

It’s hard to save when you don’t even know how much you’re spending! Kick-off the New Year by keeping track of what you spend over the course of a week (or at least a few days). This way you’ll have a sense of where a lot of your money is going towards. You can determine what areas you are happy with and what areas could use a little slimming down. As most addiction counseling programs tell you, the first step to recognizing you have a problem is admitting it to yourself. Your problem area might be eating out all the time, or taking too many Ubers after work. Whatever it is, the first step to getting your finances in order is figuring out where your finances are going.

Automate savings

If you know you want to set aside a certain amount of money from your paycheck every month, take the thought out of the process and make sure it happens before you even get a chance to second-guess. Set-up automatic bill-pay where you can so you don’t get charged late fees, and automatic transfers to savings for whatever amount you need. This will make your life so much easier for you.

Think green

A lot of times, being eco-friendly goes hand-in-hand with being wallet-friendly. The basic maxims of reducing, reusing, and recycling are a great way to not only help Mother Earth, but also help your bank account. By reducing your consumption of electricity and power, reusing items like takeout containers, and recycling old clothes to the consignment shop, you’ll be able to help out the environment. Even taking the bus instead of calling a ride-share is a smart way to kill both stones at once. Whatever you do, it’ll feel good knowing you’re working smart not just on behalf of yourself, but the world as a whole. 

Try thrifting

Instead of constantly going to the mall for new clothes, be sure to check out your local thrift store or consignment shop for finds. They’ll not only have stuff that’ll be in this season. Don’t just limit yourself to clothes at these places, though. Be sure to check out their offerings in terms of home furnishings or kitchen supplies that can help you furnish your home. 

Put some thought into purchases

Sometimes our spending habits aren’t even out of necessity, but emotions. For example, if you grew up going to the mall with your parents as a treat for doing well in school or winning a competition, you might associate a shopping spree with rewarding yourself for a job well done at work. If you are used to eating a ton of take-out when you’re stressed, maybe it’s because Chinese is your standard comfort meal at home. Whatever it is, there’s a way to channel that energy into something that doesn’t require spending. Recognize why you’re making certain purchases and find alternatives. Reward yourself with some quality time with friends or learn how to make your own Chinese food from home instead.

Get crafty

Not everything requires a new purchase. You can create or DIY much of what you need around the house, especially storage and decor-related things, on your own. It’s only a thrifty way to spruce up your home, but it’s also a great way to insert a more personal touch into your home. Check out a few of our suggestions here and here.

Use your local library

A lot of public libraries have features and member benefits that eliminate a need for things you’ve been paying for the last few months. For example, some libraries offer free subscriptions to programs like Hoopla, which is an Audible-like app with thousands of audiobooks available for listening. A lot of libraries also have passes for fun attractions around your city, like the zoo or museum. Check out your local library and see where your tax dollars are going!

Have a no spend schedule

Pick one day a week where you know you won’t have much going on, and designate a no-spend day. This means that your spending is going to be as close to zero as possible. This will require you to prepare meals ahead of time, by either stocking up your fridge or utilizing leftovers. It’ll also prevent you from your usual habit if stopping in at the store just to “browse” and coming out with 4 items you didn’t need. Obviously, if something’s a necessity, like adding money to your metro card to get to work, you get a free pass. But other than that, try and have a day every week to reset and stay conscious of your spending.

Invite friends over

It’s so easy to drop a ton of money just on one night out with the girls. There are so many things to take into consideration – drinks, cover fees, transportation, and tickets. Keep costs down and invite the friends over instead. Plan a fun group activity like doing face masks or cooking a group meal. Having them over is also a great way to make your space feel like a home. It’s a lot more fun than trying to avoid sloppy people at the club or the crowds at the bar.

Invest in your health

The easiest way to avoid incurring huge medical bills is to invest in preventative medicine. This means maintaining a healthy lifestyle – drinking water, eating your fruits and vegetables, exercising more, and going to your annual physical. These are incredibly simple ways to work on your health to stave off any preventable health issues that could saddle you with huge bills. Having better health means you’ll have more energy to do what you love, and not have to worry about anything but being your best self.