Saving money is crucial to long-term financial success. That’s one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned in 2017.

It’s so easy to swipe our credit cards, hit that “check out” button, Venmo a payment, or make a PayPal purchase that sometimes our money floods out of our bank account without us realizing how quickly it’s leaving.

Luckily there are so many ways that we can incorporate the act of saving our money into our lives, even if the very idea of it sounds too hard or intimidating to even try. To combat this I’ve outlined seven small lifestyle changes you can implement into your life today to start saving money without feeling like you’re depriving yourself!

Adopt the Delayed Gratification Technique

You know when you’re out shopping or scrolling through your social feeds and see something that you just have to purchase? Next time you have that urge, don’t act! Make a mental note of the product you’re lusting after and…wait. See what happens.

Do you constantly think about how much you liked it or how it could fill a practical need in your life? Does it frequently pop back into your head, even after days or weeks to come? Or do you forget it ever existed?

Adopting the delayed gratification technique can not only help you weed out the things you truly need from the things you merely want, but can also give you more insight into how much you even want it. If you find yourself constantly envisioning a certain product, item, or device in your daily life, you’ll know that it’s something you should consider purchasing. And chances are you’ll forget about those needless items that would have otherwise been impulse buys!

Embrace the Art of Meal Prep

I get it — life is busy. I include that sentence in one way or another in nearly every article I write, because it’s often an excuse I come up with to talk myself out of doing something I should be doing. That is especially true when it comes to food.

It’s incredibly convenient to swing by your favorite restaurant on your way home from work when you’re busy. And midday food truck stops? After-work glasses of wine? Don’t even get me started.

Food prep for saving money is key. Evaluate what you’re spending every week, and if you find that you’re spending significant amounts on food to-go, cut that out as soon as you can. Plan your meals in advance and dedicate time each week to preparing food in bulk quantities. When you have that food ready-to-go in your fridge, you’ll be surprised as how much more often you’re willing to eat at home (and how much more money will be in your bank account because of it)!

Invest in Quality — It’s More Important than Quantity

All too often we value quantity over quality, especially with our purchases.

For example, buying a slew of inexpensive clothing from a fast fashion brand might feel like you’re getting a good deal, when really investing that same amount of money in one or two superior items from a higher quality brand is smarter in the long run — your items will last longer, therefore eliminating the need to repurchase them.

I try to take this approach to all my purchases — clothing, computers, podcasting equipment, kitchen items, and really anything that I find myself using often. It’s so important to invest in high-quality products that will stand the test of time. You’ll find that when you slowly build up a collection of nice things around you, you’ll need to replace or repurchase fewer items.

Use the 5-Question Rule

Next time you find yourself preparing to make a purpose, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Is this a want or a need?
  2. Do I truly need it?
  3. Do I seem myself using it often?
  4. How often?
  5. Is this purchase worth the time?

These five questions are incredibly important for determining if a purchase you’re about to make is actually worth the money. Do you find yourself often purchasing food you don’t eat? Kitchen tools you don’t use? New tech tools you never touch? Clothes you don’t wear?

Forcing yourself to honestly answer the five questions above can stop you from making unnecessary purchases that you’ll end up regretting.

Ditch One (Pricey) Bad Habit

If you want to eliminate your excess spending without making any drastic changes to your lifestyle, start with one simple habit that you could easily live without.

For example, do you hit happy hour multiple times a week with your coworkers? Decide to go on Fridays only, and limit yourself to two drinks max. Do you swing by your favorite cafe every morning to pick up a $6 flavored latte (and maybe a muffin)? Buy a bag of ground coffee from that same cafe and make it at home. Love to switch to the new iPhone right when it comes out, regardless of any fees? Make yourself wait until your current contract has ended.

Determine one habit in your life that tends to be pricey, and set a goal that you’ll either eliminate it or significantly modify it to save money. Taking those tiny leaps can mean major money savings over time!

Embrace Living With Less

This is a big one for me — try embracing life with less stuff. I know how it feels to get caught in that trap of spending just to spend. When you work hard, it can feel really good to make a purchase. To buy something for yourself that you really want. That new car, new camera, or those new clothes.

But if you can resist those urges and learn to feel happy with what you already have, the money savings you experience can be exponential.

Devote your time and energy into your side business, pour yourself into your next creative project, and focus your efforts on your entrepreneurial goals. Trust me, you will experience so much more fulfillment from any of these things than you will from making a purchase.

Bonus Tip: Take an Inventory of Your Recurring Costs

These days, it’s so easy to swipe your card for a new subscription…and then completely forget about it! Spend some time analyzing your bank or credit card statements.

Do you have a television or music subscription that can be eliminated? Do you have a gym membership that you never use? Did you sign up for a monthly subscription box that isn’t necessary? Cutting down on these items could mean an extra $20-$100 every month in your bank account without feeling the effects of it at all!

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Personal development is a lonely journey, and as Professor Oak once said, you shouldn’t go at it alone. Click here to join the group now.