Stop! You don't need to spend that. Everyone can save money without really trying. It's about evaluating day-to-day decisions more rationally.

Question everything

So often our behaviour is driven by what society tells us.

We may, for example, think that we have to upgrade our car before it starts costing us in repairs. Or so the narrative goes. Yet the maths on this just doesn't add up. Or we fall for the received wisdom that if we don't send our kids to after school maths classes they've got no future in life.

Want less

Wanting stuff is psychologically unsatisfying. You think owning XYZ is going to make your life better. But the rush is short-lived.


I've started a Swedish death clean, which involves reducing your belongings based on what your relatives might have to do with that stuff when you're gone. I can really see how simpler life is without this stuff.

The Swedes start this process in their 50s. Not buying it would have been a better idea.


Like cleaning your teeth, a little regular budgeting can make your life a whole lot better. I've started drilling down into supermarket transactions so that items such as wine and chocolate come under different categories than "groceries" giving me a truer picture of essential and non-essential spending.

Focus on the spending categories you know in your heart aren't necessary. Online budgeting tools, such as, make it quick and easy to single out unhelpful spending.

Avoid premium products

I love blueberries - but I can't bring myself to buy them because they're always packed in plastic.

Thanks to the zero waste movement I try, for environmental reasons, only to buy loose fruit. The outcome of this waste reduction campaign is that I spend less money on branded food, be it blueberries or anything in fancy packets.

I finally relented and upgraded my five-year-old dog-slow phone. The new one is a Huawei, which has less of a premium than the Samsung or Apple name, but it's fast, was a steal, and does all I want.

My teenagers have given the beast the thumbs up and have commented on how much less I spent than I could have.

Review automatic payments

What leaves your account automatically each month? Whatever it is should be reviewed annually. Shop around for utilities, insurance, or whatever else it is that you've allowed organisations to dip into your account for.

Watch the fritter factor

Do you buy Coca Cola in the service station or grab an Uber instead of walking five minutes? This is frittering and adds up to a whole lot of wasteful spending.

Fisher Funds founder Carmel Fisher wrote that early in her marriage the fritter added up to more than her mortgage.

Make it last longer

We're always telling ourselves we need a new car, new clothes or computer for reasons that aren't always true.

I visited a family last week who, when they needed more bedrooms, simply carpeted the internal garage. That's a lot cheaper than upgrading to a bigger home.

Get yourself a mantra

Mine has always been "do I really need this?". When I remember to say it and am truthful with myself the answer is usually "no". A few other ideas include: "Saving feels better than spending"; "Will I use it?"; "Can it wait?"; and "Have I saved this month?".

Consider the psychology

We all think we are masters of our money, but even the experts are finding out more about how our psychological makeup stops us behaving sensibly and logically. Read a book: my current favourite is Dan Ariely's Dollars and Sense. Another goodie is Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich's Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes.

Finally, it's down to each individual to choose to spend less and live within a budget. No-one can do it for you.