Want to reset your spending habits? Start by taking stock

6 min | 23 October 2023

The Chase team

The cost of essentials is going up. But there are positive ways you can slow your spending and focus on what really matters.

As the cost of essentials – household bills, fuel, groceries – has risen, non-essential spending such as fashion, eating out and TV subscriptions has slowed.

Half of Chase’s customers who responded to a survey on spending habits in May 2023 believe they need to pull back on non-essential spending, and 77% are focusing on putting more money away.

A good way to improve your finances and slow your spending is to take stock of what you already have. This has two major benefits. First, you'll cut down on any unnecessary spending. Second, you’ll get accustomed to being more creative when it comes to using what’s already there.

We take a look at four areas where you can take stock – and how you can start to refocus.

Refresh your wardrobe and slow your spending

Consider taking a few hours to sort through the clothes you’ve got. Do they all fit? What haven’t you been reaching for? And why not?

Taking stock can help you understand what your staples are, where it’s worth investing and what items you aren’t getting much value from. If you do need a new item for your everyday wear, a good question to ask is: would I be willing to repair this? The answer should ideally be yes.

If something needs repairing, consider learning how to do it yourself. Challenge yourself to become more practical and creative. You could ask someone you know who sews to teach you – or search online for mending tutorials.

Nick Hatter (Opens in new window), a leading UK life coach, believes we can all learn from the world of enterprise: "Among start-ups, there's a great money-saving mantra: do not buy what you can rent, do not rent what you can borrow, do not borrow what you can beg, and do not beg what you can salvage."

"Start-ups have to operate very cost-efficiently and are often able to achieve a lot with very little. You might be surprised by what you can do with some creative and resourceful thinking."

Give your home a new look for less

Nearly a fifth of Chase's customers surveyed plan to reduce spending on furniture. But cutting costs doesn’t mean you can’t refresh your space – or look at it in a whole new light.

There are plenty of upcycling communities and influencers online to offer inspiration and guidance. So, if you have furniture that needs a refresh, consider getting creative to breathe a new lease of life into it.

"You might also want to practise the art of Feng Shui and minimalism. Sometimes less is more – especially when it comes to living spaces. Your space needs space", says Nick.

"Try decluttering – and notice the difference it can make to your space as well as your sense of serenity and state of mind. Put things away in cupboards and keep out only what is truly essential – which is often very little."

Rethink your food storage to save

Anyone who's worked in a kitchen will tell you that stock management is crucial. Knowing what to use first means less is wasted. And knowing what you’ve got in stock saves you buying things you already have.

Clear your food storage spaces and make an inventory of what’s there. You could create a list on your mobile so you can update it as you go. Have it to hand in the supermarket so you don’t make repeat purchases.

For fresh produce, put a list of what’s inside the fridge on its door and a star next to what needs eating first. This process takes time and could feel tedious, but it will save you discovering a bag of liquid spinach.

"It may be better to buy little and often", says Nick. "The more there is in your fridge, the harder it is to manage the expiry dates. Having less will force you to be more resourceful and frugal with your meals."

"Keep things like salad in easy-to-reach places like the top shelves. Believe it or not, having to bend down to the salad drawer may cause you not to use it, simply because of that extra bit of effort."

Clean out the ‘junk drawer’

Unless you’ve mastered minimalism, you know the drawer we mean. The place for the miscellaneous odds and ends, like spare batteries, cables, half-used notepads and maybe some Christmas cracker treasures.

Set some time aside to empty it – and be brutal about what goes back in. It will free up some space and you might even find some useful things such as loose buttons, hair bands, coins or a USB cable. The process should also help concentrate the mind to stop accumulating that junk in the first place.

"What you own often ends up owning you", says Nick. "It can feel liberating to remove the unessential from your life."

Getting help

Spending addiction and compulsive shopping are very real issues and may require professional help. "Some people buy things they don’t need to relieve emotional pain – and they’re left with the financial consequences", says Nick.

There are many different types of help that can be available (including recovery groups) that can be effective for people with addictions.

If you're feeling the pinch, it might be time to operate your life like a start-up, as Nick suggested: "Be ruthless with your spending decisions, count the pennies and follow the start-ups’ mantra."

"Do the same not just for your wardrobe, fridge and living space, but also for monthly subscriptions, which can quietly bleed your account balance", he says. "And make sure to log in to your bank account regularly to see where your money is actually going each month."

Whatever you decide to do, look after your money. Chase's easy-access saver account lets you start saving with as little as you like.

18+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account.

Disclaimer: The Hub is intended as a knowledge portal to provide information on a range of topics, including financial products and lifestyle management. These articles are not financial advice. Articles may reference products and services that Chase UK does not currently offer.

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