Last week on the blog I talked about preventing debt, and the best 4 ways to make sure you can avoid it at all costs. I think it's important that we talk about money, because we all have it and all find different ways to spend it.
Some of us are good at saving it, while others get easily tempted into buying the latest fashions or gadgets. But no matter who you are, there are still things we can all do to be better at saving our money — because who doesn’t want extra money for jewelry and clothes, anyways!?
Here are my 8 everyday tips for saving your money:
1. Meal Prep
Eating out for every meal gets expensive, and restaurant and takeout bills can add up. Even grocery shopping for one meal at a time can be costly, which is why you should consider meal prepping if you don’t already. By buying your foods in bulk 1-2 times per week, you can manage what food is going to be eaten and when in order to avoid last-minute grocery trips and eating at a drive-thru. Furthermore, when you meal prep you can reserve food for your work lunches the next day to make packing your lunch thoughtless! Also, when you plan out your meals in advance, you can shop for groceries and only get what’s on your list, to avoid buying too much food that ends up going bad in the back of your fridge.
2. Use Cash, Not Credit
This is a tough one, and last week, I talked about the trouble with using credit alone. The problem with credit cards is that they make it too easy to overspend by allowing us to just tap and not think through our purchases. So while using cash may feel impossible in today’s day and age, use cash as much as possible. The act of physically handing cash over will make you think twice about if what you’re spending is really worth it.
3. Download an App
We are on our phones pretty much 24/7 anyways, so why not get something useful out of it? Apps like Mint and BillTracker can help you do things like keep track of all of your financial activities and stay on top of important bill due dates and amounts. There are also lots of apps that help you save on your spending, by finding coupons in your area and applying discount codes when you shop online. For example, if you haven’t already, download the “Honey” extension on your web browser — when online shopping, it automatically applies all known discount codes to your order to get you the best deal. By using these apps regularly, you can chip away at your expenses and avoid overspending and late fees in order to stay on top of your finances.
4. Think Twice About Utilities
For most of your utility bills, there are peak and off-peak times that it’s important to be aware of in order to be more mindful of your money. Now I’m not suggesting that you should only use electricity in off-peak times (because frankly, that’s impossible) but try completing your energy-sucking activities in off-peak hours. Run the dishwasher and do your laundry at the times where it costs the least. Also, unplug appliances and keep the lights turned off when you’re not using them. These may seem like small things, but when you add them up, you could be saving up to hundreds of dollars on your utility bills.
5. WAIT to Spend
In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to walk away from something you really want. But one way you can prevent a lot of frivolous spending is by walking away and waiting 48 hours to decide if you really want something. Make a list of the things you really want/need and avoid purchasing things that are not on your list. It’s easier to say no to an item when you remember the list of things that you are saving up for.
Another way to limit spending is to wait until items go on sale or clearance. Paying full price is a sure-fire way to overspend, and nowadays, most things eventually go on sale anyways. We’ve all been there — bought something only to see it get discounted 50% 2 weeks later. You can still buy the item, but save yourself the extra dollars by waiting until the price drops.
6. Look for Better Deals
Just because you’ve had x insurance or phone plan forever doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still look for better deals. This is a simple process that can feel like it’s a lot of work, but it’s really not. Talk to your friends to see what their plans are to compare. Cellphone companies especially are always offering cheaper and better deals, so just call and see. You could be paying lots more money when there is a better deal out there, so don’t be afraid to find the plan that’s best for you and most cost effective.
7. Consider Your Everyday Spending Habits
Your little purchases add up, so consider how much money you are spending on daily things like your coffee, lottery tickets, or gym membership. When creating a budget, it’s important to include these items, because even though a $4 daily coffee doesn’t feel like a lot at the time, if you add it up on a yearly basis, you could potentially be spending over $1,000 a year on coffee alone. Add in all of your other miscellaneous purchases, and you could afford to go on a nice trip! If your everyday spending habits are worth it to you and you can justify their value in your life, then you’re golden — but it’s still worth it to go through and total your small purchases, because chances are, there are a few areas where you could cut back.
8. DIY It
Pinterest can be your best friend, because you can find so many tips/tricks/hacks for doing it yourself. Spa pedis and facials are amazing, but they cost a lot of money, so even if you occasionally learn to paint your toes at home or refurbish an old cabinet instead of buying it new, every little bit counts. As I’ve found to be the case with Pinterest, you can find a DIY solution to pretty much anything.