While all of us want an easy tell-me-how-I-can-make-my-first-million tip, the reality is, for 99% of the population, saving money takes time. In order to help you reach your personal financial goals, I am going to lay out 13 money-saving tips. Though they be small, applying them today will add up big-time throughout the year.
LOOK AROUND YOU
Let’s start with something that really resonates, now that it’s January. Make money on your junk. Sell unwanted furniture on Craigslist, sell your gold, have a yard sale, send your clothes to ThredUp, sell your stuff on eBay.
Just yesterday, I was talking with my friend who sold a bunch of expired supplements on eBay, and made $150+. They had been sitting in her pantry for almost a decade.
MAKE A GROCERY LIST
I guarantee if you are not making a list before you go to the grocery store, you are buying all sorts of stuff, you don’t need. Plan your meals, create a list of groceries, and stick to your list when you’re at the store.
BROWN BAG IT
One way to cut expenses, is to identify an unnecessary expense that regularly repeats. Eating lunch and/or dinner out, falls into this category.
Let’s say you spend $12 to eat lunch out every weekday. If you were to completely eliminate that expense, you would save $3,120 in a year. Exactly. Imagine what you could do with over three grand.
GET A LIBRARY CARD
I love bookstores. There’s an energy in a bookstore, that is unlike any other I have experienced. But the catch is, you’re spending $26+/book for that experience.
A library is a great way to stick to good reading habits, without breaking the bank. Imagine how much money you will save by even just replacing one trip to Barnes and Noble, with a trip to the library.
WRITE DOWN YOUR BUDGET
First, sit down and evaluate the previous month’s expenses. This alone will be an eye-opening experience.
Second, decide what you want to do differently in the future. What expenses do you want to cut, in order to see that money accumulate elsewhere? Where do you want to sacrifice? What do you love and want to splurge on? Make space for the expenses that matter most and will set you up for success down the road.
Having a budget and keeping track of what you spend, will cut your expenses right out the gate. It will be the first step, to making your financial goals, a reality.
PAY BILLS ON TIME
One of the worst feelings in the world, is to be hit by a late fee. To have to pay money, for nothing in return.
Save yourself the headache by having your bills automatically withdrawn from your checking account or write down their due date in your calendar (one that you view daily).
CUT THE CABLE
Unless you were born yesterday, you’re probably aware of the ever-increasing streaming programs available. For less than $10/month, you could have Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. And even if you were to go crazy, and get all three, you would still save bucket-fulls.
Dish is no longer our only option. We’re no longer helpless, in the hands of the almighty Comcast.
GET CREATIVE WHEN IT COMES TO THE KIDS
I love my kids. Seeing them happy, makes everything in my world right (well, not exactly, but you get the jist). It just takes a little looking around, to find free or inexpensive family-fun opportunities, in your town.
We moved to a new town just over a year ago, and have already explored state parks, gone to the beach, taken part in pumpkin festivals, and watched parades. It doesn’t have to be Disney, to say “I love you.”
USE YOUR COFFEE POT
Similar to skipping eating out, cutting your daily cup ‘o Starbucks will add up quickly. Save the coffee shop for splurges.
Pop, juice, and alcohol are pretty much empty calories. While I’m all for enjoying these pleasures from time to time, removing them from your daily intake, will not only save you money, but you’ll feel a heck of a lot better, too.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
I’ll be honest, I have memories of my dad marching down the hall to my room asking, “Were you the one who left the lights in the basement on?” I’m not advocating for extremism, by any means.
But if you take time to step back and evaluate your utility usage, I think you’ll have some ideas for how to save in the areas of water, electric, and gas.
Turn down the heat when you go away. Turn out the lights when you go to work.
The value of an item goes way down, once it is no longer new. I saved hundreds this summer, by purchasing a pre-owned microwave at Goodwill, once ours hit the dust.
The same goes for furniture. Keep your eye on Craigslist for big pieces. Yard saling is a great option for buying used, as well. And dare I even suggest you buy items at yard sales and turning them around for profit on eBay? Do your homework.
While you will never ever convince me to try off-brand nutella, I couldn’t care less what brand my ziploc bags are. Assess your grocery list, and figure out what stuff you can stand to go generic on.
RENT OUT YOUR CRIB
Consider renting out your home. Are you in an area where lots of sports fans travel to? A tourist destination? Do you head south for a month in the winter? Do you take a family vacation? Airbnb is a great option, that allows both the guests and the hosts to rate one another.
SWAP BABYSITTING WITH FRIENDS
If you have ever paid a babysitter to watch your kids while you and your spouse go to dinner and a movie, you will see this tip as a an extremely viable option. And chances are, you’re kids will love having their friends over from time to time.
EAT LESS MEAT
The cost of meat adds up quickly. Cutting back on meals that include meat, will really take some pressure off your grocery bill. With a little creativity, and skimming of pinterest, you will have some flavorful, filling vegetarian options for meals.
I’m all about enjoying life to its fullest. I’m not here to tell you to cut out all the things you love, and suck the pleasure out of your life. But I believe if you evaluate these 13 areas, you will find easy ways you can cut expenses today and save all throughout the year.