Every day, it seems there is someone eager to take money from us. Sometimes we offer it up willingly, other times, it hurts, it pains to let our hard-earned cash go. Then throw in our dreams and aspirations, our fantasy vacations and dreams of fully paid tuitions and the cycle of money-making seems one that is never ending. Where are the loopholes? What’s the secret to hoarding our pennies when everything flashes around us?
It’s 2017 and attempts to stretch our dollar are at the forefront, now more than ever. Each of us is trying to cut costs at every turn. But consumers are as consumers do, and saving money comes with commitment and conviction. People don’t realize how much they spend until they’re in the hole and trying to get out but there are some simple ways to get the cash collecting in our accounts. Once a habit is formed, it’s hard to break and the small sacrifices of today will lead to huge payoffs in the end. Simple changes in our human nature every day will put money in our pockets, isn’t that crazy? It’s true.
If you are ready to get your head in gear and put your money where your mouth is, these suggestions are sure to get you on the right track. When you figure out what you are working towards and clearly see it in your future, you can use that as an incentive to change your exuberant impulse spending and reap the rewards you really want.
15. Pick an easy number
Pick an easy dollar number that you will commit to save each day. Yes, each day, no exceptions! Seriously, even if it is as little as a dollar a day. In a year that works out to $365. When was the last time you had a spare $365? A dollar can disappear so easily in a day that we don’t even notice it, but when we equate how a dollar a day ads up to $365 a year, even without any type of interest, it’s $3,650 (approximately) in 10 years and it will be the easiest $3,650 you ever saved. Pick a number, an easy number, and stick with it. You won’t notice it being put away and when you need it most, it will be there.
14. Make your own coffee
How many of us, out of routine, leave the house to start our day and the first thing we do is stop at the coffee shop? The presence of the change we have jingling in our pocket seems to give us permission to indulge in overpriced java when we may ‘hava’ perfectly good coffee maker at home. What is it? Is it the time it takes? Get a coffee maker with a timer. You’ll have the thing paid off within its first few weeks at home, versus giving your hard-earned cash to the corner coffee guy. Is it the sensation of affluence that we feel when we go buy something? Think of it this way, you’ll feel far more affluent going on dream vacations than you do splurging on temporary caffeinated pleasures.
13. Collect the coins around your house
This seems silly but how often do you find yourself picking up dimes or nickels and tossing them aside or down into the depths of your handbag, never to be seen again? There is always loose change kicking around all our homes. Be it in the couch, maybe in last year’s winter coat, there could be a quarter kicked to the side or a little stack of forgotten silver in your jewelry box. Listen, money is money and we disrespect it all the time by tossing it around. Chances are, if you went around your home and started picking up and putting the coins away in a jar – the Loose Coin jar – the value will start to increase. When we look at five cents, we scoff and say, “It’s only 5 cents.” But 20 of these five cents make up a dollar. It is so surprising how it all adds up. Toss it in a jar, forget about it, and when the jar is full, roll it, cash it in and treat yourself to a fancy dinner.
12. Pack a lunch
We all love a warm, delectable lunch amidst our crazy work day, but in the end our lunch can end up costing as much as what we make in an hour or more! Are you willing to knock 5 hours off your paycheck every week? That’s what you’re doing every time you go out to eat instead of using a little planning and packing your wallet at the same time as packing a lunch. Even that banana you grab that’s only 79 cents you could have brought at the grocery store for 20 cents. Use recyclable containers too, helping the environment and your grocery bill at the same time.
11. Get creative with gift-giving
Gift-giving is always supposed to be because of a sentiment. You’re happy someone was born, you’re happy they got married, you’re proud they graduated; whatever the reason, different events call for different gift-giving techniques. Now, the traditional way is to hyper-extend our budget to find something showy and we think this adds value to our gift. Not always. Time is the rarest of all gifts. Spending time on someone or thinking about them and what they like before buying something means so much more. What can you make? What can you make and give as a present to someone? Not only will it show you cared enough to spend the time but it will save you money.
10. Live within your means
This is a tough one. We are bombarded each day by media with advertising telling us all the things we “need”. But do we really need them? Do we need them right now? Taking out credit and going into debt for the life you live today doesn’t help you live the life you want to live in the future. Staying within your means may mean saying no to things you want to do instead of getting a payday loan to make it happen. Be honest with yourself. Debt causes stress and if you’re trying to save, nothing is more counterproductive than trying to live in the lap of luxury when you can’t pay your rent.
9. Write everything down
Every cent you spend, write it down. Keep track of where you spend and where you can cut back. Again, going back to the coffee example, if you calculate a Starbucks coffee a day, 5 days a week, you’ll notice the same amount you are saving with your “One Dollar a Day” plan is the same as what you’re dishing out. When we see it in front of us, written down and in numerical values, the expenses add up and can be daunting. When you see things on your list like expensive magazines, high end chocolates, you name it, it’s not that we shouldn’t treat ourselves but does it have to be so often?
8. Get a Financial Advisor
Ok, we get it, you are a fox at money management and you have it all figured out, right? Well if that was the case, you wouldn’t be reading this. In these situations, maybe it’s time to call in a professional. Financial Advisors do this for a living. They look at your whole life, expenses, goals, and make suggestions based on their wealth of knowledge, pun intended. Like a money doctor, they often know the ins and outs of making ends meet while still being able to put aside money for the future. When in doubt, get someone to help you out. Interview them to be sure everyone is on the same page. You can do a lot on our own but why struggle if you don’t have to?
7. Buy in bulk
We’ve all heard the jokes about buying in bulk or when you walk into a store like Costco, you leave with everything but the kitchen sink. There’s something to be said about buying in bulk though. The savings are sometimes incomparable to any you find in a basic grocery store, you end up limiting visits to the grocery store therefore cutting down on impulse buys. Your pantry is full from one massive haul and you’ve saved tons of money. The habit of buying in bulk is a great option for big families, gatherings or when you’re inspired to plan your lunches for a month.
6. Shop in a hurry
The worst pitfall to land in is having too much time in a store with too many options. Everywhere we look there’s something to catch our eye and suit our fancy. You could walk into a pharmacy for cold medicine and come out with a whole new line of cosmetics to try, shower gel for a year, greeting cards, Swiffer liners and a long list of other things you didn’t plan on getting. Why? Because it’s the perfect storm! When you shop with time to spare, you have a lot more time to justify your purchases as needs versus wants. If you enter with a plan of attack, you won’t be surrendering more than you bargained for.
5. Make a grocery list
This tip goes along, hand in hand, with the last one about shopping in a hurry. This is part of your new consumer plan. Your mission is to make a grocery list and only buy what is on the list. Do this every time you go to the store. When you plan out what you need, you go in looking for the products you want, not ones that are just there on the shelf, looking tempting. You then arrive at home with all the makings of a great week ahead without the headache of overspending on cupcakes and designer water. Again, it is nice to treat ourselves but it’s in balance. Sticking to a grocery list helps fatten our wallets.
4. Bottle your own water
Water. We all need it to survive. It comes in many portable variations, most of which are bad for the environment, bad for our health and expensive. That’s when bottling our own water comes in. Brita water filtration systems have been around for years and clean up our water well. It’s a healthier choice than run of the mill bottled water because the carcinogens in the bottle aren’t present. Get a reusable glass bottle and start carrying that around, filled with water you filtered yourself. This way, you know exactly what you are putting into your body, versus trusting a corporation who could be bottling lake water, you’ll be helping the environment but cutting down on plastics and you’ll be saving money!
3. Be active
You can save your money by walking or biking to work. Yes, it takes more time and planning to get things moving in the morning or the motivation to get home but long term, you save so much money in public transportation fees, Ubers, taxis, and you get in shape at the same time. This isn’t to suggest make yourself uncomfortable on a rainy day and be overly ambitious, only to find yourself in a coffee shop blowing money to warm up. This is just to suggest having an open mind to alternative transportation that even if, at the time, feels strenuous, in the end will turn you into a finely tuned, well-oiled savings machine.
2. Cancel your landline
Does anyone still have a landline? Do you? Stop that! Right now! If you have a cell phone that you use, why do you have a landline? Businesses need landlines, corporations need landlines, we as humans, unless we are very old and very opposed to technology, we do not need a landline. Communication is coming at us from every angle. Social media, cell phones, TV, everywhere, why is a landline so important that you need it? Does your cellphone ring more? Are you just trying to be ‘responsible’ and reachable always? We are a generation attached to our phones. You’ll probably be ok if you cut the cord and take the leap into the vast digital world of telecommunications.
1. Rent your textbooks online
Are you a student who drowns every September when the cost of your books is close to the cost of your tuition? The once you buy them, you realize you only have to open them 10 times for open book quizzes? It happens all the time that schools choose texts to go with programs that students hardly use, or buy and never use and end up reselling for a fraction of the cost. There are many sites online where you can ‘rent’ online versions of the texts needed for a fraction of the cost of buying the book. With the membership, or rental, the student has access to the book online for the entire year. For some classes, this works well and is worth investigating to possibly cut text book costs in half.
This list could continue on for pages with ideas how you can save money without feeling the pinch. The chance of things working out your way are greater when matched with commitment and a constant awareness of our spending habits. It’s catching where we fall short that will help us rake it in, long term. Each person is going to have their own preferred way of doing things and their own things to sacrifice but who said making money and saving money was easy? No one. So put in the work and reap the rewards.
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