15 Money-Saving Tips For The Independent Woman

According to a Prudential Research Study, only two out of 10 women are confident that they can make wise financial decisions. Worse, only one-third has a detailed financial plan in place. The numbers are even lower among women aged 25 to 34, where only one in 10 has an actual financial plan.

That being said, financial planning should be of utmost importance to women. If you want to achieve financial independence, you have to learn how to manage your money accordingly. There's really nothing wrong if you want to buy those pair of flats or that dainty summer dress on your next paycheck, but never neglect saving up for a rainy day. Financial independence is one of the best things that you can give to yourself in the long run.

If you're ready to take money matters into your own hands, here are 15 tips to help you save money.

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15 Write Down Your Financial Goals

As you grow older, you start to think about the things that you want in life. Do you see yourself managing your own business in the next decade or so? Are you planning to get married and have a family? Would you like to have your own house? Do you want to travel the world?

If you answered yes to all questions, then you need to start saving up ASAP because all these things involve spending a huge deal of money. And the first step to doing that is to write down all your goals in a concrete, actionable way. For instance, instead of writing, "I'm going to buy my dream car," write down, "I'm going to buy a Chevy Suburban worth $50,000 by June 2016." That way, you know exactly what you want and when you want it.

14 Make A Budget Plan

I know, budgeting is boring and even painful at times, but it needs to be done. Budget plans allow you to see where your money goes, whether they're important or not, and which items are actually draining your finances dry. If you take the time to sit down with your money, I bet you'll find something that's worth cutting down, whether it be your obsession with lipsticks or your monthly subscription to a magazine that you barely read.

Most people make budget plans every time they receive their salary for the month. If you want a more comprehensive look at your finances, re-evaluate your plans at the start of every week.

13 Save Now, Spend Later

Before you buy that adorable pair of heels you've been eyeing for weeks, there's one thing that you need to do first: take a bit of money from your paycheck and send it to your savings account. In fact, the moment you receive your paycheck, make sure that you prioritize your savings even if you're cash-strapped. Get into the mindset of saving before spending rather than the other way around. You'll thank yourself for this habit in the future.

Financial analysts recommend saving at least 20 percent of your monthly salary, but you can start lower and increase your savings as time goes by. Automate your savings so that you never forget to do this.

12 Cut Down On Unnecessary Expenses

Do you have a gym membership even if you barely go to the gym? Do you pay for cable TV even if you spend most of your time on YouTube? Is your cell phone plan worth it?

These are just some of the bills that people pay on a monthly basis even if they don't get enough value from it. Instead of going to the gym twice a week and paying for a monthly gym membership, replace it with DVD workouts that you can do at home. There are many better—and cheaper—services that you can replace cable TV with, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, which allow you to watch your favorite shows and movies for a fraction of the cost. Your mobile plan might be too expensive for your needs, so find a low-cost alternative.

Just imagine the extra money that you'd get just by getting rid of these monthly money drainers.

11 Limit Your Happy Hours

Time spent with your friends is certainly invaluable, but let's face it: you're not getting any younger. As you grow older and more responsible, you might want to cut out the time you spend on expensive happy hour drinks. Slowly start replacing your cocktails with cheaper and healthier options like lime or soda water.

This practice hits two birds with one stone: it makes you feel a lot healthier and way better in the mornings, and it also makes you save more in the long run. Who knows, you might even influence your friends in this crusade for a healthier lifestyle.

10 Buy Things In Bulk

It's not always a good idea to stock up on a lot of things, especially perishable ones, but if you have friends who can share the expenses with you, then it's a great money-saving idea. Buying in bulk is cheaper than buying in retail because it reduces the cost per unit, and since you're sharing your stuff with your friends, you'll have no problem with storage.

Team up with your girlfriends and shop at warehouse stores like Sam's Club or Costco. Or if you have no one to share those things with, you can consider reselling the items at a lower price.

9 Invest In Something That You Can Use Long-Term

Whatever you invest in should depend on your interests. For instance, if you're a coffee addict, spending $5 of coffee a day can certainly add up in the long run, so why not just buy a $35 coffeemaker and make your own coffee at home? The coffee maker might be expensive at first, but it's an investment that will make your succeeding days a lot cheaper.

If you're a diving enthusiast, it'll save you a ton of money to have your own diving gear rather than rent it every time you go diving. Think of things that you frequently do and find a cost-effective way to cut down the costs.

8 Borrow, Don't Buy

Instead of buying something that you're just going to use once, like a gown for a company event or a video camera for one of your assignments, opt to borrow from your friends. There's bound to be someone who has what you need and won't even ask a single buck from you as compensation.

There are also several borrowing sites that you can use, such as Snap Goods, Neighbor Goods, and Share Some Sugar. If you really can't find someone to borrow from, you may rent it for a fraction of the product's total cost. Buying that item should be your last resort.

7 Delay Gratification

We live in a world where you can have any material thing that you want with just the click of a button. This mindset of immediate gratification actually contributes to the way we spend and splurge on stuff that we don't need.

So the next time that you see an expensive dress that makes your heart skip a beat even if you don't need it, wait at least 48 hours before you click "Buy." This gives you enough time to be more mindful with your purchase. More often than not, this simple trick will get you back to your senses and make you realize that there are better ways to spend your money.

6 Use Cash Instead Of Credit Cards

Credit cards are definitely helpful when you're cash-strapped, but it also makes you more vulnerable to splurging. It's so easy to pay for something just by swiping that card, but you cannot say the same when it's cash you're holding.

Psychologically speaking, using cash instead of cards makes you realize how quickly you're spending money, thus making your purchases screech to a halt. So the next time you go shopping, bring only cash with you. Online shopaholics would also benefit from a credit card ban since they won't be able to use cash to pay for items online. This will give them a much-needed shopping-free diet.

5 Study Personal Finance

Knowledge is power, and it's not just a cliché. The more you know about personal finance, the more you can maximize the use of your money in terms of expenses, savings, and investments. It's easier for you to achieve your goals for financial independence when they're backed by theoretical knowledge.

Thanks to the Internet, you can get free personal finance advice from many different legitimate sources. Sites like Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar offer blog posts that give valuable tips on how you can achieve financial independence. If you're looking for higher level money tips, you can visit Wallstreet Survivor and Investopedia for articles about investment and trading.

4 Pay Off Your Debts

After years of being considered "good debt," student loan debt is now a problem that millions are struggling with. This puts you in debt even before you start working. Add your bills to that and you might see yourself sinking lower and lower into bankruptcy. Hence, the sooner you get out of debt, the better and faster it will get you toward financial independence.

In general, you should get out of debt first before you enter any investment ventures. Consider reviewing options like loan deferment, loan forbearance, and income-based repayment plans to pay off your debts—whatever works for your current financial situation.

3 Think Of Investments

A vast majority of people let their money sit inside their savings accounts or worse, their piggy banks. While it's good that they have savings, storing money this way ignores one very important finance principle: inflation. Inflation is defined as a general increase in the prices of goods, hence also decreasing the purchasing value of your money. If your bank's interest rate is lower than the inflation rate, then your money will be worth far less than it is now in the future.

That is why you need to invest your money. Consider buying life insurances and investing in mutual funds and even the stock market. These are places where your money works for you even while you sleep.

2 Charge More

Gender discrimination is a huge issue in the workplace, and as a result, women tend to undervalue their expertise and underprice themselves compared to their male colleagues. But that shouldn't be the case since women nowadays also work in traditionally male-dominated fields such as medicine and engineering. Women should learn to charge more for their services in whichever field because they're doing the same jobs as their male peers. That also goes the same for women in traditional jobs who need to negotiate higher salaries.

The higher your income, the more money you have to pay off your debts and start your investments.

1 Think Of Side Jobs

If you love baking, you may want to sell some cupcakes on your free time. Have too many books crowding your bedroom? Set up an online shop and sell them online.

Use the talent and resources that you have to do some income-generating activities during your spare time. People who love creating craft items are selling their stuff on Etsy while those who have secondhand items that they no longer need are setting up shop at OLX and eBay.

If you're not into selling, you might want to do some freelance writing, graphic design, voice acting, or consulting on the side. For all you know, this might be your stepping stone towards becoming the CEO of your own multimillion dollar company.

sources: cosmopolitan.com, financiallywisewomen.com, money.usnews.com, womenmoneyandsuccessmag.com

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