We all need and want money. Some of us are even kind of addicted to making as much money as possible... and there are definitely some shopaholics among us who love spending it (probably a little too much). Having a steady flow of cash makes life a lot easier, and often it makes life a lot more fun as well. When we're making money it's easy to assume that we'll always be making money, so saving and budgeting isn't always a priority. However, life is full of surprises and you don't want to learn money lessons the hard way by hitting rock bottom when your funds unexpectedly run dry. Luckily it's pretty easy for most of us to cut back on our expenses and start saving money before it's too late.... aka before we find ourselves in absolutely massive amounts of debt. Here are 15 easy ways to start saving money today.
You probably belong to some things here and there that you don't actually need. Maybe this is magazines, some online service you don't actually use, a cheese of the month club you joined on impulse and have on a recurring payment even though you're giving away most of the cheese. If your credit cards are set to auto payments each month you might even be paying for things that you don't remember signing up for. Do some research into your accounts to see if this is true, and then get rid of the things that you really don't need. You might love your magazine subscriptions in theory but are you actually reading them, or do you generally end up browsing articles online anyway? You don't have to get rid of stuff that you really love, but start looking at what you don't so you can get organized and stay organized.
14 Create A Ten Second Rule
We can't always stick to the shopping lists that we make but sometimes we forgot about stuff that we really needed when we wrote the list to begin with. Just because you forgot to add deodorant to the list it doesn't mean that you can't buy deodorant right now. However, that lipstick you just noticed that is not on your list is another story. Create a ten second rule where you really have to think about it for ten seconds and consider if you need it or not. It will be sort of annoying but this is a good thing. Distracted shopping means coming home with extra items that you didn't need, but when you're forced to stop and think about it, you'll often that you might want it but that you don't actually need it. Put it back, at least for now. It'll always be there if later you find out that you actually do need it. And you probably won't. Just saying.
13 Only Shop When Necessary
Shopping for new clothes is the absolute best thing in the world, that's for sure, but when you shop at random you end up with a bunch of things that are almost the same item, and then not end up wearing half of them. One way to get around this spending money on clothes that you don't need is to only buy them for actual events. Don't stock up on 25 party dresses that you may or may not get the chance to wear, but if you have a formal party to go, then buy an outfit. Look at what you have in your closet and determine if you actually need a new fall wardrobe or if you could change things up simply by adding in a new coat or something. Thinking through the process also gives you the opportunity to spend more time looking for that key item, which means that you're more likely to find a good deal on it.
12 Stop Using Your Credit Cards
It's a really smart idea to have good credit, and sometimes that can be accomplished by using some credit cards which is all well and good. But of course the thing about credit cards is that you amass a balance which then has interest, and ends up costing you a lot more money in the long run. Keep in mind that you do always have the option of negotiating your interest rates or even moving your balance onto lower rate cards, but that only helps if you're actively paying them off and not reusing them to the brink every chance you get. When you're used to having credit cards around it can be natural to reach for them, but unless you're paying close attention to what you're spending and why, it's easy for them to get a little out of control pretty quickly. Just because they're offering you more cards it doesn't mean that you need them.
11 Stay Healthy
Staying healthy is a really great way to save money because it is possible that you live in a place where that is not covered or maybe you do not have great health insurance. But you can also cut back on the amount of work days that you have missed because you have got another bad cold. Do not have so much fun that it is at the expense of your health and well-being. Eating healthy, clean food, taking any necessary supplements, getting good sleep, and staying centered can all go really far towards keeping our bodies healthy. And don't forget that stress affects the body as well, so keeping your mental state happy and healthy is extremely important as well. Figure out what makes you happy and then work towards that, as it's one of the things in life that we can exert a certain amount of control over.
10 Quit Smoking
If you still smoke cigarettes, you should know that besides the fact that you're basically being super unhealthy, you're just throwing money down the drain in addition to risking your health with every puff that you take. The average smoker spends $8,500 a year on cigarettes, which should make your head spin. That's pushing ten grand, and I'm sure you could think of a lot of better things to spend your money on than that. You could perhaps pay off a credit card, or get a car, or take a really exotic vacation, or just stop struggling over making rent. Just in a single year. Imagine over ten years you could have put a down payment on a house or something. When you don't look at the actual numbers it's easy to pretend like it isn't happening, but when you do it should be alarming enough that you feel motivated to make a change.
9 Make Your Own Food
You've heard this one over and over again, but sometimes things are repeated because there's true, and cooking for yourself is really something to keep in mind. Cooking your own food can save you a lot of money, especially if you are used to dining out or ordering in takeout and paying too much for delivery fees. If you don't find this to be a natural habit need to train yourself to do this, try making meals in bulk so that you'll have them ready to go for the week or the next few days. You won't be tempted to order out if you already have something ready to be heated up. It can be tough to get motivated at the end of every day to cook for yourself, but when you cook in advance you don't have to worry about it. Just do it when you have the time and then you don't even need to think about it. There's a sense of accomplishment to cooking as well, and you always know that it's actually fresh.
8 Switch To Generic Brands
The thing about marketing and advertising is that we are taught to trust the big brand names, but in reality, the little generic store brands are usually the exact same product. The only difference is that being a generic brand they get to charge less....which means money saving for you. Often times the generic brands seem to fade into background since they don't have the flashy colors or gimmicks that the name brands do, but they're usually sitting right next to each other. There's nothing wrong with the CVS brand of ibuprofen, and it can be a fraction of the cost of the name brand Advil. As an added bonus, a lot of stores put these items on sale pretty frequently which can help you save even more money on the things you really need to buy. So definitely keep that in mind and be on the lookout for sales.
7 Drink Less
Drinking less alcohol can also cut down on your hangovers and therefore give your more time to be productive with your life, but that's another story. Alcohol can get pretty expensive, and if you're going out a lot you might be appalled at how much you're actually spending on it. Have you ever added up your bar tab for a month? If not it might be because you're afraid to see, and in that case, you absolutely should. Setting an alcohol budget for the month might be easier than setting like a limit for each time you go out, depending on how you like to drink. You might be inspired to switch over to drinking some cheap wine at home as opposed to drinking some overpriced cheap wine out some of the time. Throw your own happy hours at your place so you can still catch up with the girls without dropping $100 on empty calories at the end of the workday.
6 Buy Used Books
If you're a big reader, then the cost of books can add up quickly. But you probably already knew that, right? It's actually sort of insane how expensive books are new compared to what the generally resell for, especially once they get off the new release list. Where you might spend somewhere in the range from $12 to $30 on a new book, maybe almost new books can be purchased online for literally a dollar. There are websites like Half.com (which is a part of eBay), that focus just on buying and selling books and other media items like the now outdated CDs and DVDs. But they have pretty much everything on their, and you can save on shipping if you buy multiple items from the same person. So essentially you can end up getting like five used books for the price of one new book...and it might not even be used at all. Generally, they seem brand new with maybe just a marking on the spine or something.
5 Filter Your Water
Still buying bottled water all the time? It's really not necessary to do that at all and it can be a huge expense over the course of a few years if you really think about it. It's so easy to get a water purifier for your refrigerator and create the clean drinking water of your dreams with little to no effort. Just make sure you have a few water bottles that you actually like so that you'll have quick access to them at all times. The best thing to do is fill up a few and keep them in your refrigerator so that you can always grab one when you're headed out the door. It makes so much more sense to bring your own water bottles to the gym, in the car, everywhere. You can even get your own fizzy water maker if you're addicted to the bubble stuff, which again over the longterm is going to save you a bunch of cash.
4 Get Rid Of Your Cable
You can significantly cut down on your expenses by getting rid of the cable bill and just using streaming services like Netflix and Hulu instead. Of course, that's never going to be the same experience as watching it live, but the few times that you actually need to watch something live you can always go to a friend's house or catch a game at a bar or something. A lot of live TV watching is a social thing anyway. You'll get to cut down on commercials, have access to a ton of movies and old shows that you wouldn't see otherwise, and having to choose what you're watching can actually make your TV time more purposeful as opposed to mindlessly channel surfing for no reason. You might even find that you spend less time watching TV... unless you get sucked into some marathons, of course. So that's probably not true. But either way, you're going to save some cash.
3 Write Down Shopping Lists
Impulse buys can end up being the bulk of our purchases, and they are usually not necessary. Actually, they are pretty much never, ever necessary, and those costs can add up. Stores intentionally organize themselves to increase the amount of impulse buying that goes on, but you do not need to play into their game. Be strong, woman. The best way to avoid making impulse buys is to create a grocery list and then actually stick to it...no if ands or butts. From the safety of your own home you can determine what you really need versus what you want, and even do some budgeting if necessary. Then when you get to the store you will already have a plan and will not have to wander around browsing and letting your eyes fall on all the appealing things that you do not actually need to be buying.
2 Take Care Of Your Car
If you own a car, keeping up with the maintenance is the best way to prevent any surprise breakdowns from occurring. Yes maintenance costs money in the short term, but it's going to be cheaper than running your car into the ground and then having to refill and replace a bunch of stuff at once. Keep oil in it, keep the air filters clean, and try to dry within the speed limit since most cars operate most efficiently when they're driven between 40 and 60 MPH. Don't lug around a ton of extra stuff in your car either, which will only make the engine work overtime. You can even do some shopping around for the best gas prices if you can plan a bit and avoiding waiting until your gas is on empty to fill up. There are actually apps out there that can compare gas prices within the area, which can sometimes vary up to 10 to 20 cents a gallon. That sort of thing adds up over time, especially if you're commuting for work regularly.
1 Avoid Instant Gratification
The desire for instant gratification is one of the biggest issues we face when it comes to spending money. We see something that we want, and we want it now because it's exciting and it's going to make us happy. But is it? How often do we buy something that we just love but then never wear or use it? Then it's just sitting around as a reminder that once again we wasted our money on something that we didn't need. It can be hard to retrain our spending habits, but it's possible. Instead of buying something as soon as you see it, try waiting at least a week and see if you still want it. Even better if you can wait a month to see if the urge passes, but that isn't always a reasonable option. Often you will find that you forget about something you thought you couldn't live without. And when you don't forget, you know that it means something.