You have a high paying job and you have a medium to high salary, but somehow, you're still living paycheck to paycheck. Or maybe, you make a decent amount of money annually, but, still, you end every year with more credit card debt than the year before. You think you're living within your means, but for some reason, your bank account disagrees. "What's going on?" you ask yourself. Well, we'll tell you. You're not making the best decisions when it comes to spending and saving. And, that's perfectly all right- as long as you interfere with yourself before it's too late. It's hard to be smart with money and it takes a lot of practice to get in the habit of spending and saving money wisely. Don't worry, though, because we're here to help. Read below to find out sixteen ways you can save yourself money.
16 Keep Track Of Your Purchases
You might think you know exactly what you're spending money on, but at the end of the day, it's important that you're a stickler when it comes to staying organized. View your bank statement and receipts for the month and look for patterns. Then on a separate sheet of paper, make a list of different categories. Some examples of categories would include food, car payments, home payments, shopping, etc. Once you've done that, divide the list into even smaller categories such as eating out, clothes, gas, etc. This way, you can see exactly what you're spending and where you're spending it.
Now that you've kept track of your purchases, it's time to budget yourself. There are certain expenses we can't avoid such as insurance payments, mortgages, and money spent on food. However, there are many expenses we can avoid. First, write down all of your unavoidable expenses to find the sum. Then, subtract the sum of all of your unavoidable expenses from your monthly income to find how much extra cash you have left over. From the cash you have left over, subtract 25% for a savings account. The number you're left with is the amount of money you have for avoidable expenses such as clothing, coffee, eating out, etc.
Seriously. Do you know how much money you spend on gas? (You should if you've done the previous steps). Gas is expensive and most of us have to drive every single day. Therefore, much of our income goes to the gas station. What can you do to help cut down costs? Carpool. Talk to the people you work with and see if anyone lives close to you. If they do, carpooling just two days a week can help save you money. If you have kids that play sports, see if there are any kids on the team who live close to you so you can share the responsibility with their parents. Added Bonus: You'll help save the environment!
13 Set Goals
If you don't plan to save money, chances are, you're not ever actually going to. A goal might be as simple as, "this week, I'm going to save ten dollars." Include in your goals exactly how you're going to save the money. For example, you might save it by not buying a coffee on your way to work or by bringing your own lunch. If it helps you, give yourself a reason to save money such as vacationing or financial security. Make your goals realistic and within your financial means to keep yourself on track and motivated.
12 Buy In Bulk
It's true: The more you buy the more you save. Well, in most cases. In our case, it certainly is. When you go to the grocery store, buy in bulk to save yourself money. If you have the means, invest in a costco card for more discounts or sign up for rewards cards at your local grocery store. Keep your eyes open for deals and when they come along, snag them. It might seem like a lot of money upfront for the extra large coffee tin, but you'll be happy in the long run when you've saved money. Added Bonus: You'll also save yourself time because buying in bulk means less trips to the grocery store.
Okay, so you've bought plenty of food and supplies in bulk. Now what do you do? You actually use it. It's automatically more expensive to eat out at restaurants because you have to pay more tax and on top of that, tip your waiter. Eating at home is a great way to save money, especially if you have a family to feed. Another thing you can make yourself? Coffee. Chances are, you've spent more money than you thought you did at your local coffee shop this month. Making coffee at home is half as expensive, if not more, than buying it from a cafe.
10 Cut Down Monthly Bills
They add up, it's true. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it. Turn off your TV when you're not watching. Unplug your accessories. Instead of constantly using your AC, invest in a fan for cooler days. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, don't over water your yard, and take shorter showers. These things might seem small, but in time, they add up. If you want to go further, invest in "energy saving" appliances that use less electricity to function which, in turn, save you money. Added Bonus: Like carpooling, you'll be saving money.
9 Make A List
We all do it. We go to a store to get one thing and come home with bags and bags filled with the things we didn't plan on getting. What does that mean? It means we spent more money than we planned on. To avoid this, make a list before you go shopping the next time and actually stick to it. Avoid the impulse to pick up more items just because they're on sale or because they look good in the moment. If they're not on your list, you don't need them. It may seem hard at first, but you'll be happy at the end of the day when you look at your bank statement.
8 Bank Wisely
We think that every bank is basically the same at the end of the day, but it's not true. Do your research. Make sure the bank you're banking with is right for you. If you're a student, open a bank account specially geared for students as they'll probably offer higher interest rates for savings accounts to encourage saving. If you own your own business, find a bank that will offer you an expense free business account. Avoid banks that have high maintenance fees and overdrafts fees. If you can, sign up for overdraft protection. It might seem like a lot of work to close one account and open another, but in the long run, it'll be worth it.
7 Stop Smoking
Cigarettes are not as cheap as they used to be. If you smoke, it's time to stop. If not for your own health, but for your own personal wealth. Think about it: If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you're spending close to $170.00 on cigarettes every month. That means, you're spending over $2,000 dollars on cigarettes every year. To help you quit, keep track of how much money you're saving. Reward yourself with something special and don't ever let yourself go back to your old ways. You'll think yourself when you're alive and well and feeling better and richer than ever.
6 Get Rid Of Things You Don't Need
Do you pay an extra fifteen dollars a month for an HBO subscription you rarely use? Call your TV provider and cancel it. Or maybe you have a monthly subscription to a magazine you don't read anymore? Cancel it. When you signed up for it, it might've seemed like a good deal, but now, it's just costing you extra money. If you're someone who pays for a cleaning company to clean your home every week- that's great. But if you can't afford the extra expense, do it yourself or cut back on the amount of times the company comes. The same goes for washing your car. Although it's more work for you, it's less money you have to spend.
5 Avoid Impulse Shopping
Why is it so rewarding to spend the day going store to store purchasing new clothing or items that you don't need? It's a bad habit that we all suffer from. And while it's fun at first, it's only doing more damage than good. Try your best to avoid impulse shopping at all costs. Pun intended. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Is it worth it? Will it last a long time? How much use will it get? If you're unsure about buying something, don't. There's no harm in waiting.
4 Travel At The Right Times
I know- we all want to go home for the Holiday's or for Spring or Summer break. Or maybe you want to spend Christmas at a mountain resort or travel to Europe in the fall when it's most beautiful. Well, guess what? Everyone does. This is why it's so much more expensive to travel during certain times of the year. And we're not only talking plane tickets, we're also talking room and board. If you're dying to go to a certain place or even if you just want to take a trip back home, go at a time that most people are working. It might be hard to plan, but you'll save thousands of dollars for going at a less desirable time.
3 Stop Swiping
Seriously. We all do it. We swipe our credit cards all day long then we act surprised when we see our monthly balance. Why does this happen? It's because we're not keeping track of our spending they way we would if we relied solely on cash. You'd know if you had one hundred dollars cash and spent it all in one day because you wouldn't have any cash left. Instead of always using your credit card, use a debit card or even cash. This way, you'll bring awareness to what you're spending instead of just carelessly making purchases.
2 Be Creative
It's wedding season and all of a sudden, you're invited to ten different weddings. On top of being super stressful, it's also super expensive. What does that mean? It's time to get creative. You're going to have to recycle dresses so go through your closet and see if you can alter old dresses or mix and match skirts and shirts for new outfits. Instead of buying cards for every wedding, make your own to avoid paying eight dollars at your local convenience store. As far as gifts go, think outside the box. For example, offer to watch the bride and groom's dog while they're on their honeymoon as a gift instead of spending $100 dollars on a fancy dish they'll rarely use.
1 Get A Water Bottle
How many times have you been running errands and found yourself dying of thirst? A lot. What did you do? You bought a water bottle for a dollar. Well, this adds up fast. Instead, buy a reusable water bottle to save you money when you're on the go. If you're someone who buys 24 packs of plastic water bottles, it's time to stop. While it may seem convenient at first, that too, adds up. Spending ten dollars on a reusable water bottle or even thirty dollars on a Brita one time can save you up to ten dollars every week that you would spend on plastic water bottles.