We have all been there. Checking our bank accounts obsessively, fruitlessly hoping that money will just show up. Maybe you’re in the midst of a job transition, or maybe you don’t have a steady job at all. Whether you make your money through odd-jobs, a steady salary or part time work, there is a way to save money, despite the budget.
It’s scary, right? Trying to make ends meet while not turning into a recluse and always having to make up excuses while you can’t go out. You can start to feel like a bad friend and a lame person. But that’s just not the truth. We’ve all struggled with money, despite our age or profession. It takes time, effort and a whole lot of patience and self-forgiveness before you can figure out the right way to save. But there is hope!
When You Get Money in Your Account, Pay Yourself First
Even if you don’t earn much at the moment, there is no excuse of spending more than you save. Have you ever heard the expression, “Pay yourself first?” Whether you have a salary in which you automatically contribute a percentage of your paycheck to a 401k or your savings account, or even an old-school piggy bank where you store loose change, it’s so important to pay yourself (aka: put some money aside) before you spend on anything else. And if you use the solutions below, it can be easier than you think.
Saving Money Can Be Easier Than You Think If You Do These 8 Things Regularly
1. Negotiate new rates and fees
This one can be scary for people who aren’t used to asking for things, but it’s so important and it really does work. I hate owning credit cards, but with an upcoming wedding, it’s sort of a necessary evil for me. But I was really sick of the high APR on the card I used often because I had been a long time customer and always paid more than minimum. Once I had paid the card off, I called and told them they would either lower my interest, or I would take my business elsewhere. Guess which one they chose?
You can also do this with utility bills. Call the companies and ask if they can work with you on the fees. If not, threaten to go to their competition. Don’t be hateful, I’m not encouraging you to start fights, but stand your ground and let them know you’re willing to pay someone else.1
2. Unplug the unused electronics (It’s not only an environmentally-friendly practice!)
Well, unplug all the electronics in your house. Did you know that if something is plugged in, regardless of whether or not it’s being used, it’s still sucking up energy and increasing your bills? So unplug your phone charger, the blender, the coffee machine, the TV, your computer charger…. you get the point. You’ll be amazed at what you start to save.
3. Draft a list before you go shopping
Everyone knows to avoid grocery shopping when they’re hungry. It’s a sure way to buy way more than you intended, all because of your growling tummy. But the same thing happens when you don’t have a list/you don’t stick to your list. Plan ahead and stick to your shopping plan. More so, buy in bulk for cheaper prices and download some grocery store rebate apps on your phone!
4. Balance your checkbook
I know, I know, I sound like your parent. But balancing your checkbook is a great way to know how much money you actually have. Financial apps, like the one your bank no doubt offers, are great, but they aren’t always current to the minute. This can lead to hefty overdraft fees if you aren’t paying attention and spend more than you have. Seriously. Do it.2
5. Use cash before your card
The budget I created for myself involves reserving envelopes of cash for specific things. For instance, $200 specifically for groceries, $50 for restaurants/coffee shops and $25 for miscellaneous. I would only spend according to those envelopes, and if I ran out of cash, then I’ve spent all I can. Too bad. This is done in hopes of having a certain amount leftover at the end of the month to be put directly into my savings account. While it isn’t always realistic/smart/safe to carry around envelopes of cash, the idea is a good one. Really limit yourself to what you want to spend, and use cash before your card. There’s something about the feeling of handing over paper money that hurts a lot more than swiping some plastic.
6. Bank on other people’s poor spending habits
You know that one friend you have who is always spending money on the latest trend and winds up with a box of stuff he/she no longer wears? Maybe they donate it as a tax write-off, or maybe they just throw it out. Tell them you want it instead! You’ll have a constantly changing wardrobe and it won’t cost you a dime! If you don’t have a friend like this, then buy used in general. Thrifting used to be taboo, but now second-hand is all the rage. eBay, Poshmark, ThreadUp and more are all great options to get new items for less.3
7. Get a programmable thermostat
This is one of those options that requires you to spend some money in order to save it, but for around $40, you can get a basic model and cut your energy bills by 15% ($45 a month!!). Some of these apps even sync to your phone, so you can adjust the temperature from anywhere. That’s a great feature for someone like me who constantly forgets to set it to 78* before leaving in the morning!
8. Pack your lunch
It can be so tempting to go to lunch nearby every day, especially if you work in the city. But have you ever calculated what you spend in a week on lunch or coffee? It’s sickening! If you go out to lunch 5 times a week, pack your lunch three times next week and see how much you save. You’ll be shocked and your bank account will thank you!
So what do you think? Doable, right? I told you. Have other money-saving tips not mentioned here? Make sure to share!