Easy Money Saving Tips That Really Work : Unless you’ve won the lottery in the past year, the current American economy is forcing just about everyone to be more frugal in every aspect of life. For a lot of people, “frugal” may not even be a word they’ve heard or used a lot lately. Frugality isn’t taught in schools (what a great idea that would be, right?), but it’s a lesson most everyone is learning through the ‘school of hard knocks’ and in real life these days. As the need for living a frugal lifestyle becomes more apparent, we’re still getting a lot of advertising messages that being in debt is OK, that spending more than we make is part of “modern life.” I’m here to tell a different story…
Debt is not fine, especially consumer debt. Debt is an addiction, and an expensive one. If you’re learning this the hard way, it’s time to look at trimming expenses. It’s even better to learn these lessons early, but better late than never.
The ultimate aim is to live on 80-90% of what you earn. Starting out, you can bank the rest in an interest bearing account. You don’t need to get into complex investment vehicles; a good bank account that pays interest in both checking and savings and has no fees is a good place to start, and one that most people simply aren’t doing.
First things first, tabulate your current expenses. Don’t guess! Look at the past three months of expenses… Find out the “real numbers” on what you’re spending on restaurants, coffee, eating at home, going to movies, and everything else. If you want to be really detail-oriented about this, carry a small notepad – or use the note-taking function on your smartphone – and write down everything you spend for at least a month. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at what you see in 30 days!
What you find may be painful, but it’s worth the effort writing out your expenses. You’ll quickly notice that there are fixed expenses (like your mortgage and utility bills) and variable expenses (like food and entertainment). You’ll discover lots of ways for money to vanish down rabbit holes by examining your variable expenses! Now comes the job of finding ways to trim those expenses:
Money Saving Tips
- Do you regularly buy a latte (or other expensive coffee) on the way to work? That’s costing you $20 a week or a bit over a thousand dollars a year. Make a latte at home and drink it on the way to work and save the rest.
- Do you smoke? Kick the habit. It’s not just killing your lungs; it’s costing you anywhere from $100 to $200 a month or more. That adds up to almost 2 grand per year.
- Do you eat out at lunch? Even a fast food meal is around six bucks. If you figure you spend 240 days a year at work, and eat out for a hundred of them. Is that $600 you’d rather have back?
- Here’s an idea: Get in the habit of spending Sunday afternoons packing a week’s worth of lunches. You can make your favorite foods and freeze them or cook a little extra for dinner each night.
- Unnecessary ‘convenience food’ costs you. While you’re in the kitchen, look at how many pre-packaged meals you eat. Every single one of them represents two to three dollars you’re paying someone to cook something for you.
- It’s amazing how much money you can save by learning how to cook your own food! The general rule is that for the same quantity of food, a pre-packaged meal costs twice to three times as much.
- Make your own fast food. Once you start cooking, you can look at other ways to be frugal, like cooking large batches and freezing the leftovers. When you need food fast, grab something out of the freezer and just heat it up.
- Drink water. You pay a lot less for water from the tap than you do for soda or bottled water. Buy a water filtration pitcher, and keep it filled. Any time you feel the urge to grab a soda, drink an 8-ounce glass of water first. Then see if you’re still thirsty. This will cut down your soda habit tremendously.
- Use coupons. Save even more money by using coupons when items are on sale. You might end up paying only a few cents for an item you use all the time.
- Follow the ‘wait 30 days’ rule before buying anything that costs more than $50 or so.
Being frugal and learning how to save money takes patience and practice, but the rewards are worth it when you find you’ve saved enough money to get out of debt, go on vacation, or buy a new car.
Make small changes every week to form new habits, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole new way of living and extra money in the bank.