Written by: Breanne Eckleberry
Saving money is one of the hardest things to do, especially when your monthly expenses are not far off from how much money you actually bring in. I mean, who ever has that extra cash to throw into their savings account every week or every month without dipping back into it? After recently moving I decided it was time to start cutting back and saving money any chance I had. I put together a list of very simple, everyday ways to start saving that cash.
1) Know your budget – growing up my father had this “black box” and when it would come out, us kids (and my mom) would scatter. This was when went through all the mail and paid all the bills. And no one wants to be around someone when they’re shoveling out hundreds of dollars. This box housed all the bills, statements, store fliers, coupons and so much more. While it scared me growing up, it’s a great thing to have as an adult. Get yourself a little box, grab a calendar and keep all your bills in one place. You know what needs to be paid every month, figure out which paycheck will pay each bill and the money you’re left with should be planned for. Go over you bank statements for the past few months, find out where you can cut back (Like maybe spending a little less at Starbucks or Marshall’s). This will help with spending less and save more. Budget your weekly spending money and where it’s being spent then.
2) Use cash as often as possible – if you budget your money and know how much your monthly bills are, then you know how much “spending” money you have each week. Paying cash is the best way to keep track of that without going over your limit. Every pay day, go to your bank (if you use any other ATM they will charge you. Why pay them to give you your money?) and withdraw your weekly spending money. You can use this for gas, food shopping, household items that need to be purchased or that emergency coffee you need because you left yours on the counter. When you’re running to target, leave your debit card at home and bring enough cash with you for what’s on your shopping list and you won’t have that extra to splurge on bringing the store home with you. Also, if you pay cash for everything it’s easier to …
3) Save all your change – you’d be surprised how quickly your change piles up when you’re not swiping your card for everything. Just the other day I cashed in change my boyfriend and I had saved for only a couple weeks and had enough to fill my gas tank AND do all our laundry at the laundromat. While that may not seem like a whole lot, think about it this way… If you’re planning and budgeting your weeks, that means you have that extra money that would have gone for gas and clean clothes to put somewhere else… Like your savings or that “oops I forgot your child’s birthday” present.
4) Clip coupons – this is probably one of the easiest ways to save money and the one that most people don’t take advantage of. I remember growing up laughing at those little, plastic coupon organizers and now guess what? That embarrassing little lot of coupons is slowly becoming my best friend. How do you find coupons? Believe it or not, they’re everywhere. One of the easiest ways would be buying the newspaper. I recently just subscribed to the Asbury Park Press to receive the paper delivered right to my home and saved some money on each paper which is another bonus! Another easy way is printable coupons online. You can choose exactly which to clip and print them right at home. Once your coupons are printed, this brings me right to my next tip…
Links: Asbury Park Press – http://content-static.app.com/customerservice/index.html iOnline coupons – https://www.coupons.com/
5) Always have a shopping list – each food store gives you a weekly flier of sales so the easiest way is to just go through, see what’s on sale, see what you have coupons for and plan your weekly meals. Buying your nonperishables in bulk will also help save you some money in the long run. Wait until they go on sale and use that coupon you clipped last week for them, wait and see how much money you’ll save. This doesn’t only work for the food store, use this everywhere. Like Target. We all know how easy it is to run in for a new set of bed sheets and come out with half of aisle 4. Before you step foot in the store make sure you have your list and only bring in enough cash for what you’re buying. Leave your debit card at home.
6) Free rewards programs – you’d be surprised at how many free or discounted items they give away. Most places now have this available for you, take advantage. (If you don’t want all that email clutter create a new email address just for that.) As most of you know, the food stores will give out their holiday hams/turkeys but did you know your local car wash will give you every tenth wash free with their free loyalty card? Also, a laundromat just opened in my town and every time you “check-in” they stamp your card; the more you’re there the bigger machine you get a free wash on. All of these little things help, it’s amazing how they’ll add up.
7) Pack your lunch – it’s so easy to go into the store every morning for coffee and breakfast and/or lunch and walk out spending up to $15 or $20. Or how about when everyone orders delivery for lunch and you end up paying $15 after tax and tip for a wrap you could have made at home? If you’re doing your weekly food shopping there’s no reason you can’t pack your breakfast, lunch, coffee and water. The easiest time to do it is when you’re cleaning up from dinner. You can pack yourself some leftovers for lunch, maybe scramble some eggs for breakfast and leave it all together in the fridge. I used to spend about $6 on water and coffee alone PER DAY, not including the food I was buying. Now I started making a pot of coffee every morning and packing a to-go cup along with buying cases of water to take a few bottles every day. You’ll be shocked how much money you save packing your own food and beverages to bring.
8) Clean out your closet – we all know you have some clothes you can get rid of! While it’s so depressing saying goodbye to that dress you wore to ONE wedding or the shoes that you bought for Halloween and now don’t match anything, you can make money off them. Call around to your local thrift stores, see which ones will sell your things for you. Of you don’t want to do that, go to a flea market or have a garage sale and try to sell it yourself. You can also go through your household items like decorations or books and movies. There’s no use hanging on to something you know you’ll never wear or use again when you can get some cash back for it.
9) DIY projects – I’m sure we are all familiar with that famous website now, Pinterest. Have you ever actually tried some of this stuff, it can really save you some bucks! Whether you’re looking for some DIY furniture for the house or a homemade birthday present that’s way more personal (and cheaper!) than the gift card you normally pick up. I recently found an article about using an old sock for your Swiffer instead of spending money buying the throwaway pads. Who would have thought? Another pretty awesome thing I found was a gift for a loved one; you fill a jar with 365 pieces of paper, each one contains a different memory or song lyric. You give this as a present and they get to open one a day for an entire year. This is a gift that costs no more than a couple bucks and will last for an entire year. (This sounds better than the $40 sweater you were thinking about getting them, doesn’t it?) These money-saving tricks are out there, you just have to look for them.
Links: Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com Swiffer/socks – http://www.countryliving.com/home-maintenance/cleaning/g3118/house-cleaning-hacks/?Link for Note Jar picture – http://pin.it/8v_y_am
10) Spend time at home – it’s so easy to get dressed and go meet your friends at a restaurant or bar. It’s also so easy to lose track of what you’re eating/drinking and then you wake up wondering where all your money went. Next time you want to plan a girls night at that fancy place that just opened a few towns over, why don’t you plan on staying in instead? I don’t mean alone, I mean have a potluck. Have each girl bring a dish and a bottle of their favorite wine. Spend the night gossiping and playing games from the comfort of your own home. You can also do this with your significant other. While it’s nice to get dressed up and go out for your date night, why not turn on Netflix, cook dinner and have some drinks at home? The amount of money you’ll save instead of spending the night at the bar is incomparable. Plus, whether it’s a night in with your friends or you loved one, it’s always more personable than some crowded restaurant.
Believe me, I know it’s one thing so say you’re going to spend less and save more, but it’s another thing to actually do it. These tips are very simple and just a start at putting more money back in your pocket. The trick is to start little and once you start seeing your cash flow change it will encourage you to save more and more.