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Anyone Can Save Money — Starting Today!
Saving money can be very challenging. But anyone can turn their financial life around. I’ve had to take charge of my bank accounts and spending habits on several different occasions. The biggest one being when I was a single mom. Back then I had the usual monthly expenses, and my paycheck was $400.00 bi-weekly. So, I knew I had to create a sensible budget and stick to it. The first few things I did: canceled my alarm system monthly service; used the TV antennae instead of cable; checked-out books and movies from the library every weekend; cut my own grass (picked-up and set out pine straw, did my own weed-eating, trimmed my hedges and trees, sprayed around my house for bugs, termites, and fire ants, etc.); planted a small garden in my backyard; and read my mother’s magazines when she was finished with them. All of these little changes helped me save money.
Good Financial Habits Are Achievable
This was also the time that I realized I needed to go back to school and get a degree in something that I found interesting and that would also pay my bills. The short version is this — I was accepted into the nursing program. I worked hard and got every scholarship and grant that I could get. I made good grades in school, I was never absent, and I continued to work part-time. Meanwhile, I maintained a strict, calculated budget, and I aimed to pay every bill at least a week before it was due. I eventually earned my degree, passed my boards, and got a full-time job as a registered nurse. Today, I don’t have to worry about money as much as I used to, but these money-saving habits are still with me.
I know you have your own stories and struggles that you have to get through. And, you may be going through some hard times right now. Just know that you can do this. The hardest part is taking those first steps. So, consider implementing a few of these tips in your daily routine. Some of these suggestions take just a few minutes, while others require a bit of regular effort. And, not all of these tips will apply to everyone. But, they are all simple steps – anyone can do them for easy ways to save money.
Track Your Spending Habits
If you think you are spending more than you should but aren’t sure exactly where to start trimming expenses, it can be a good idea to self-audit and see exactly where your money is going. There are several websites, like statusmoney.com, that can help you connect your accounts in one place and track your spending. Plus, I’ll bet your personal bank has a financial manager that will be happy to help you create a saving/spending plan at no charge. Another easy tip is to set-up checking account alerts that will notify you before your payment is due, and alerts that will let you know when you are exceeding a spending limit and/or if your account balance has dropped below a specified amount. This way you will always know how much you have in your account.
Set a Logical Budget
While it seems simple to create a budget for each month’s expenses, it can actually be pretty hard. Rather than expending time and effort aiming for a goal that is not realistic use online tools to help set a benchmark that is achievable. And, I have found that it is better to budget on the high-end of what you think a bill or expense will be, rather than under-budgeting and then over-drawing on your account. I’ve included this Monthly Budget Worksheet for you to complete each month.
Turn off the TV and Save Money
There are so many financial benefits to this one. First, you can drastically reduce your electric bill by turning off the television. Second, you could even go a step further and get rid of cable altogether, like I did. Then, you will have more time to focus on other things in life. Like a side business, going back to school, or even just to read a good book. Plus, television ads are always trying to get you to buy something. By turning off the TV you aren’t tempted to buy what they are selling. This tip is a fast and easy way to save money, starting today.
Cancel Magazine Subscriptions
I’ve done this before, and at first, it was hard. I had grown used to the convenience of having specific magazines show up in my mailbox every other week. But, then I realized just how much I was spending on yearly magazine subscriptions, and that my local library has copies of all the magazines I love. You may find that you can borrow some of your favorites from your parents, neighbors, and friends.
Make Meals at Home
As you know, eating out every day at restaurants can be very expensive. It’s usually way more cost-effective, and healthy, to prepare your meals at home and take leftovers or deli-style sandwiches to work or school. This is how I learned more about portion control, and I lost ten pounds when I brought my lunch with me every day in a small cooler. My cholesterol numbers also went down, as I was eating less-fatty meals. You can also make extra-large batches of your favorite foods and you will have the excess to eat on the rest of the week.
Drink Water and Stop Smoking
Yes, these two are obvious. First, if you do smoke, you have to know by now that your habit is not only expensive but potentially lethal as well. If you want to add years to your life and save a ton of money, the easiest thing to do is to stop smoking. As for water, it has great health and financial benefits. Drinking water when you are out and about means spending less money on beverages like sugary soda, juice, and tea. And, remember, tap water is not only just as clean as bottled water, it’s also free. Just think of how much money you will save if you can implement both of these! Yep, another quick and easy way to save money!
Stop Collecting and Start Selling to Save Money
This may not be for everyone, but some of you may have a large collection of items that you can sell to recoup some of the money you have spent. For example, I have a fairly, sizeable collection of Rae Dunn pottery. Yes, I LOVE these dishes, but most of them are just sitting around and collecting dust. For collectible items you can try to sell them on Craig’s List, Mercari, eBay, local flea markets, have a yard sale, etc. My plan is to actually USE the items that I want to keep (cereal bowls, coffee mugs) and to sell the items that I never use and that I have multiples of. My husband will be so happy.
Give DIY Items as Gifts
This is something I have been doing for a long time. If you are even slightly crafty, this tip is for you. There are so many things that you can make and give as gifts that will save you lots of moolah. You can make food mixes, chapstick, body butter, candles, bath bombs, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, printable art, and all kinds of other things at home quite easily and inexpensively. For instance, I like to pick-up free pallets from different places (friends, Home Depot, your local grocery store, etc.), tear apart the pallets, salvage the best pieces of wood, stain or paint the planks, and then paint a message on one side for a beautiful sign. Most people love that you have added a personal touch and so much thoughtfulness to their gift. It’s a win-win!
Stick to A Shopping List
One of the easiest ways to save money is to ONLY shop when you have a LIST. When you don’t have a list, you typically end up making impulse buys and unplanned purchases. This is especially important before going to the grocery store. Having a grocery list will help you buy items that fit with your meal plan, but it can also help you avoid buying food you might waste. So, always create a list and stick to it! Here is a Weekly Meal Plan and Market List for you to plan out your week of meals. Don’t stray from the list! : )
The 30-Day Rule
Avoiding instant gratification is one of the most important rules of personal finance. And, waiting 30 days to decide on a purchase is a great way to master that rule. In most cases, after a month has passed, you will find that the urge to buy has passed as well. You will have saved yourself some cash simply by waiting.
Saving money can be a challenge for people in all walks of life. But, by creating a plan you can help change the outlook of your financial life for the better.
You may also like my post on 10 Ways to be Incredibly Happy Now!
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