For some people, spending money comes naturally. That's a good trait to possess with regard to your future financial forecast, but for those not so lucky, the problem occurs when your lifestyle costs significantly higher than your budget allows. You don't have to give it ALL up. Instead, make incremental changes and impactful decisions that will help you build a savings: decipher wants from needs, consider store brand vs. name brand, order jello instead of crème brulee. Making small lifestyle choices can go a long way in saving a few bucks on the pocketbook.
If you've examined your checking account lately, and if you're anything like me, you might find out that a healthy portion of your funds are being spent dining out. Spending a few dollars here and there for lunch can quickly add up; add breakfast and dinner to that, you could be spending a large portion of your salary on take-out and lunching! The solution to the dilemma? Start meal planning more and dining out less. I know it sounds time consuming, but in the end, your pocketbook will thank you. Not only will you save money, but if you shop right, you could foster healthier eating habits, too. Not ready to make such a drastic of a change? Try substituting water for a soft drink/iced tea when dining out. You could save as much as $977 per year!
You've heard of the show, "Extreme Couponing?" The truth is, the people on that show are a bit— well, extreme— but you don't have to go that far. Before you hit the grocery store, check out the Sunday newspaper for in-store coupons and take advantage of items you would have bought any way. Some grocery stores offer free store-brand items with the purchase of name-brand items; if you're not brand loyal, this may be of benefit to you. Some supermarkets allow you to double-up and even triple-up on coupons! Additionally, buying in bulk could also save you money and another trip to the store.
Shop Thrift Stores and Yard Sales
Some thrift stores carry some of the best deals! Instead of shopping at the mall or department stores, why not rummage through your own closet and find outfits that could be accessorized differently? Tops and bottoms missing buttons can easily be replaced and be made to look like new. Do you have jeans with holes in them? Patch them up and start a new trend. Make a statement with accessory pieces found at thrift stores or yard sales; someone else's trash could be your treasure!
Use Public Transportation
Check out your local transportation options. If your home-to-work commute is within a familiar route, try it out. You might find that you actually like the convenience of having your own personal chauffer. Also, you can use the transit time to catch up on reading or answering emails since you're not driving.
Did you know that even the smallest of adjustments can save you money? Turning off appliances that are not being used can save you money, but unplugging items that aren't being used is even more cost-effective. Check with your local energy service; you could save as much as $50 per year. Tip: Only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they're full.
Re-evaluate Phone, Internet, and Cable Services
Review your cell phone bill; you could be overspending. Sometimes switching carriers or joining a family share plan could help you reduce your monthly payment and your out-of-pocket expenses in the long run—even if you may face early termination fees for ending your contract ahead of schedule. Additionally, purchasing a pre-paid phone could save you some big bucks. Gauge your need for internet services on all devices: will the internet accessibility you receive at work, on your mobile device, or at a public library be sufficient to meet your online needs? Go ahead; cut that cable service. With movies and your favorite television shows available by the season at some public libraries and Netflix (C) and Hulu (TM) subscriptions for less than $10 each, why pay extra? If you absolutely cannot disconnect form your internet/phone/cable relationship, consider bundling your services for a discount.
Consider Alternate Fitness Plans
Do you belong to a gym? How much of the equipment do you actually use? Could you get the same progress with purchasing a second-hand home system or, say, running at the track or park instead of on the treadmill? Enjoy the great outdoors and go for a bike ride, or bring out that yoga mat and become one with nature. There are an abundance of exercise videos floating around on YouTube that will give you that personal trainer feel without the added cost.
Whether you're trying to pay off debt or save a little extra cash, I hope these tips help you reevaluate your spending habits and help you reach your savings goals.