Usually, when we are trying to save money, we think that means buying cheap things. However, cheap usually goes hand-in-hand with poor quality. For example, a Parisian style striped shirt from Forever 21 may be made out of thin fabric that will shrink or look bad after a few washes, but an almost identical blouse from a department store will be made out of higher quality fabric that could last 5 years, and you’re only paying $10 or $20 more. Think about all of the items in your life that you are constantly replacing because they keep breaking, and upgrade that to a luxury-level item that will last you a lifetime.
Have you ever gone to look at the balance of your checking account, and you are shocked at the number you see? Everyone’s spending habits are different, so you need to look through your bank statements and come face-to-face with where your money is actually going. Based on where you waste the most money, you should be able to come up with a customized plan on how to cut back on spending.
Sometimes, the interest you are paying on a credit card is so high, your minimum monthly payment just gets absorbed into the interest. This makes it really, really difficult to actually pay off the debt. Look for a credit card that has a 0% interest promotion, and request a balance transfer. This usually only lasts for the first year you have the card open, but if you can aggressively start paying down that card, you will save money in the process of trying to pay it off.
Movie theaters are packed every weekend with people who are willing to pay the steep $10 to $15 movie ticket prices, on top of the cost of snacks. But most theater chains offer a discount night on Tuesdays or Wednesday, where tickets are just $5 to $7, and popcorn is half price. There are also free events in most communities at nearly every time of year. For more ideas, check out our 30 romantic date ideas that are free or cheap.
Meal prepping is the process of making your food ahead of time for the next few days and putting them into containers. This can help with dieting, but it can also be great for saving money. Through meal prep, you can feel confident knowing that you are only spending $1 or $2 per meal.
A big case of bottled water may be less than $5, but it creates a lot of extra waste in your house, and it’s not the best thing for the environment. If you just buy a Brita water filter and a reusable water bottle, they will pay for themselves after a few weeks of not buying water bottles. If you spend $5 a week on water bottles, there are 52 weeks in a year. So that’s a savings of $260.
When people hear “farmer’s market”, they sometimes imagine a play filled with hipsters who are paying a fortune for organic vegetables. While some of them are like that, the vast majority of farmers markets are actually a lot cheaper than buying produce in a grocery store. You also get to feel good knowing that you are supporting a small business owner, instead of giving your money to a big grocery chain.
People will joke that they have a “shopping addiction”, but many people actually do have that condition. For most people, shopping gives them a rush. They feel good when they get something new, and it can help cheer them up.
Are you one of those people who pays for a gym membership in hopes that maybe someday you’ll get up the motivation to actually go? If you aren’t using it, cancel it, because it’s just a waste of money. There are plenty of other ways to get exercise for free, like taking a walk or riding a bike. Try to find a fitness activity you actually enjoy, and you are more likely to stick with it.
Every single week, sales flyers come out in circulars and newspapers, but some people choose to throw away the “junk mail” without even looking at it. These papers are filled with coupons and valuable information about items that go on sale every week. Websites like TheKrazyCouponLady.com will go over the weekly sales from all of the major retailers, plus they let you know which coupons to use to get the best deals possible. If you get into the habit of doing this, you will begin to know when a great opportunity arises to stock up on household essentials for free or cheap.
Smartphone games like Pokemon Go and Candy Crush can be seriously addicting. They are designed to make you want to achieve the next level so badly, you are willing to pay real money to get the in-game items. Go through your purchase history and add up how much you have spent on the iTunes or Google Play store to see how much you have spent. If you can give yourself a budget to stick to, that’s great. But if it’s too much of a temptation, delete the app. Most games will save your game data through your login information, so you aren’t really losing any progress, in case you want to go back to it later.
Libraries sound kind of old-school, and some people haven’t been back since they graduated. However, local libraries have the newest books and DVD’s that you can borrow for free. There is also an option to listen to free audio books online with your library card number. If you are spending $20 here and there on new bestsellers, going to the library can help you save a lot.
When it comes to food, name brands often do make a difference in how something tastes. However, cleaning supplies and so many other things we use in our day-to-day lives often have the exact same ingredients, and the non-name brands are a lower price. Always check to compare, and ask yourself if the name brand item truly is any better. Dollar Tree has almost everything you could possibly need for cleaning your house and personal hygiene for just $1. Even if you only save $1 or $2, those small decisions add up over time.
Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. There are some people who feel that they need several servings of meat if they want to eat a healthy, balanced diet. In reality, you don’t need a lot of protein in your diet, unless you’re trying to be a bodybuilder. Eating too much red meat will cause high cholesterol, and it also means you are consuming more fat. If you can cut back to only eating meat once a day instead of 3 times a day, you are likely to save money, and your wallet (and waistline) will thank you.
In #22, we suggest cutting up your credit cards to resist the temptation. But a lot of people still like to keep their cards intact, just in case they run into an emergency situation. If this is the case in your situation, try keeping your credit cards at home, and only use them in actual emergencies.
4. Consider Converting to Solar Energy or a Hybrid Car
If you own a home, you should consider getting solar panels installed. Many states have grants and programs that will help pay for the up-front costs. While it’s usually not free, it’s like paying up-front so that you can get free and discounted electricity for the rest of your life.
And while they may not be the sexiest cars in the world, hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius gets an average of 50 MPG. If you research how to optimize your mileage, you can even make trips that average 80 to 100 MPG. Electric cars like Tesla might be more stylish and great for the environment, but the amount of money you are paying for the energy and monthly payments actually makes it far more expensive than a normal car, and you won’t really be saving any money at all.
So many people go shopping with their friends and family as something to do when they are bored, and they end up spending money simply because they are in a mall. When you go a store, you should have a goal in mind of why you want to be there in the first place.
For example, Target is one of those stores where they are constantly changing their interior design, which makes it new and exciting. They even have a place to sit down and have a cup of Starbucks coffee. It’s genuinely enjoyable to be there, because their brilliant marketers designed it to feel that way. But if you go in without any actual reason to be there, you are almost guaranteed to waste money, because they sell almost anything you could possibly want or need.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but making a sandwich at home costs just a few cents, and it will cost a few dollars at a shop. If you have a microwave at work, you can also bring leftovers from last night’s dinner in a glass container. Stick with easy meals you genuinely enjoy so that you are looking forward to your bag lunch, instead of feeling like it’s a burden or that you are somehow missing out on something. If you hate doing it, you won’t stick with the habit.
Generally speaking, dinner is way more expensive than lunch. Not only is the food lighter, but most restaurants have great prices on lunch specials, because they are trying to attract more people to come in earlier in the day. It also takes away the temptation to drink alcohol, since it’s before 5PM.