I grew up with no money. Zero, zilch, nada - I know how it feels to not be able to buy milk, to have to return bottles for that tiny cash refund so you can buy a piece of bread, so I definitely know how to make a dollar stretch more. I've built a very nice life for myself these days but sometimes there still comes a time where you need to cut back a bit, and we're in one of those right now. With a mortgage and rent payment, we have more money going out than we're used to so we're cutting back on some of our luxuries but also some basics that are just unnecessary. I think saving money can be quite fun and once I get going, it becomes like an obsession. I make it into a bit of a game for myself and I find different ways of cutting back on things and its just so satisfying! I wanted to share some of my favorite tips, I hope you'll find them helpful!
1. "Even small holes will eventually sink a great ship." THIS! Watch your small spending. The $5, $20, $50 stuff. It adds up to a lot in the end! It's usually not the big purchases that hurt you, its all that careless spending that you dont even know you're doing. A coffee here, a t-shirt there, eating out a couple times during the week, another coffee... For example, ditching your daily Starbucks saves you about $5 a day (depending on your beverage of choice), that adds up to $1,825 per year. $1,825!! Thats two flights to Europe! Or a full week at the luxurious W hotel in Ft Lauderdale. I know what I'd pick.
2. Shop at Lidl. No this is not sponsored but I do work there as you know. However, by switching to Lidl you can save up to 50% off your grocery bill. True story. What do you spend on your groceries each week? $200, $300, $400? Whatever it is, imagine cutting it in half!
3. Make your food (that you've now bought at Lidl)! This goes into point numero uno, to watch your small spending. If you buy lunch at work everyday, thats about $10 a day. Your work 5 days a week for lets say 49 weeks a year, so thats $2,450 right there. That along with your coffee savings and you're on your way to the French Riviera! Also, making your food is so much better for you, so you'll most likely end up shedding a few pounds as well. Win-win!
4. Find free things to do on the weekends. Last weekend we had a blast and we didnt spend a dime. We walked around the Alexandria Waterfront, then went to Gravelly Park to watch the planes land, and hung out on our rooftop. Find free things to do where you live, it can be museums, picnics in a park, hiking, biking, fairs, festivals, etc. Spending time with your family doesn't have to cost money.
5. Use the 30-day rule. If you feel the urge to buy something, wait for 30 days. If you still think about the item and still want it, buy it. But 9 times out of 10, you wont even remember it. This is a great way to control impulse spending (which is one of my biggest issues).
6. Pay off your credit cards in full each month! Please please please, this is so important. I never have credit running, I simply dont buy stuff I cant afford. Pay if off, every. single. month. Otherwise you'll get robbed by the interest rate.
7. Use credit card points to pay for stuff. Most credit cards today have great programs where you can either get your travel purchases erased with points, or you can use points for buying stuff on Amazon and other retailers. Use them!
8. Set up automatic savings! I have a setting on my bank account where as soon as my salary comes in, a set amount goes into savings. Its gone before I even see it. This is a great way to "trick" yourself and force save.
9. Shop only on sale, and go treasure hunting at places like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. This is a great way to keep your budget in check, even when you need to shop. If you want to shop at certain brands, sign up for their emails to get notified when they have a sale (or dont sign up if you cant buy anything at the moment, as you might get too tempted).
10. Mix the last bit of soap/dish soap/detergent with water. You'll be surprised how long it lasts! Cut your toothpaste tube in half and scoop our the last bit. I guarantee it'll last for at least 2-3 more days! Tear your dryer sheets in half, the box will last twice as long! Again, the small stuff matters (the compound effect my friends).
BONUS TIP: Saving money is great but sometimes you need to increase your income as well. I highly recommend Everyday Vogue's post on how she made $20k in less than 6 months by selling her old stuff. That in combination with the above tips will definitely help you get on the right track.
Thats it! Make a game of it and make it fun, it doesn't have to be a drag, I promise! You can let the whole family be a part of it too, and keep a scoreboard of your weekly savings on the fridge. Let me know how you do!