I’ve created this list of 10 ways to save money because I am tired of looking at lists that all say the same things.
“Skip the Starbucks and make your coffee at home.”
“Take public transit instead of your car.”
“Turn off lights in your home when you leave a room.”
These tips save me exactly zero dollars. They might be helpful to some people, but here’s my problem: I don’t like coffee, nor do I own a car, and growing up my mom would always ask me and my siblings to turn off lights, and that has made turning off lights an ingrained habit of mine.
If you’re really looking to save some cash and have done the usual suggestions you may feel like there are no other things you can do and that you’re saving all the money there is to save. It will be a challenge to squeeze some extra money out of your finances every month to go towards a travel fund (or whatever you want, really) — but it’s possible. So how about some money-saving tips for the rest of us?
1. Learn to love what you have
I used to love shopping — I mean, I still do — but I’ve learned to curb my spending and when I want to go out and buy something new, I ask myself if I really need something else. Will this new item vastly improve my life? Do I have something like it already? Is this something I want, just because?
Whether your weakness is clothing, technology, home decor, or whatever else your little heart may desire, try to find the beauty in a well-loved and cared for item. It’s fine to have hobbies and to treat yourself, but this shouldn’t make you go broke.
2. Shop around
When you do legitimately need something, figure out where you can get it the cheapest. I’m totally guilty of purchasing most of my needs from Amazon Prime because, well, it’s quick and painless. But as much as I love Amazon and will continue to use them, they aren’t always the cheapest option and sometimes you’re simply paying for the convenience of 2-day shipping.
By considering other options and comparing prices, you’ll spend a little bit of your time but save some money. Take a look at coupons, online sale codes, local stores, or sites that offer introductory discounts. I recently placed an order for Burning Man supplies and saved over $20 by getting some items cheaper on a different site. It may not end up saving you a lot in the end, but every little bit will add up!
3. Take care of yourself
Brush your teeth, exercise, drink lots of vitamin C, get plenty of sleep, wash your hands often, and drink 8 glasses of water every day. The fewer times you have to get your butt to the doctor, dentist, or physical therapist, and the fewer medications you need, the better off you are. Once I started biking regularly, my health improved noticeably. It’s not so much that I lost weight, but my body was just healthier. I started getting sick less and having more energy.
Even if you have insurance that covers all of your medical woes (Dental? You lucky duck…) it doesn’t change the fact that you have to take time out of your schedule or workday to keep these appointments. And who wants to spend their sick days allotment from work on actual days that you’re sick? 😉
DIY what, exactly? Well, basically anything that you go out and pay someone else to do. I can’t tell you the last time I actually went into a salon to get my hair dyed, but I do know that dropping $120 every month for my pink locks is not gonna happen. And thus, hairstylist Theresa was born.
So give it a try at home: manicures, waxing, haircuts, beard trims, art, massages, car or bike repair, home repair, or tech and electronic work, just to name a few. If you’re up for trying something new and getting some fun (and maybe unexpected results), then you could save a lot of money this way.
5. Learn to cook
Eating out is so fun, so delicious! Oh, and so expensive. :-/ What’s the secret to keep from eating out all the time? Answer: have badass meals at home!
Learning to cook some delicious foods and eating at home will be just as exciting and fun as going to a restaurant, and it’s a big plus that you know exactly what goes into your food. I recently wanted to relive my time in New Orleans, so I made a spicy Creole bean dish I found online and beignets. You don’t have to take cooking lessons — check out books from your local library, find YouTube tutorials, or ask friends or family for help. If you can read, you can cook.
6. Revise your subscriptions and memberships
Magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, and premium Spotify are all nice to have, but the money you save each month could go towards a travel fund. After over a year of using Spotify I just downgraded to the peasant’s subscription. Sure, ads suck, and not getting as much freedom to play whatever I want on my phone isn’t awesome, but it’s also not the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.
Are you really using your unlimited yoga membership to justify paying for it? Do you need Hulu and Netflix or could you just do with one? If you get a monthly subscription box, do you use all of the items in it each month? Determine what monthly plans you can do without to give yourself a little more spending money.
7. Become the planner
One problem you’ll run into when wanting to save money is that other people will be inviting you to cool things you can’t do. Concerts with ridiculous covers, drinks at swanky cocktail bars, evening films at the movie theater, Friday night bowling, brunch…ugh, I hate saying no to brunch, but it can easily become the most expensive meal of the week. Of course you’d love to go to all of those things, but when you’re looking to save cash, sometimes even $20 can feel like a lot.
So what to do? Well, first, when you turn people down for things, let them know you truly do appreciate the invites and do want to hang out. Then, to keep from becoming a hermit, you have to take charge and be the organizer.
Invite friends over for an evening of Orange is the New Black bingeing and a potluck. Find a happy hour spot and get a group together. Arrange a Saturday morning hike. For each event/gathering/activity/etc. you organize, find one or two people you know are in, and grow your invites from there. That way, you’ll at least have one other person joining you, if not more. It’s a little more work but you’ll get to be social while spending money more on your terms.
8. Handle credit card debt ASAP
I’ve learned the hard way to only buy things you really, truly can afford. Debt in general is frustrating, but credit card debt is particularly daunting. It’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world knowing that you’re scraping together what you can to pay it off and you’re barely making a dent.
Getting a personal loan and starting with a fresh slate has really made a difference in my finances and also in my self esteem. Instead of feeling jerked around and taken advantage of by the ridiculous credit card company rates, I have an interest rate that is less than half of what I was paying before. In the end, I’ll be saving hundreds of dollars and taking care of everything months (if not years) sooner than I would have just keeping the credit cards. I just wish that I’d done it sooner!
9. Sell your shit
Chances are you have small things here and there that you’re not using and could be valuable to someone else. You won’t make a fortune, but a few bucks here and there is better than letting unused things sit in your closet. I’m slowly weeding through things I own, giving them to people who will get more use out of them, and getting some extra money at the same time.
Pro tip: wash or dust the item before photographing it, and to try to take pictures in natural light. Seriously, a well-lit, well-composed photo will make all the difference when trying to sell old knick knacks, clothing, furniture, and electronics. Turn to Instagram for inspiration, and post to Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, or even Facebook groups you’re a part of.
10. Keep your eye on the prize
And by that I mean have some kind of goal that you’re saving up for. A trip, a new suitcase, an instrument, dance lessons, your passport, a new set of tarot cards…whatever it is, it’s a lot easier to save money when you have that really awesome thing in mind. For me, Burning Man is on my mind, and then a November trip to Brazil. That’s what is going to make all the penny-pinching and Netflix nights and Spotify commercials worth it. 🙂
Oh, and a bonus: get insurance for your belongings
It seems a little counterintuitive to save money by spending it, but insurance that will cover the items you own (like renter’s insurance) is incredibly valuable. My dude recently had something expensive of his stolen from my apartment, and his renter’s insurance covered it. So ask yourself: if you had to replace your phone, computer, or another pricey item tomorrow, could you? If money would hold you back from doing that, then you should get insurance to cover these things. Hopefully you won’t even need it, but if and when you do, you’ll be incredibly grateful to have the coverage.
What’s the most valuable money-saving tip you have?
Death to the Stock Photo