How to Save Money and Not Feel The Pinch
Save Money Without Feeling Like You're Missing Out
What is the most important to you?
Reflect on what you can absolutely not cut back on (your expensive high speed internet connection, travel expenses to visit family etc.)
Then, think about what it is you are trying to save up for, is this more or less important than the things you could not cut back on? (Is travelling worth having a worse internet connection?, is an emergency fund worth not going out every Friday?)
This may help put everything into perspective. If you find that you do not want to cut back on your current lifestyle for something you are saving up for, you wont have the willpower to save money in the long-run.
What are the expenses that you can not avoid?
These are things like rent and public transport. Write your total allowance for the month, and minus these expenses from the total amount. What you are left with is your real allowance that you have more control over.
Start with habits you have at home:
Switch off the lights when you leave. Don't have your heating or air conditioning on all night. Air-dry your clothes rather than tumble dry. Wash your clothes strictly two times a week. Small habits like these are best to change as soon as possible, as over months of paying electricity they can add up.
In college, I lived in an apartment alone. I would spend my evenings in the college, and I would arrive home and switch on heating for an hour while I ate and got ready for bed. I washed my clothes 4-6 times a month, and tried to re-use clothing such as jeans. When I first started living alone, I spent 60 euros (about 70 USD) without heating. Now I spend 25 USD including heating with these tips. That's a 45 USD savings per month.
Downgrade where you feel most comfortable
Maybe you don't need an expensive high speed/unlimited phone plan if you have free WiFi at school/work and at home. Downgrade plans, even if it is for a few dollars. This also includes subscriptions such as Netflix, do you really need HD? Few dollars here and there, can add up throughout the whole year.
Grocery shop responsibly
Make sure you go grocery shopping on a full stomach, that way you will not indulge on quick fixes. Start with the basics. Food that will go in your pantry, is unlikely to go bad, or food that you know you eat everyday (perhaps cereal). Make sure you stock up on these products for double the time you expect to go shopping next.
For example, I go grocery shopping once a month. I buy pastas, rice, spices, eggs, milk and chicken that will last me two months. This way I can benefit from buy 2 get 1 free discounts and I can see that I am spending money where I will be using the products the most.
After seeing how much you've spent on the basics, draw yourself a budget to buy other ingredients you use for cooking. Such as sauces, cheeses, biscuits etc.
The farmers market
If you are blessed to live in a country that has very cheap produce, go to the farmers market. Stock up enough vegetables that you are sure you will use, which will not rot. Make it a habit of going there, since it is often better for you and cheaper to buy from a farmer's market.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Chocolate and Sweets
- Going out every weekend
To not feel the pinch of spending less money, try minimize the cost rather than minimize the amount of times you go out/buy chocolate etc.
For example, if you smoke, roll tobacco. Or buy a brand you don't like so you are less tempted to smoke. If you buy chocolate and sweets, try cheaper brands or find something to replace it with cheaper alternatives (personally, having apples with peanut butter makes me crave sweets less).
As for alcohol, whether you like buying expensive liquor or wine, or spend a lot of money on alcohol on a night out, try have at-home parties with a few close friends. For example, ask everyone to bring some alcohol, organize a game night, and then go out afterwards. Going out later at night, reduces your need to spend money on alcohol at expensive clubs or bars.
We all deserve to enjoy what we love most. If you like buying clothes, or new gadgets, try ordering it online with a predetermined budget. Shopping online is often cheaper, as you are exposed to cheaper brands than what is offered in your area. Also, some cheaper sites are uniquely online.
Hopefully you will find this useful to saving money on your average expenses. This goes without saying, but if you want to save money faster, it is a good idea to make radical changes. However, if you enjoy your current lifestyle, and do not want to compromise it for saving money,The cutting back little bits here and there is the way to go.