Top 10 Fun Ways To Save Money
Saving money doesn't have to be boring. It just requires you to think creatively. Look at your current spending habits and decide where you can cut costs so you can channel some of your hard earned money into a savings plan.
Rule Number 1 for budgeting and saving is "Pay Yourself First". If all your income goes towards paying bills and simply surviving, you will feel deprived. If you feel deprived for long enough chances are you will break out and spend more than you can spare. Allow some money for fun, even if it is only small amounts to begin with.
Try to save regularly, even if it is just a small amount. It's hard to stay motivated if all your money is going to pay other people. Changing habits is about change, not self denial. Saving is a positive habit that needs to be established now, even if you are in debt.
These are my top 10 fun ways for saving money. You might have some other fun ideas to add to my list.
1. More Dash Than Cash!
One of my favourite ways to save money is to shop for clothing at thrift shops. In Australia we call them "opportunity shops" or "op-shops". My daughters have inherited my love for chasing a bargain and putting together great outfits at a fraction of the cost of retail stores. My youngest daughter recently picked up a JAG label bomber jacket for $20. I personally thought that was a lot to pay for an op-shop purchase but my daughter convinced me it was a bargain after showing me the same jacket being sold online for $280! The great thing about buying from these not-for-profit stores is that we are helping local charities too.
We have also picked up antique furniture, jewellery and household items at these stores at very reasonable prices and when we want something new to read we buy books and bundles of fashion and gossip magazines - which are only a month or two out of date.
Our next favourite places to shop for clothes is our local markets and garage sales (or yard sales). You can pick up great 2nd hand jeans, tops, shoes and boots, sometimes barely worn and often brand new. We call this style of shopping and dressing "More dash, than cash!'
2. Pay Less For The Latest Toys
Over the years, with four children in the family, I have purchased the latest toys and technology second hand from Ebay, pawn broker shops and through local classified ads at a fraction of the retail cost. Items including Game Boys, Nintendo games, body boards, bicycles and music gear, cameras, televisions and DVD players. One year Santa brought second hand Game Boys (in brand new cases), they worked fine and no-one was the wiser.
3. Sell Something
If you want to generate some quick cash to start your savings plan look around your house to see what you could sell. Do you have a spare refrigerator, a spare piece of furniture, a bicycle, quality kids toys like Lego and Duplo, baby clothes or books? Consider listing these on an auction sites like Ebay or advertise your item for free on sites like CraigsList or Gumtree.
If you have a number of items you could organise to have a garage sale or rent a stall at your local Sunday market. We have successfully used all of these methods to generate cash.The secret here is to present your items well to make them more appealing.
Take great photos if you are listing your item online and give a detailed description. Think about the questions people might ask about your item. They will want to know the colour, the size (include measurements), the fabric, the age and maybe why you are selling and anything else of interest.
If you are selling at a garage sale or market clean all your items thoroughly and display them in a tidy fashion so people can easily browse through them all. Taking time to set your sale up properly usually results in more items being sold and bigger profits. Hang clothes on portable clothes racks. Display household items and toys on tables. Put small toys, card collections, marbles and puzzles into clear zip lock bags.
I always price my items as people generally don't like to ask the price of everything. They can always make an offer if they want to bargain. Offer deals such as "3 books for $1.00" to encourage bulk buying. Have plastic carry bags, lots of small change and lots of fun meeting new people.
4. Drive a Second Hand Car
A friend once told me that you should drive the "cheapest car you are not ashamed to be seen in" and, let's face it, a car loan on a brand new car can be a burden and a serious hindrance to your new savings plan. So I guess if you don't really NEED a brand new car maybe your good looking second hand will do while you get your savings plan under way? Your brand new car will only lose value as soon as you drive it out of the car yard.
Keep your car as long as possible: When possible, hang on to your car for as long as possible. Work out the money spent on repairs versus the monthly loan installment on another vehicle and choose to run your old car as long as the repair costs are low.
5. Save the Small Stuff
You know the sayings "Watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves" and "A penny saved is a penny earned"? Put some piggy banks throughout the house and every coin you find around the house, in the washing machine or on the street, put in the piggy bank. Once it is full go to the bank and deposit it in your savings account.
I once accompanied a friend going to deposit the money they had saved in one of those large money tins you can buy at discount or variety stores. It was filled with $1 and $2 (Australian) coins and amounted to nearly $1000!
Another trick I read about was to save $5 bills. Whenever you receive a $5 bill as change, don't spend it. Put it into an envelope for savings and deposit this money at the end of each month. You can save $100 to $150 a month using this method.
6. Holidays On The Cheap
Holidays are fun and give us the chance to break out and see something new, relax and spend quality time with our partners or family. But holidays can be a big drain on the finances so here are a few ideas to help you cut costs on your next vacation.
Plan vacations ahead of time to get the cheapest airfares. Look out for special deals with your favourite airlines, subscribe to their newsletter to get the latest deals.
Having said that, sometimes booking package deals or accommodation late can be the cheapest because tour operators have chartered the planes and reserved the rooms, and, if they don't sell them all they might lose money. The later you leave it, the more desperate they are to fill empty rooms, so the price drops further.
Take a holiday when others can't, such as before school holidays and you'll get a better price. Or choose a destination that was once popular but is now out of vogue where hotel rooms are never filled and the demand is off-the-boil.
To save on accommodation stay at a camping ground or caravan park (in a tent) and have more money for the fun things like visiting local attractions or shopping.
if you don't mind all bunking in together, stay at the local back packers hostel. Many hostels will welcome families and you can often share a small dormitory type room, with just your own family, or upgrade to the cheaper priced private rooms. We stayed in 2 private rooms as a family of 6 in Hollywood and saved a bundle when compared to the surrounding hotels.
Get online to find a "last minute" deal on hotel rooms. Cheap hotels still have ensuites, televisions, tea and coffee and comfortable beds (usually). We all LOVE to stay in luxurious accommodation but travelling on a tight budget and using cheaper forms of accommodation is sometimes the difference between actually been able to go on a vacation or not.
When you are travelling with a family you usually find you are out and about sight seeing all day and, you might even go out to eat at night, so a cheap hotel can serve the same purpose as a luxury one - by providing somewhere to sleep and have a shower. Some of our most memorable family holidays have been staying in budget hotels! Alternatively, try to find an older style cheap hotel right in the heart of things, amongst the luxury ones, so you can walk to everything and enjoy the same variety of coffee shops, boutique stores and local attractions.
If your hotel room is not set up for self-catering you can still take a picnic basket or disposable plates, cups, spoons etc. and buy small boxes of cereal, yoghurts, fruit, snack foods and milk for breakfast. Even budget hotel rooms have a fridge and purchasing some of your food at the supermarket will save spending a fortune on snacks every time the family gets hungry.
7. Speedy Grocery Shopping
There are a number of ways you can save money on groceries but once suggestion I found works is to go shopping when you are in a hurry! That way, armed with a grocery list, you will just go in and out quickly picking up the items you really need. There will be no time to meander up and down all the aisles and you wont be tempted to buy things you don't need.
I do buy generic or store brands were possible for the staple items like milk, bread, sugar, margarine and eggs. Some people have certain store brand items they don't like to use. I don't particularly like the store brand washing powder so I will look for the next best thing, whatever is on sale for the cheapest price. Some people like to buy in bulk or stock up on items when they are really cheap.
Some supermarkets will always mark down their bakery items to half price near closing time or on weekends and will mark down items that are near their use buy date. I am an avid buyer of the items marked "Reduced For Quick Sale"!
I have found that fresh fruit and vegetables are often cheaper at smaller fruit shops or in stores that specialise in fresh produce. like Farmer Charlies, than in the supermarket. These stores tend to purchase local produce which is much fresher and usually purchased by the store at a cheaper price so they can pass the savings on to you by offering great specials. The other place to purchase cheap,fresh produce is at a local weekend 'farmers' market if you have one in your area.
8. Visit The Library
Visiting your local library is a free form of entertainment that children particularly enjoy. Your public library is home to a wealth of resources and you can spend hours just browsing through the shelves. Obviously you can save money by borrowing fiction and non-fiction books in areas of interest, instead of buying them, but most libraries also have subscriptions to all the popular magazines so you can borrow the latest edition of your favourite publication. Our local library also has a huge collection of computer games, CDs and DVDs so it can be a cheap way to catch a few good movies and documentaries or keep the kids entertained.
9. Freeze Your Credit Card
Yes that's right! If you insist on keeping your credit card for 'emergencies' store it in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. Put the card in the middle of a container full of ice cubes to stop it from floating to the top. Fill the container with water and freeze. That way you will have to defrost it before you can use it and if it is left at home you wont be tempted to make "impulse" purchases on items you don't really need. you’ll have to wait for it to defrost, which will give you a “cooling off” period to consider your expenditures.
Pay for your purchases with cash or use your debit card that draws on money in your bank account. Studies have shown that you will spend spend up to 20 percent less this way.
Credit cards are like Monopoly money, says Priya Raghubir of New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Cash has a face value, so it feels more real, more transparent,” Raghubir says. “There’s a little pain attached to parting with it.”
10. Dont' Keep Up With The Jones's
Life is not a competition between you and your high-roller friends, that love to spend money on the latest cars, toys and 'do-dads'. There are a number of underlying factors in society that drive people to consume too much, to overspend and live beyond their means. Many of us feel we have to show off our success and we actually think we 'need' to have what other people have.
We are subject to prolific advertising and promotion of the latest products that we should have in our homes. We are encouraged to buy more and more stuff everyday. Getting credit is easy and our society favours instant gratification over hard work. We want everything and we want it now.
But is it really necessary to fill our homes with stuff just to impress other people? Don't be envious of the people you see who buy a new car every other year, have the latest flat screen smart TV and eat out at fancy restaurants every other night. Most of them are living way beyond their means. Many of the people are deeply in debt. If you ask them how they are doing, they will tell you that they are just barely getting by.
Several years ago now I visited friends who were teaching in Vanuatu. They lived in housing provided by the school with their 3 children. It was sparsely furnished and electricity went off at 10pm every night when the generator was turned off. It came back on again at 6.00am the next morning and you hoped that the small amount of food kept in the fridge wasn't spoiled. However, the lifestyle was fantastic and the island was beautiful. This experience gave me a whole new perspective on life. I realised how little we actually do need to live on and get by. I love to travel so, when I returned, I figured if I could live with less and save more I would be able to travel more often - buying experiences instead of stuff!
Trying to keep up with these people often can lead to a lot of unnecessary desires and discontent. What’s more important – having all this stuff at a price or your peace of mind knowing you are living in your means and saving money that can be used to invest and accumulate wealth over time (with a few fun times in between)?