How to Spend Less and Save More
Where to Start:
When you spend more than you earn sometimes it's difficult to know just where to start. Feelings of growing debt drag you down further and you find yourself gasping for air!
Don't panic. There are many easy, simple ways to get you on the road to recovering your financial well-being. Many of which take little to no effort!
Step 1: Waste Not Want Not
Food ~ When you prepare your meals and find there are left overs it is important that you don't just toss them away. While eating the same old thing day after day can get a bit bland, there are plenty of ways to change your left overs into something new or different. You may also consider making lunches to take with you to work out of them rather than eating out.
Cardboard boxes & packaging ~ Don't just toss away your empty cereal boxes or any other cardboard that is used for packaging new items from the store. All of it can be reused! There are hundreds of craft sites and ideas to turn that trash into a treasure for storage, decorations, gifts, and more! If you don't have a crafty bone in your body you could always just save them up and use them to stick holiday gifts in rather than purchase wrapping paper or gift boxes.
Cans ~ Soda cans can be recycled to bring in a few extra dollars. Tin cans from food can be washed, cleaned and turned into storage cans, pencil cans, or a number of other crafty little things. They can also be recycled for extra money.
Food waste ~ Fruit and vegetable bits that you cut off and won't use in cooking can be used to make compost. This in turn can add a good deal of nutrients to your potted plants or vegetable gardens instead of purchasing plant food. Worm farming is another option here. You can feed these scraps (including coffee grounds) to a worm box. The worms make fantastic soil and breed like mad. Not only will you get top quality soil, but you'll get fishing worms as well that can either be used personally or sold to friends & family who like to fish.
Clothes ~ Don't just toss your old clothes into the trash or a bag bound for the thrift store. Old clothes can be turned into a million different things! Shop rags, bathroom rugs, pants to shorts, purses, totes, pillows, bean bags... the list goes on. All one needs to do is search for craft ideas online and the lists are endless! If nothing else you can have a garage sale to make some extra money.
Lint ~ yes, even lint isn't really garbage. You can use it as a fire starter or to make clay. Lint clay can be shaped and molded into a wide number of different things to be added around the house for decoration or given as gifts.
* When you are looking to save money and spend less it is important to look at the things you already have around the house, things you may generally consider waste or trash and find a new, useful way to make them work for you. The less you toss away, the less you will end up purchasing.
Step 2: Stop Over Spending
Most of us spend money that we don't even think about. This thoughtless spending adds up to hundreds of dollars by the end of the year!
Make your own coffee rather than buying it out ~ even grabbing a quick cup at the gas station every morning before work adds up.
Make your own lunch rather than eating out ~ not only is it a generally healthier choice, it saves hundreds of dollars over the year.
Buy generic ~ it tastes the same, seriously. The only reason name brand food costs more is because the company is charging you for the advertising they spend. Price check everything! You aren't going to lose on quality but you will have a lower bill.
Buy clearance ~ when you shop for non-food items it pays to check out the sales racks first. Clothes don't make the person; the person makes the outfit!
Stop and think to yourself "Do I really need this right now, or do I just want it?" If you don't really need it, don't get it! Challenge yourself to see if there is a way you can make what you want or trade with one of your friends or family for it.
Maybe you want to get a cool new organizer for your desk ~ you could make one instead using items you would have otherwise thrown away. Your creation could even look better than the one you were going to buy!
Maybe you want a cute new dress. Your aunt knows how to sew, but she needs someone to weed her garden. BINGO! "Hey, Auntie, I'll weed your garden if you sew me a dress that looks like this one." Even if you can't find any of your old clothes to use and you have to purchase materials for it, the sewn dress is going to cost less than the one at the store.
Thrift stores and garage sales, flea markets and swap meets are fantastically under-rated! Use them to your advantage. Get into the spirit of only spending your money on a good deal and only after you have determined there is no way you can make it or trade for it.
Lower Your Expenses:
If you make $100 and you spend $100, you have nothing left. If you make $100 and you spend $90, well then, you've made some progress haven't you!
Shop around to see if you can get a better deal on auto insurance.
Menu plan, grocery shop with cost effectiveness in mind to lower your grocery expenses for the month.
Conserve your water, electric, heating, and cooling as much as possible.
Ride share, walk, bike, or take public transit to cut down on gas and vehicle maintenance costs.
* When the cost of your bills goes down, the amount of what's left over goes up!
Do it Yourself:
Stop going to the salon to get your nails done or your hair fixed. Buy a box of hair dye and do it yourself. Buy the nail supply kits and do the touch ups at home, rather than at the salon. If you need to have a friend help you so it comes out just right, then go for it.
If something around the house needs fixing or repairs check the internet before calling a handy-man. The library has all sorts of books that can help you figure out how to make repairs yourself rather than hiring someone else to do it for you.
Wash your own car rather than zipping through a car wash you pay for.
Clean your own house!
There are so many things we pay other people to do that we can do ourselves. Sometimes we get carried away with the luxuries of having it done for us that we forget that we are capable of doing it ourselves. Take back the power! Take back the control. Take back your independence.
Gardens and livestock
Even if you live in a small apartment in a crowded city you can at least have a potted herb plant.
The more you can grow yourself, the more you will save. The price of food is ridiculous!
If you don't garden, odds are you know someone who does. Offer to help in exchange for some of the produce.
If you don't live in an area where you can have your own chickens, goats, or a cow; do you at least know someone who likes to fish or hunt? The more meat you can acquire outside of the grocery store the better. Meat is expensive!
Maybe you garden and someone else you know has a chicken farm or likes to hunt. Set up an exchange. 10 tomatoes for a pound of ground venison (or something like that). A dozen eggs for 2 green peppers. You get the idea. Bottom line, try to find alternative ways to get at least some of your food.
You don't want to give up all of your freedom. You still want to get out and have a good time, right? You can still be money conscious and have a good time.
Picnic at the park
Go to a matinee instead of a late show - it's generally 1/2 the cost
Take a walk or a hike
So swimming at the lake instead of a pool where you have to pay for admission
The possibilities are many as long as you keep an open mind and have fun with it. The most important thing to take away from this article is that if you look at saving money as a fun challenge, rather than a punishment you'll be more successful at it. Who knows, you might even end up sharing or teaching others all of the great new ways you've come up with to save money.