We all want to save money. For many of us, the day we started earning, we immediately began spending, enjoying the freedom from the constraints of our parents and their advice. For others, saving has always come completely naturally. These folks seem to be in the minority, however. If you find yourself spending twice the amount you planned after entering the shopping mall, you need to stop and rethink. The urge to spend money can be overwhelming at times, especially for those who are in debt. Take a look at the tips below to start saving money today.
Pack lunch at least three times a week
Eating out every day can burn a huge hole in your pocket over time. If you’re a working professional and stay at your workplace for long hours, eating out can become the only option for getting through the day. Try and cut down on lunch costs every month by packing lunch for yourself at least three times a week. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It might be a difficult task or feel embarrassing if buying lunch is common among your colleagues. However, if you are looking to save money, balancing between eating out and taking lunch to work is important.
Use shopping lists
Those who go shopping with a list in hand are less likely to overspend on things they don’t need. Lists are a great way to budget your shopping by mentally sorting out what you need and what you don’t. Whether it’s groceries, clothes, or other items, always have a list with you when you go out. Impulse buying is unhealthy in more than one way, and the hard fact is that it can also be very hard to resist. Cut down on the extra shopping by spelling it out for yourself before you get to the store.
Buy groceries in bulk
Almost every wholesale grocery store has discounts on bulk shopping of groceries. Make use of it. Non-perishable essentials such as soaps, shampoos, toilet paper, cereals etc. usually don’t have expiration dates, or if they do, they’re not usually very urgent. Buying these items in bulk saves on frequent trips to the grocery store, and it also saves money. Buying bigger bottles, or cans instead of going for the regular sizes also helps. Take advantage of sales and remember to always stick to your grocery list even when buying in bulk, otherwise you might end up going overboard.
Pay bills and debts on time
A lot of us might have experienced paying late fines and fees on credit card bills, phone bills or other debts because we didn’t pay our bills on time. This is a very basic task for those who pay for their bills themselves. Start organizing your bill pay cycle and if possible, put them on automatic payments if you tend to forget. Almost every kind of bill can be automated these days, so you don’t have to worry about late fees. If you prefer doing it manually, then make sure you put reminders in place for yourself. Late fines are a complete waste of your money.
Keep a minimum bank balance
The practice of maintaining a minimum bank balance keeps an emergency stash handy and helps you get in the habit of saving. Impulsive spending can be controlled when you know that you cannot spend above a certain amount and that if you do, you might have to pay additional bank charges. With this provision, you also are saving something every month to maintain that minimum level.
Cook at home
Cooking your meals at home not only saves money but teaches you a few handy skills. If you’re in a relationship and your partner is the one who usually cooks, then start helping him/her out and learn to cook meals on your own too. Eating in saves a lot of money–just think about how much you usually spend when you eat out and how much you would save in a year if you ate at home instead. Eat a good, filling breakfast before you leave for work which will prevent pre-lunch snacking and remember to brown bag your lunch. Similarly, have a plan for dinner ready beforehand to avoid making thoughtless purchases while you are hungry.
Borrow books, DVDs and get memberships
Library memberships and the benefits they can offer often go unnoticed in a bid to buy and collect books, DVDs or magazines. All of us have at some point bought an expensive book instead of looking for a cheaper or second-hand alternative, or bought a DVD collection or picked up a magazine issue every month. If you do these things regularly, you might want to stop and rethink your expenditures. For books, start looking at second-hand alternatives or library memberships which enable you to borrow two or more books in one go and also help you cut down on buying every book you want to read. There are also plenty of movie rental services around which offer discounts on DVD rentals. Magazines and other periodicals usually end up in our waste bins over time anyway, so look for libraries that offer periodicals. If you’re keen to own magazines, go for the year long memberships which bring down the costs.
Use public transportation
Just think about the money you spend on fuel every month. If spending on fuel crosses your monthly expenditure budget, then try balancing it out by using public transport a few days a week. If your workplace if far from home, using public transportation can be not only cost-efficient but time-efficient as well–why sit in traffic when you could cruise over or under it on the train? You can use your personal vehicle for traveling with family on the weekends or long road trips. Try carpooling with friends when traveling to work as well; it’s another great way to cut down travel costs for all of you.
Conserve electricity and water
At home, make it a point to switch off fans and lights, and get leaking taps repaired right away. These resources come at a price, and must be used intelligently. And you’d be surprised to know how much you can end up spending on leaky taps and excessive electricity consumption. The idea of saving electricity and water is not only beneficial for you financially, it also protects the environment. Try installing energy-saving devices at home, or CFL bulbs that use less power, and unplugging appliances not in use. Try taking a baths instead showers to avoid the extra water consumption.
Curb brand shopping
Brand shopping takes up a lot of money because established brands price their goods higher than in-store or local brands. For every high-brow brand item out there, there is a ‘generic’ option that is more affordable and is either exactly or almost exactly the same. Generic shopping can be hard if you’ve shopped a certain brand for a long time, but it can also save you a ridiculous amount of money. Look for cheaper alternatives to your everyday items and try buying clothes and furniture second-hand or vintage instead of buying the latest styles and fashions from big name brands at top dollar prices.