No matter where you’re at in life, saving money is almost always a good thing. But let’s face it: it can be tough to follow a strict budget at a time where we’re constantly bombarded with opportunities to consume.
These 10 simple tips will help you to reduce your spending without feeling like you’re making huge sacrifices to your quality of life.
Write it down
If you don’t make any effort to track how much money you’re spending, you may be setting yourself up for a nasty shock – when you finally decide to check your balance.
Keep a simple tally of the money you spend each day in a notebook or on your phone. By writing down every purchase you make – big or small – you’ll become more conscious of your spending habits. You might even be surprised to see how much you spend each month on food or other routine purchases.
Think outside the box
Many fun activities involve spending money. However, you don’t have to shell out cash every time you want to get together with friends. Instead of going out for drinks, dinner or to a show, try a potluck or dinner in, a board game or movie night, a visit to a museum or gallery (many are free during certain periods) or a casual game of soccer, basketball or volleyball.
Walk the talk, literally
Transportation can be incredibly expensive. Sometimes it’s not possible to walk to your destination, but whenever you can make a journey on foot, do. When you need to find an alternate means of transportation, choose the bus first – it’s usually the cheapest mode of transit.
Cabs are convenient, but not cost-effective. Avoid taking a cab unless it is truly necessary.
Get creative in the kitchen
This one is so obvious that it’s easy to overlook. Buying ready-made food and drinks from restaurants, take-out joints or cafés is much less cost effective than making your own meals at home. It’s a much-touted money-saving tip because it’s true! You can save a lot each month by preparing all of your own food at home.
You can enjoy a meal out occasionally, but limit yourself to one outside food or drink purchase a week (or every other week, if you can manage it) to see just how much of a difference it can make to your wallet.
There are a few ways that you can shop smart: first, stock up on things that you use often when they go on sale.
Paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries and non-perishable food items are things you’re always going to need – so while it may feel a little odd to buy six tubes of toothpaste, it makes sense to buy extra to maximise your savings. Second, you can buy in bulk.
“Make the presents.”
Monica and Chandler from Friends may have been onto something when they decided to exchange homemade gifts for Valentine’s Day.
Whatever the occasion, making a gift is always more personal and it usually costs less than buying a finished product from a store.
When you know that you’re going to need to make a purchase soon, like an outfit for a special event or a new car, it pays to shop around.
Start looking early on so that you can compare your options and find the best price.
Think twice before you buy
Next time you’re about to buy something, ask yourself two questions:
1. “Do I really need this?”
2. “How many hours of work would it take for me to pay for this?”
(Or, if you’re not working, “What else could I use this money for?”). If you’re still on the fence, put the item down and walk out of the store so you can think more clearly – it’s much easier to be objective when you’re somewhat removed from the situation.
Know your limit, stay within it
The best way to make sure that you’re living within your budget is to have a budget. Make sure that you have a solid understanding of your sources of income and your “set” expenses (like rent, utilities, a bus pass, tuition) so that you know how much money you have leftover to cover your “flexible” expenses (things you pay for that don’t have a set cost). This way, you’ll be able to make better decisions when shopping and you’ll know where you can cut corners when needed.