We all want to save money, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes we picture ourselves scrimping and saving, and putting patches on clothes. We might even think about taking a beat up old bicycle to work instead of driving the car. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as you can save a lot of money without having to change much of your lifestyle. Most of what you need to change is just mental; you just need to look at things a little bit differently. Someone once said “if you save 50% on everything you buy, you’re making twice as much money”. If you start paying attention to what you’re spending you might even find you have a better lifestyle. So here are a few tricks and things that you can learn that will help you save a little bit more money without having to put newspaper in your shoes.
Get mentally prepared for it
First and foremost you have to get it into your head that you want to save money. You may say that you want to save money, but when you go out and spend it on something that costs way too much that you didn’t really need, it sort of defeats the purpose. You have to get it in your head that you need to save money so you can conquer those impulse buys. Spend your money wisely. You don’t have to change your lifestyle to change your outlook on money.
Write it down (for now)
Although the best advice we can give is to make a full budget, most people don’t really have the time or the energy to do that. So instead of making a full budget, just start writing things down that you purchase. Any time that you spend money, just write it down in a small notebook. It may seem like nothing, but after a while, when you look at that notebook, you will start to see things that you spent money on that you really didn’t need. You may have thought you needed them right then, but in hindsight you might realize that you didn’t really get the enjoyment out of it that you were expecting. You only have to do this for a little while, as the main purpose of it is to get your head into the money saving mentality.
Plan your shopping
Instead of going out shopping without an idea of what you’re going to buy and coming home with all sorts of different things that you didn’t expect. Make a plan instead for what you going to buy before you go. This is especially true for the supermarket. Instead of going to the supermarket hungry, go to the supermarket well fed and with a list. Look for things that are on sale, and if it’s a good sale, instead of buying 2, buy 20, as you will be using them anyway.
Coupons and sales
Although this might be a little bit more intrusive into your lifestyle, we have found this quite entertaining and fun. Playing with coupons becomes a game. There are even websites to track all the coupons from the newspapers in your area, so all you have to do is look at what you want to buy online, and it will tell you what newspaper and what section the coupons are in for what you need, going back months even. As silly as it sounds, you will be quite amazed at how much money coupons can save you.
Buy in bulk
If you can manage it buy in bulk you’ll save a considerable amount of money. Such places as Costco and other large wholesale clubs can be a definite boon. Just make sure it’s something that you know you’re going to use for quite a while. For example, if you know you’re going to use the same dish soap for the next few years, buying a case of that dish soap is going to save you a large amount of money. This is one of the secrets of the rich.
Look at your debts and your credit cards that you owe. Check the interest rates on what you’re paying. There are many credit card programs, or loan programs, that have an introductory period where you pay zero interest. Moving all of your credit cards onto one of these programs will cut your payments down considerably and allow you to pay off the credit cards faster. If you do this however, make sure you don’t run your debt up even further as you think you have more credit. Your goal is to pay off your debts and your loans as soon as possible. Then you can use that money that you are paying your credit cards with, for other things. Your credit cards should always be at zero, otherwise you’re just giving money away as interest.
Ask “this or that”
We have found a good way to understand what you’re spending is to ask yourself “this or that”. What we mean by this, is when you’re about to spend money, look at the amount and think what else you could spend it on for the same amount that might be better. One of the things we like to do, as we enjoy going to the dollar store, is ask ourselves how many items at the dollar store we could buy for the same amount. So if you’re just about to buy something for $10, which seems like nothing, remind yourself that you can go on a spending spree at the dollar store and buy 10 items. It changes how you view that $10.
You don’t have to change everything in your life to save money, just make a few small changes and it can have drastic results. Really, most people live right at the edge of their money, and end up spending everything they have every month just to squeak by. This is not the best way to live. You need to spend less of what you have, and take the extra money and put it in things that are important. Heaven forbid, you might even be able to bring your savings account up to something respectable. You don’t have to change your lifestyle to save money and live better; you just have to change how you think of money.