Could you use a little extra cash in your bank account? Even if life wasn’t crazy right now, I certainly wouldn’t object to being able to save more and spend less. Wouldn’t you like to have more to spend on what you want instead of just what you need?
For most of us, a new job or a hefty pay raise isn’t really in the cards right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t still free up some cash.
Here are 10 simple ways to save money starting right now.
Make a Menu
Does your meal planning consist of staring into the fridge at 5 p.m., realizing that there’s nothing there to make dinner with, and heading for the drive-through? Making a dinner menu can save you, your wallet, and your waistline from the dreaded drive-through lane. It doesn’t have to be fancy and you don’t even have to follow it exactly. But if you begin creating even five simple dinners a week, and using that menu to create your shopping list, you will buy less at the grocery store, spend less on take out, and maybe even eat healthier. Learn more about meal planning and menus here.
Brown Bag It
Start taking lunch instead of eating out. Buying lunch daily can cost upwards of $50/week per person. Bringing lunch from home can cost as little as $2/day. Even if you take a store-bought frozen quick meal for lunch you can cut that $50 to $25 or less.
Review Your Policies, Accounts & Subscriptions
When was the last time you really looked at your insurance policies, your cable bill, or even your subscriptions? If you’re like most people, you can’t remember. Now is a good time to pull them out, review them carefully, and see what you’re really paying for? Are you using all those services? Do you really need them? Maybe it’s time to look at cable alternatives or eliminating services and subscriptions you don’t need. On average, most people continue paying for subscriptions for at least six months after they stop using the service.
Have you done any comparison shopping for home or auto insurance lately? If you haven’t in the last couple of years, you are overdue for an insurance checkup. You can do it online or you can use a local independent insurance agent who can compare prices and coverages at several companies. Also, if there is anything in your policy you don’t understand, ask for an explanation. And keep asking until you do understand it and know whether or not you really need it.
Bundle Products and Services
After you’ve done your review and decided which services to keep and which to change, consider which will give you a discount or better price for bundling. Bundling is combining two or more services with the same provider. For example, many insurance companies will give you a discount if you have both your home and auto insurance with them. Some other areas you may be able to bundle are internet, cable/streaming, phone. You may also be able to bundle with some personal care services. Does your medical office offer alternative health services? Does your hair salon offer mani/pedis or other services? It’s worth looking at.
Plan Your Purchases
Impulse shopping is a total budget buster. Begin planning ahead for purchases. If you are out and see something you really want, give it a few days and see if you really need it before committing to it. Knowing that appliances and cars will break down, clothes and shoes will wear out (or the kids will grow out of them), begin setting aside money to cover these purchases instead of letting the needs catch you by surprise.
Use Preventive Maintenance
Preventive maintenance simply means taking care of things so they don’t break down. Not getting an oil change for your car might save you $30 today, but it could cost you $3000 down the road when your engine is damaged. Taking care of things in your home, paying attention to preventive maintenance recommendations for cars and appliances (both big and small) will keep them running and useful much longer, saving you potentially thousands in repair and replacement costs over their lifetime.
Choose Used Over New
I admit, I love shiny new things. But I love a bargain even more. And I had smart parents who taught me in my childhood to be a wise bargain shopper. So even today, when I need something, I’ll look at used before new. Whenever possible, used is our first consideration. Whether it’s cars, clothes, tools, or even some home items, we look to see if we can meet our needs with a used item in good condition. It may not work to buy everything used, but many times we can find things in like-new (or sometimes even new) condition for a substantial discount over new-in-the-box from a store.
Pay Down Your Debt
This may seem odd to some, but one of the best ways to save money is to pay down your debt as quickly as possible. There are many ways to do this. If you need some help getting started, one of my favorite resources has been Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Full of plain-speaking, common-sense advice, it is a do-able plan for saving money. If Dave Ramsey isn’t your style, there are plenty of other financial guides out there for you to choose from.
Start a Savings Plan
Yes. I know this one is obvious. But getting in the habit of spending less than you bring in and putting a portion aside on a regular basis into a savings account will help you save. Once you’re in the habit of saving money, you’ll find yourself wanting to spend less and be more mindful with your money.
Start a Side Hustle
If you want to increase your cash flow, consider a side hustle. If you have the self-discipline to be your own boss, your income potential can be unlimited. Think about the skills you have and how you can use them to make some money. Whether you’re an exceptional baker, a skilled handyman, or you have some other skill people will be willing to pay for, a side hustle is one of the best ways to save money now, by not only increasing your income but improving your own skills.
If you need a little help getting started or figuring out what you can do, I’d love to help. Click here to schedule a free consultation and see if you have what it takes to start a side hustle of your own.
These are just a few of the many ways you can save money now. Picking even one or two and getting started on the path to save money will spark your own ingenuity and before you know it, you’ll be coming up with even more ways to save money now.