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The reason I used to find it so hard to save money was that I was saving the wrong things and going about it wrong. I did not want to cut back everything I enjoyed because I thought that was the only way to save money. It took a while for me to understand that wasn’t the realistic way to save money.
For example, something you won’t see on this list: skipping your daily coffee purchase. Now, spending $5 every day on a Starbucks latte does add up to some serious cash: $1,825 a year to be exact. And yes, I know I can make your coffee at home. But those of us who buy a mocha latte every morning don’t do it just for the coffee. We do it for the social interactions, the feel, and smell of a coffee shop and the finale of a morning routine that tells us we have officially started our day. That to me is worth the $5. Maybe just not every day. Or maybe I should find a cheaper coffee shop.
Here are 35 realistic ways to cut down on spending and save money, without setting yourself up for failure. Or making yourself miserable.
- Cut the cable cord and stream. Or tell your cable company you’re going to cut services and see how quickly they offer a promotion. While you’re at it…
- Reevaluate your home wifi package. Consider using a mobile hotspot instead.
- Switch to a prepaid plan instead of a contract one. I pay $45 a month for everything unlimited on my prepaid. This saves me $900 a year on just the phone bill alone.
- Maintain your house, appliances, and car. Getting the oil changed regularly is much cheaper than replacing your engine.
- Be your own handyman. This is why YouTube videos exist.
- Buy term life insurance instead of whole. The term is a fraction of the cost and meets most insurance needs. Comparison of the two here.
- Submit your expenses immediately, you want to make sure you don’t forget any purchases
- If you rent out an office, try sharing the space with another professional. You can use a service like WeWork or Regus to rent space as well.
Credit Card Savings:
- Pay off your credit card each month. If you can’t pay all of them, try to at least pay down your high-interest cards.
- Call your credit card company and ask them to lower your rates. Tell them you are considering a balance transfer to a low-interest rate card. Trust me they want your debt, so they will work with you.
- If they don’t lower, transfer your balance to a card offering a low or 0% promotional offer.
- Buy generic when it makes sense. Often the only difference between brand and generic is the name.
- If a store has an app get it. They offer so many great coupons and discounts. I always save at least $15-$20 on my grocery trip by using their store apps.
- Sell items you don’t want. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist both provide easy opportunities to declutter and make some extra cash.
- Stop buying “sale” items just because they’re on sale. You’re not saving money by getting it on sale if you weren’t going to buy it in the first place.
- Wait for one week before purchasing anything large to prevent impulse buys.
- Don’t always buy cheap. It may seem counterintuitive, but when it comes to appliances, electronics, and items you will use for a while, don’t buy something that you will have to replace in a month
- On the other hand…consignment shop where you can. There are high-quality consignment stores everywhere, selling almost new clothing, furniture, and decor.
- Take care of your clothes. Hang up that sweater at the end of the day, it will last longer.
- Don’t buy dry clean only. I know this narrows down your options, but limit the dry cleaning to only a few necessary pieces.
- Stop yo-yo dieting. You have to constantly buy new clothing sizes.
- Make a list for Target and stick to it. I went one time for laundry detergent and came back with luggage and an iPhone. True story.
- If you’re a senior, own it. Take advantage of your age and the “senior discount.” Here are at least 100 places that will cut your costs.
- Don’t go on Amazon.com when you’re bored. The sheer selection and instant gratification of free two-day shipping are just too tempting.
- Plan out your groceries and meals for the week. Don’t browse the aisles for what looks good. It’s all good.
- You can still eat out but plan it ahead of time so it’s not an impulse buy.
- Make more when you cook and freeze it for later.
- Pack food, snacks and drinks for car and day trips. Fast food and convenience stores are expensive.
Entertainment / Lifestyle Savings:
- Go to free events. Facebook, local newsletters and town websites provide all the happenings in the area.
- Get outside – nature is free.
- Cancel the gym membership. Buy some weights and find a workout video online.
- At holidays and birthdays ask for zoo memberships, passes to the aquariums or deposits in their 529 (kid’s investment account)
- Accept your friend’s kids’ hand me downs. Onesies and sweatpants don’t need to be bought new, I learned this the wrong way by overbuying with the first kid.
- Use the library. All the time! They provide free toys, books, workspace, playdates, and entertainment.
- Swap days with your neighbor babysitting each other’s kids.
- Find a mommy’s helper instead of a nanny. A mommy’s helper can be a neighborhood teenager who will entertain your child for a few hours while you’re home.
- NEVER dry clean your kids’ clothes. If you are trying to save money, the only time this is acceptable is your special occasions.
- Submit your expenses immediately so you don’t forget the little purchases.
- If you rent out an office, try sharing the space with another professional. Or use a service like WeWork or Regus to rent space.