When You are broke, you have to make hard choices. Here are 10 things to do to save money and leave a frugal life:
10. Don’t wait to get started. The biggest mistake you can make is putting off saving money until you get a new job or a bigger paycheck. It doesn’t matter if you start small—you can begin with things as simple as keeping your change. The key is breaking the cycle of mindless spending and becoming aware of where your money is going.
9. Save up spare change. As Benjamin Franklin famously once wrote, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Spare change doesn’t look like much when you’ve only got a handful of it, and it can be a nuisance to carry around. Resist the urge to toss it in the tip jar—keep a coin bank in your living room and empty out your wallet whenever you get home. You’ll be surprised how quickly it’ll fill up! When you’re ready to redeem your jar for something more convenient, there’s probably a Coinstar at your local supermarket to convert the coins to bills.
8. Be good to the planet. Eco-friendly practices are also wallet-friendly. Even though it seems more expensive to buy a reusable water bottle or shopping bag at first, they’ll pay for themselves in a matter of weeks in terms of the money you didn’t have to spend getting a new one. Remembering to turn off lights and stopping the sink when you’re brushing your teeth cuts down the strain on the environment—and your utility bills.
7. Shop online and obtain coupons. You can get many items at a significantly discounted rate online, often in brand new condition. This is especially of clothes and jewelry, although sites like Ebay.com and Amazon.com can offer bargains that you’d never find at a department store. Even if you don’t end up purchasing online, checking prices at different stores before actually heading out can help you make comparisons and ensure that you’re getting the best bargain. What’s more, you can print coupons from sites such as Coupon Code Raja.
6. Make a list before you shop—and take it with you! Have a clear idea of what you need before you head to the store so that you can get it all efficiently, without expensive distractions. We tend to splurge on unnecessary items when we’re just browsing. Having a list is a good way to distinguish between needs—and wants. It’ll also help you cut down on the amount of unnecessary outings if you can consolidate your trips, which will help save gas money and time.
5. Find a hobby. New clothes and jewelry can be fun, but shopping out of boredom a dangerous habit to have. Instead of hitting the mall, try some more inexpensive activities like going to the library, jogging around the block, or gardening. It’ll help you feel better about yourself and prevent your credit card bills from rising. You might even find ways to make some extra cash, like babysitting or dog walking.
4. Prepare things yourself. Don’t hit the store every day for something you can easily make for yourself. For example, don’t waste money on a cup of coffee every morning—you’ll spend well over ten dollars by the end of the week. Instead, buy some ground coffee from the supermarket and make it yourself—you’ll get much more bang for your buck. In the same way, make your own lunches instead of ordering or buying—those daily trips to Chipotle can really add up.
3. Brave the cold. If you turn down the heat a few degrees in the winter and wear a few extra layers around the house, you can cut your heating bill by a huge percentage. Likewise, in the summer, try opening the windows instead of amping up the air conditioner.
2. Set goals. Create targets and timelines for yourself so that you know what you’re working up towards. Having concrete goals can also make saving money a bit more bearable—you’ll know when you have to be careful with every penny and when you have a little wiggle room.
1. Write and record. The best way to save money is to put yourself on a budget and know how you are doing. Write down your income, figure out a spending plan that works for you, and stick to it. Don’t forget to put aside some money for leisurely spending every week—it’ll keep you from giving up on your budget and also put a cap on huge splurges. If you’re really up for the challenge, keep a notebook and record every single expenditure you make, which will help you create a realistic budget. It’ll also help cut down on unnecessary spending, since you’ll either be deterred by guilt or the pain of having to write it down.