Monday, December 24, 2012

10 Easy Ways to Save

I don't know about you, but after a string of birthday and Christmas shopping, my bank account is suffering.  If you're also a student like me or simply trying to save, here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

1. Skip the coffees and meals out.  Pack your lunches, snacks and beverages.  You'll be surprised by how much you can save.  No shame in not spending!
2. Clean out your closet.  Donate the things you no longer wear, and figure out new ways to wear the things that you still like.  It's like shopping from your own closet, and you will definitely save a pretty penny.
3. Do your own grooming (besides hair cuts).  Nails, facials, spa treatments, waxing.  Do it at home.  Trust me- this is a huge wallet saver and you will probably getting a cleaner experience. You want a relaxing activity? Try a bubble bath or a walk outdoors. It's free!
4. Use only useful Coupons or Groupons! List the things you need before looking for coupons and discounted vouchers like groupons.  Sometimes those "deals" can be so attractive that we just swept up into the advertised sales and buy things we don't need!
5. Put away your savings as soon as you get your paycheck.  So if you get paid $1000 per paycheck cycle and you want to save 40%, stow away that $400 into a separate account before paying your bills or going shopping.  Just pretend you're only making the leftover $600!
6. Car pool.  Gas is about $4/gallon these days.  Even if you can't carpool every day to work and/or school, try to car pool for gym trips or grocery hauls.  Not only is it more fun to go with a buddy but it saves you a few bucks!
7. Always have a budget.  The fiscally responsible thing to do is always pay your bills on time in full and only spend what you have, but the reality is - most of us can't live that way.  We have mortgages, rents, health care bills, school loans, etc., and whatever it may be, we have to pay in installments.  That's OK.  Just have a plan (ideally to pay off your debt(s) in a reasonable amount of time) and keep to your budget.
8. Set aside "play money."  We all need it.  Whether it's an expensive meal out with girlfriends, or a dress you've had your eye on, you need to give yourself a little wiggle room.  We're not robots, and we need a little fun money.  As long as you have a little wiggle room, you're a lot less likely to go crazy off budget.  It's kind of like a diet.  If you allow yourself a little indulgence regularly, you're less likely to binge after 5 days of strict dieting.
9. Reassess your monthlies.  Examine your health, car& home insurance plans, gym membership rates, mortgage rates, credit card rates, heating/AC bills, etc.  Not only should you compare your plans to other options, but you should also figure out how you can improve your bills.  Can you lower the temperature setting in your house?  Can you do without the expensive gym membership you never use?
10. Focus on what you have, not on what you don't.  Just like with your closet, if you look at everything you have, you're always going to want more.  Use everything you have fully, and then try to get only the things you absolutely need. Like I said before, there is no shame in not spending. There is only shame in overspending!

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