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For some people, saving money does not come easy. You want to save more, but you end up splurging on seemingly little things that all add up in a big way at the end of each month.
To become a true penny pincher and mega saver, you have to really commit to making certain changes in your life. Money saving starts with the right mentality, continual effort and a drive to save.
You may have short term or long term saving goals, but trust me when I say that once you start seeing your savings account grow, you won’t have to overthink the process and saving money will be as easy as 1,2,3.
Below you will find 12 lifestyle hacks that will jumpstart your journey to becoming a money saving aficionado.
1. Choose to Do More With Less
The first step in saving more money is making a list of your expenses. A list will show you where your money is going and where you can reasonably cut down on your spending habits.
For a lot of people this is a big lifestyle change as it may mean giving up a lot of the “fun” things in your life.
Your more extravagant expenses may involve going out to restaurants or to the movies. Or you could be that person that spends the most around the holidays when a flash sale is happening in every store possible.
I’m not saying you have to give up these things completely, but choose to limit the frequency of these costs. If you could challenge yourself to commit to just three months of doing with less, you would be surprised by how much you save.
This could be “less” of anything in your life. Less eating out, less shopping, less tv watching (you’ll save your time for better pursuits), or less bar hopping. Everyone can benefit from a little “less” in there life in order to save more.
2. Go Zero-Waste
Zero-waste is the idea that you quite literally minimize all the waste in your life.
This mainly includes trash and packaging waste. By choosing to embrace a zero-waste lifestyle you will automatically start saving more because you will have to do with a lot less (touching back on tip number one).
Living zero-waste means giving up that box of cereal you love to buy because although the cardboard box can be recycled, the plastic bag around the cereal cannot.
A zero-waste alternative would be to grab a container of oatmeal instead (not the kind in the individual packets). The oatmeal will last longer than the cereal and you’ll be able to recycle the cardboard tube when you are done.
Zero-waste is really an amazing way to save money. For instance a 12 pack of paper towels will cost you around $14, but a zero waste option would be to buy a 7 pack of flour sack dish towels for nearly the same price.
What’s the difference? You only need to buy the towels once and can use them again and again by simply throwing them in the wash with your regular laundry.
The towels will last almost forever, or at least a lot longer than that pack of paper towels and you can’t deny the money saved. An even better way to save would be to take a few old t-shirts, cut them up and use them as paper towel replacements.
Adopting a zero waste lifestyle can help you save in all areas of your home, from the kitchen to the bathroom. You can save big with little swaps such as tissues for real hankies (or you can use cloth wipes such as these).
Or swap out that case of plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle instead that you can just fill from the tap.
For a real in depth view of a zero-waste lifestyle and the ways it can save you money, check out the zero waste guru Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home (save money by borrowing the book from your local library). She also has a website under the same name.
Bea initially set out to reduce the amount of trash her family produced but she discovered that the lifestyle change also saved her a lot of money as well.
3. Thrift Shop
Macklemore not only gave you a really catchy song but he was also giving you a big tip. Thrift shopping is a savers best friend.
If you’re on a budget but your kid needs a new pair of shoes, check out your local thrift store. If you have a job interview and can’t afford a fancy tie (because no job right); go to the thrift store.You can find a Calvin Klein tie in amazing condition for only $3.
This tip is going to be hard for many people because we are all department store or online shoppers. But think of all the money you may have wasted at the mall or even worse, at the frequent use of apps such as Amazon, Target, or DSW.
How many times have you walked into Target for one thing and come out with ten? These stores are meant to lure you into buying stuff. They get you with their flashy marketing and sales prices, making you think you want more than you need.
Step away from the department store and head to your local thrift stores instead. Thrifting is a great way to save money and score some really cool items that would be triple the price at a department store.
Now before you look down on thrift stores, not all the items there are junk. There are higher end thrift stores and consignment shops that will carry quality items. Plus, those thrift stores also have seasonal discounts, making it even easier for you to save.
4. Shop Seasonally
Shopping seasonally can be applied to two categories: food and clothes. When you shop seasonally you are essentially shopping with healthier and cheaper options.
When it comes to food, particularly produce, shopping seasonally will ensure that you aren’t paying higher prices for the food you enjoy.
That means that during the summer enjoy your strawberries and grapes, but let them go in the winter. In the winter, enjoy your acorn squash and pumpkins, but ignore the blueberries and blackberries.
When fruit and produce are out of season they become harder to produce and the effort to keep them available to the masses means that their price goes up. If you must eat berries, try buying them frozen in the winter. You’ll get a fresher fruit and more of them for less.
The same trick applies to shopping for clothes but in a very specific way. When summer rolls around, your first inclination is to go out shopping for swimsuits and shorts. Change this habit and choose to shop for your summer wear in the winter instead.
Going back to thrift stores mentioned above, summer clothes will be mega discounted over the winter. This is the perfect time to stock up on pieces you know you may be needing or wanting when summer rolls around.
The same applies in the reverse. During the summer, shop for your winter gear. Coats especially can get expensive when you wait to buy them in October and November.
No one expects you to buy a wool coat in June so that is the perfect time to snag one for half the price.
With this hack you’ll want to stay vigilant and try to anticipate what you may need from season to season. Since you’ll essentially be planning this shopping in advance, you’ll also minimize buying items to excess.
Plus, you will have time to set aside money specifically for these planned expenditures so that you are not overwhelmed and over budget when you leave the store.
5. Shop In Bulk…Carefully
You have probably been told the exact opposite but shopping in bulk is not always a good way to save money. Bulk shopping is a bit of a gray area when it comes to saving money.
Sometimes the phrase the more you buy the more you save is a total gimmick. You can in fact spend more on items that come in a quantity you probably don’t need.
Unless you have a very large family, giving in to the temptation to shop in bulk is not saving you any extra money at the end of the day.
With bulk shopping you have to be careful not to get carried away by the signs urging you to save more. That crate of hand sanitizer may look like a steal but if you don’t even use hand sanitizer you don’t need to buy it.
The same goes for shopping at department stores.
When a sign says buy more of anything in order to save, take a minute to question that sign. How can you possibly have saved money on a shirt, when you only needed one of them, when the sign tells you to buy two or even three to save.
Before you decide to join your local Sam’s Club or Costco, tag along with a friend who is already a member so that you can see the kind of pricing you’ll get for your favorite items.
If you are positive you’ll be saving more on that favorite box of cereal or all the potato chips your kids love to eat, then a membership might be just the thing you need to kick off some major savings.
Also, bulk shopping doesn’t just apply to those warehouses. Your local grocery store has a bulk section too and you can actually save a lot on some of your favorite items.
Your bulk section likely carries some of your favorite snacks from peanuts to banana chips; you may discover that snagging a pound of your favorites from the bulk section will save you more than buying the half pound of something prepackaged.
To test how much you can save by shopping in the bulk section will require comparing a few grocery store receipts to determine if you really are saving more.
In most cases, you’re most definitely saving money and as an added bonus reducing your carbon footprint as that’s less packaging you have to throw away (going back to tip number 2).
6. Start Using Coupons
How many times have you received that coupon book in the mail and immediately threw it out? Stop doing this as those things are full of amazing deals from companies dying for you to give them a chance at a steal.
They have a coupon for everything you need or may need in the future. Don’t underestimate the power of a good coupon. This is especially perfect for people who like to go out often.
You can often find coupons that offer a buy one get one entrée option or a free popcorn with your movie ticket purchase.
But, similar to buying in bulk I would advise you to be careful when it comes to using coupons. You may feel justified in purchasing something you weren’t planning on simply because you saved. Set aside only the coupons you know you’ll really benefit from.
7. Sign Up With Your Local Grocery Stores
This one may seem like a given but you save more when you sign up for a rewards card at your grocery store.
This card not only allows you save on the weekly in-store sales but they also offer points as well that can either be redeemed for money off at an affiliated gas station or even better, take a few dollars off your final grocery bill.
Talk about double the savings! Plus, you don’t have to focus specifically on one store. If you shop around at varying stores, sign up with all of them and keep the cards in your car or on your key ring for easy access.
An added bonus of signing up with a few grocery chains is that later they will send you coupons in the mail. As a caveat, once you sign up they will track your shopping habits and data.
There is no real harm in this and a cool perk will be the coupons you’ll receive in the mail for all your favorite items.
8. Stop Shopping Online
Shopping online is so ridiculously easy these days. You don’t even need to get up and dressed in the morning as your phone is basically one big shopping mall at your disposal.
The easiest way to curb your online shopping is to first hit the unsubscribe button. You may have bought one pair of shoes from DSW, but now the flash sale emails won’t stop flooding your inbox.
Resist the temptation to buy needlessly by unsubscribing to these emails immediately. You will also want to resist the temptation to download the nifty app download button that will pop up if you do click the sale link.
With less access, your online shopping excursions will lessen.
By not seeing those daily emails you won’t be reminded of any sales that may be happening. The second thing to do is to force yourself to physically get up and go to the store. Chances are you’ll hesitate a lot more to get up, dressed and in the car for something you don’t really need.
If you really want to go hardcore in curbing your online spending, go through your phone and delete every app that lets you do this…and yes that does include your Amazon app.
If you do find yourself shopping online, make sure to opt out of the promotional emails when you’re at check out (this will be the tiny fine print they’ve already checked on for you). This will prevent those pesky emails from swaying you to the shopping dark side.
Also, in reference to tip number 3, you can thrift shop online! If you must shop online, you might as well shop for some thrifted goods. Goodwill is now accessible via the web so you can look for key items at a cheap price all without leaving your home.
9. Give Up Coffee
I’m kidding, you definitely do not need to give up coffee in order to save money but you do need to give up your mocha-frappa-mumbo-jumbo.
Those coffee houses are literally sucking the money out of your wallet and it’s easy to discredit how much you are actually spending when it’s only $4 here or there. That all adds up.
Back when I frequently drank the above mocha beverage, I was stunned by how much money I was wasting on coffee. When you stop picking up the daily beverage you will see so much savings.
The average specialty drink costs around $4, which comes out to $20 a week spent at your favorite coffee shop. That’s over $1000 spent a year on coffee! By giving all that up, you’ll have an extra $1K in your bank account at the end of the year.
You can put that money saved toward a nicer coffee maker and some fancy syrups and start making your own specialty drinks right at home. You don’t need to give up your morning brew just to save a few bucks.
If you feel like this tip doesn’t apply to you because you only drink black coffee then you would be wrong. It is far cheaper to buy a 12oz bag of coffee and make a cup at home then it is to buy a 16oz coffee at a shop.
And bagged coffee is a cheaper option then the little single serve cups.
Making your own cup-o-joe won’t be as convenient as running into Starbucks on your drive to work (especially with those nifty drive-thrus) but the wait time will be a lot less, the drink delicious and the money saved just as sweet.
10. Give Up Your Gym Membership
Going to the gym is a luxury many of us cannot afford. The average gym membership can cost anywhere from $20-50 a month and that’s without the inclusion of hidden annual fees.
In theory going to the gym sounds like a good idea. It keeps you healthy and in shape. But often people are paying for a gym membership but have little time to make it to the gym due to their job/life hustle.
The good news is that when you give up your gym membership today, you can have a free personal trainer tomorrow. Sound crazy? Check out YouTube! There are tons…and I do mean a lot, of videos out there delivering a stellar exercise routine right to your computer screen.
There is something for the ladies and the fellas, from toning and fat burning, to building lean muscle. You can browse the content and discover that perfect YouTube channel just for you.
Then you’ll be able to subscribe to that account and access workouts at your convenience without having to pay a thing.
If you need a good place to start, check out this power couple’s free workout videos or try there 5 day workout challenge here. They have over 500 free videos for you to choose from and require very little equipment besides dumbbells. You can cancel that gym membership now.
11. Do It Yourself When Possible
Chances are there are several items that you buy monthly or bimonthly that you could probably be making for a lot less. Below are just a few do-it-yourself items that actually do save you money in the long run.
A value-sized box of baking shouldn’t cost more than $11 and quality coconut oil will retail you about $20 (but lasts forever as a little goes a long way) and decent essential oil will cost around $8.
You may initially think you’re spending more than the average $1-8 on a 6oz tube of toothpaste, but the ingredients above will allow you to make a batch of toothpaste over and over and will last you a lot longer than the toothpaste from the store (think a year or even two).
Use the box of baking soda mentioned above and mix it with a bit of water and boom, you have an instant cleaner for your sink, toilet and bathtub. Simply make a semi-thick paste and scrub as usual.
Insert that jar of coconut oil here. You can use that same jar for removing make-up, as a shaving cream, as a body lotion, as a hair conditioner and even as a lip gloss. You can even throw it in your coffee in place of creamer for some added yumminess.
This one is tricky and not everyone may be down for it, but baking soda, coconut oil and an essential oil work as a deodorant too! Start with an even mixture of coconut oil to baking soda and adjust accordingly to your needs.
You just need a little dab for clean smelling pits.
12. Cook More
Meal planning is a sure-fire way to save money. Not only will you eat out less, you’ll also spend less at the grocery store as you’ll go shopping with a list of only the essentials that you need for the week.
In my house we thrive on leftovers and plan our grocery trips around the number of meals we plan on making in a week. The next step is to shop accordingly and bring along any coupons set aside for that particular outing.
Pre-planning meals will prevent your fridge from being overrun by items going bad faster than you can eat them. Your grocery list will prevent this from happening as you will know exactly what is in your fridge from week to week.
Cooking for yourself or your family doesn’t have to mean shopping organic either. We all know it is generally cheaper to not shop the organic produce. Simply wash your fruits and vegetables well and you will be fine.
The same goes for the more bulk items like rice and bread. Go for the items that meet your budget and your quality expectations. If you have a coupon that lets you splurge on an organic item, use it if it will be cheaper than the generic version.
While cooking your food is the healthier option, in general getting your meals from the grocery store will cost you a lot less than eating out for every lunch and dinner. Even if you’re relying on Lean Cuisines and Hungry Man.
If you are not much of a cook or do not know where to start in meal planning, head to your local library! There are several recipe books available for the newbie cooks to the professionals that will help you get more confident in the kitchen.
Start Making Changes Today
Whether you choose to follow any of these tips is up to you. If you start making one or two of these lifestyle changes today, you will be on a road leading to a better version of you and a better version of your bank account. Save well my friends!