10 Helpful Tips to Save More Money and Live Well
Having money in savings can turn a potential financial disaster into a minor inconvenience, but saving is easier said than done. When life gets busy and bills are coming at you left and right, you can spend your entire paycheck before you know it. Don’t lose hope, though. By implementing these steps, you can make a habit of saving to prepare for the future and protect yourself and your family.
Here are 10 secrets to save more and live well:
(1) Keep a running shopping list on your phone.
Before you run out of an item, jot it down on your list so you have time to keep an eye out for a good price and don’t have to buy it at a high price simply out of desperation. Each week, add your weekly groceries to this list so you know exactly what you need. Having a purpose at the grocery store helps to keep you from impulse spending. A list on your phone is convenient, because you always have your phone with you, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting the list at home. However, if you prefer using paper, keep the list on your refrigerator where it’s easily visible so you remember it.
(2) Utilize a three-ring binder to keep restaurant and non-grocery coupons in your vehicle.
Insert clear paper protectors into the folder, one for each category of coupon. Separating the coupons in this way helps keep you organized and ensures you’re able to find the coupons you need when you need them. Keeping the binder in your car can help you save money on last-minute or spontaneous spending.
(3) Even if money is so tight it squeaks, set up auto-withdrawal or direct deposit to a savings account.
Amounts as small as $5 a week will still add up over time. Automatic methods force it to happen, so you have resources in an emergency. After a while, you’ll get used to that amount of money coming out of your account, and you won’t even miss it. About once every quarter, reevaluate your finances to see if you can bump up the amount you put into savings. By gradually increasing the amount, you’ll hardly notice it.
(4) Plan clothing purchases in advance.
First, go through your clothes (and your children’s clothes) and weed out the items that don’t fit or are torn or worn out. Take the clothing items that are still in good condition and sell them at a consignment shop or a yard sale. Add the money you make from these sales to your clothing budget, and get shopping. Make a list of clothing items that you or your children will need next season. By shopping for clothes a season or more in advance, you have time to look for good deals on what you need.
(5) Make a weekly meal plan.
Before you go grocery shopping, sit down and write out a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and add all the ingredients to your shopping list. These meals don’t have to be elaborate, but you need to write them down. Even if it’s just grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, write it down. Put the menu in a visible place in the kitchen, so you know what to prepare when. This will keep you from panicking and ordering take-out at the last minute because you’ll know exactly what’s for dinner well in advance.
(6) Don’t make quick decisions on purchases.
Any purchase you do not make on a regular basis should be carefully evaluated, regardless of price. Think over whether or not you really need the contemplated item; whether you can truly afford it; and, if yes to the first two, research prices to ensure you’re getting the absolute best deal. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on an item that you truly need, as long as you’re smart about it.
(7) Review your monthly expenses at least once a quarter.
You should be thinking about them each time you pay a bill, but this goes deeper. Analyze each bill and expense to decide if you still need it and if you can’t save more with another company. You might even be able to negotiate a lower rate with the same company, based on your loyalty and history with the company.
(8) One week out of every month, execute a pantry challenge.
A pantry challenge actually involves your pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer. Once a month, take a full week and devote it to using any close-dated items in these storage areas. Plan meals with these items, buying only ingredients absolutely necessary to complete the meals. Your family can be adventurous in trying new recipes to incorporate items, having breakfast at dinner or dinner at breakfast, choosing an eclectic approach to what makes a complete meal – and, best of all, your shopping list will be tiny that week.
9) Use the Swagbucks search engine.
In this day and age, many of us use search engines daily, and sometimes multiple times a day. So why not make those daily searches work for you? By using the Swagbucks search engine, your daily searches earn you points that you can redeem for a variety of gift cards.
10) Install savings apps on your phone.
Many coupons and rebates are going digital, and having these apps on your phone allows you to have all of your coupons and rebates in one convenient place. Some stores, like Target and Walmart, have their own exclusive apps with coupons and sales. Other apps, like Checkout 51 and Ibotta, have general rebates and coupons that work in a variety of stores. By stacking the deals from all these apps, you can save a ton on groceries, toiletries, and more.