One of my favorite things to do when I have some downtime is to discover new money saving tips from across the web! And, after (let's say) 20 years of researching, I have come up with several tips - some easy, some not so easy! Some simple and some extreme - that will save you some cash!
Planning Ahead to Save
In my experience one key to success in saving your money is to simply plan ahead!
Budget - I can't stress enough how important it is to have a budget. There are resources everywhere around the web with different ways to design and implement your own. A budget allows you to tell your money where to go, instead of just watching it evaporate like a slow leak. When designing a budget, ensure that you have a realistic view of how much money you spend in each category such as:
- How much you will be spending on utilities and bills
- How much you are actually spending on things like groceries and eating out, and how much you would LIKE to be spending on those things.
- Ensure that you include your minimum payment towards debt along with the amount you will be throwing at it using the debt snowball (if you are trying to become debt free!)
If you're looking for some help designing a budget, this is a fantastic program from Dave Ramsey - Every Dollar!
Sinking funds - I am a huge, huge believer in sinking funds and I have 10 on the go currently. A sinking fund is allocating a small amount of money each month towards a future purchase. My sinking funds include a Christmas fund, hair-cuts for Amelia and I, a Summer fund (BBQ stuff) along with several others. Building this small amount of cash towards sinking funds into our budget ensures that we are never caught off guard by a future purchase, but instead are well prepared in advance without really noticing a change in our budget.
Meal planning - Sitting down and writing the upcoming week's meals along with a grocery list will save you a huge amount of money. Say goodbye to impulse buys and convenience items - if something isn't on your list then don't purchase it! Creating a meal plan also allows you to get creative when stretching a grocery budget. One week try making cost-effective meals that will be under your grocery budget for the week.
In need of a meal planner? Click here for my free printable!
Transportation - How often do you actually use your car? How many cars do you have in your family? If you're looking to save a chunk of change consider eliminating a car and taking public transportation instead.
Activities - Whether the activities be for your child or children, or for yourself, when you're budgeting and trying to save money or pay off debt a good place to slash cost can be extra activities outside the home. In my past, when I was paying off my debt, I eliminated literally everything from my budget that wasn't essential to ensure all my additional income was being incorporated into the debt payoff. This included canceling subscriptions and saying "sorry, but no" to events and activities outside my home or work. When it comes to children, I know how important activities can be, however instead of subscribing and spending money on 3 or 4 activities try decreasing them to 1 or 2!
When Extreme Situations Call For Extreme Measures
Sometimes you look up from life and notice that things are not going the way you intended them to. That a plan you had in place isn't working, that you didn't have a plan at all, there's been an emergency, a job loss etc. and you find yourself scouring the web for ideas on how to cut costs now. I've been there my friend. Below is my list of ways you can slash everything and live on just the basics until you get through this (and you will. Trust me).
Cut all non-essentials - I'm talking everything from cell phone plans to internet, cable to subscription services. If you are in need of extreme cost-cutting solutions because you're going through a rough time, you must look at cutting these non-essential items as soon as possible.
Cut your grocery budget - Dave Ramsey always says "beans and rice, beans and rice" when someone is trying to attack their debt and I totally agree with him. When you are going through an extreme situation and you need to save as much money as possible, your grocery budget can be slashed in a big way. Scale everything back to the essentials - protein, carbs, fruit and veg and start getting creative. Check out Pinterest for ideas on low-cost meals (my favorite is a kielbasa skillet which we eat all the time!). If you're going through a rough patch, it may suck to dine on beans and rice for a week, but it will save you a huge amount of money in the long run!
(Update - Check out this amazing article from Dave Ramsey entitled "Eating Healthy on a Beans and Rice Budget" for some great ideas!)
Start selling - Oh side hustles, how I love you! The #debtfreecommunity on Instagram is FULL of amazing people doing amazing side hustles and selling their items to make extra cash. When you're in a financial bind or you're getting gazelle intense to pay off your debt, turn your attention to the things in your home you no longer need. Start an EBay account (or postmark, or facebook market, or Craig's list - seriously there are so many places to sell your stuff!) and start listing. It's going to take some time to take pictures and upload, write a description and ship but think of the additional money you could be bringing in to your household.
Make more money - If you're in a tough financial situation, thinking of ideas to bring in more money may just seem more stressful to you. But I urge you to think about it. Can you take on additional shifts at work? Can you babysit for a friend for some cash? Do what you need to do to make some additional income and lessen the stress during this time.
When extreme situations happen sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Please remember there is light! There is an end to every situation. I know it's hard, but use this time to develop frugal habits, explore your talents and passions to make more money and learn your household finances inside and out. Because, when this time comes to an end, let's get you out of it with knowledge and positivity, instead of credit card debt and headaches.