In 2008, I lost my job under some of the worst circumstances. Not only was the US in the middle of an economic recession, but I was also three months pregnant with my first child. What I was lacking in income I was forced to make up for in creativity.
By making a few changes to my spending habits and saying goodbye to a few unnecessary expenses, I was able to pay my bills and even put aside a few dollars for a rainy day.
Here are some easy ways to save money even when finances are tight.
Have fun for free.
Not having a lot of disposable income doesn’t have to mean you can’t have fun. You can still enjoy museums, galleries, and music in your city.
Keep track of the free and “pay as you wish” days at your favourite local cultural institutions. A quick online search can give you access to all of the free entertainment options in your area.
Keep the change.
Dig deep into your pockets and between the seats of your car to collect those random coins. And, start emptying the coins you find in your wallet at the end of the day into a jar.
The money you save can be used for a vacation, holiday gifts, or an emergency fund.
Invest in a budgeting app.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of your finances, budgeting apps are a great way to keep all of your financial transactions in one convenient place – your phone.
Apps like Mint and PocketGuard are free to use and they allow you to link accounts and credit cards in order to keep track of your spending and help you to stick to a budget. They will even send you alerts when you’ve spent too much.
Cook at home more often and embrace leftovers.
There’s nothing wrong with ordering the occasional takeout for dinner or splurging on a dine-in lunch, but doing so on a daily basis can add up. For example, CNBC calculated that spending an average of $US10 on lunch every weekday can cost you $US2,500 per year.
If money is tight, try to cook dinner at home. You can enjoy the leftovers as lunch for the next day and basically get two meals from one.
Look for happy hour deals and lunch specials at restaurants.
When you do go out to eat, you can save money by taking advantage of lunch or happy hour specials at your favourite restaurants. Going out just a little earlier can make your bill a lot less expensive.
Shop around for discounts on groceries.
Checking to see which stores have the best prices can help you to save money when shopping for groceries. It can also be helpful to take advantage of in-store deals and coupons.
Many stores have apps you can download for convenient access to coupons and rebates that can be scanned directly from your smartphone.
Try to cut down on visits to the dry cleaner.
Cut down on your laundry budget by reading the labels on clothing when you shop. Try to avoid purchasing pieces that can only be dry cleaned, even if they are on sale.
Caring for your own clothing at home can help you to save money in the long run.
Learn how to repair the clothing you have.
Learn simple quick-fixes like how to re-attach a button or fix a torn seam. Being able to repair the clothes you already have could save you from buying replacement pieces.
You can also try new ways to style clothing you own but don’t wear often in order to maximise your wardrobe and reduce your desire to buy new clothes.
Workout from home instead of paying for a gym membership.
Permanently ending or temporarily freezing your gym membership can save you money. From yoga to HIIT, you can find an endless amount of fitness apps and workout videos online that you can use to put together your own fitness plan.
Consider cancelling streaming and cable subscriptions.
According to NerdWallet, people spend an average of $US103 per month on cable television subscriptions. So if your cable bill is a bit too expensive for your current situation, try crunching the numbers to see where you can cut services and save money. In some cases, you can cut premium channels or haggle for a better deal.
You may also want to consider cancelling streaming service subscriptions that you don’t use often. Or you can try to share an account and split the cost with a friend or family member who uses the same service.
Sell some belongings you no longer need.
Although you may not be saving money, you could cancel out the costs of another expense by selling pieces you’ll never wear again. Use clothes-selling apps or consignment shops to sell some of your gently used clothing that no longer fits or just isn’t your style anymore.
You can also sell electronics, appliances, and other pre-owned items you no longer need online or by having a yard sale.
Plan your purchases based on the cheapest time to buy.
Although it’s not always possible to map your purchases around certain times of year, knowing the months when items are cheapest can help you to save.
According to Money, certain months have better deals on clothing, appliances, and other items than others.
For example, you can typically get a better deal if you buy a television in January or purchase running shoes in March.
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