What if there were simple and practical ways to save money and get on a path to financial freedom? This list paves the way, and its pretty genius.
1. Wave goodbye to cable
Did you know, that on average, American homes receive 189 TV channels, but only consistently tune in to 17? Don’t believe it? Check out this Nielsen report here.
Realistically, no one has that much time for 100+ channels, let alone 25. Save up some coins and instead opt for streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. According to this piece from Fortune, cable bills average $103 per month. Compare that to $9.99 per month for Netflix.
2. Shop around for more affordable cellphone plans
Reviewing your phone plan periodically is not a bad idea. Most plans are overpriced and the services are underutilized.
At one point, I personally was paying close to $90 per month because I accepted an offer for a “free” tablet when I purchased my phone (totally cringeworthy looking back!) – thankfully, I have since cut back significantly.
I’m totally digging this plan from Republic wireless which costs $15 per month for unlimited talk and text.
3. Meal prep for the week
Ever have a week where you just don’t want to cook? I’ve had my fair share of days where I am sitting at home really hungry and debating on whether or not I should thaw some chicken. As I ponder through the steps of banging out a whole meal, my desire to cook quickly evaporates to zero – meanwhile, I’m starving. What better option is there at that point than Seamless? I mean, really?
Except, by the time you’re done with a Seamless order and you’ve been forced into buying an appetizer that you didn’t want all in the name of meeting the minimum order amount, the adding tax and tip, you could be overspending.
4. Get creative with gift giving
I really enjoy giving gifts because it’s a way to honor someone on their special occasion. Why not take the opportunity to go up a notch and make a personalized gift for the person? One of my favorite gifts to give someone was a personalized photo album. It cost less than $10 to make and I printed photos off the person’s social media. Lets just say I had to pull out my Kleenex because they loved it so much! It was fun, personal and unique because who has touched an actual photo in the past decade?!
5. Plan big purchases at least a month in advance
Have you ever just been so happy to receive a standard marketing email from Ikea? I know I was when I received this from them – a one-day exclusive sale on a dresser a month after I had moved into a new apartment – the heavens had seriously opened!
Big ticket purchases such as furniture can be real money drainers. By contemplating well in advance items you’ll need for your home, you can earn real savings. Consider signing up with specific target stores for big purchases, so you can get first dibs on exclusive offers.
Warning: Deals like these do not last! On the day of, lace-up your best sneakers and run to the store.
I was first in line for this deal and learnt that all dressers they had in stock sold out within the first 15 mins of the store opening that day!
6. Stay clear of inner aisles at the grocery store
Ever notice that your main ingredients for cooking meals such as your eggs, vegetables, milk, meat, are found lined up against the perimeter of the store? When it comes to preparing meals, you don’t usually need much more than these.
The key is to stay away from those middle aisles, otherwise you’ll walk out with that bag of chips that you had zero intentions to buy.
7. Sell your used items online
One of the quickest ways to earn cash is to scour your home and see what items have been sitting unused for months. There are several places to sell used goods – from consignment stores which focus on goods in a specific category to numerous online sources.
Online sources include Craigslist, where you can find a whole market of people in your area looking for a good deal. Being as detailed as possible in posts on the site together with including really clear pictures is extremely helpful. Remember to always prioritize safety when selling through this and similar platforms.
Another option is Decluttr which I am yet to try myself. The site offers a seemingly seamless selling experience. You can sell games, books, CDs, DVDs, cellphones and more. Shipping to them is free and they offer next day payment (payment the day after your items arrive at their location).
8. Switch to generic brands
It is no secret that generic brands and brand name items contain the exact same ingredients. So why do we reflexively reach for the brand name items? Sometimes we just fall for the marketing of large brands. The best way not to fall for this trap is to read the labels. You’ll find that the active ingredients and dosage instructions are exactly the same!
9. Cancel your gym membership
This by no means is for everyone but if you have a dormant gym membership that you’re holding onto all in the name of “starting tomorrow” do yourself a favor and cancel the membership. Membership fees can be pretty hefty with some premium gyms charging north of $200 a month.
The gym can be a wonderful experience, but there are many alternatives that can get you equally great results and offer you more freedom than waiting in line for a machine during peak hours. Home work outs are great and purchasing your own equipment can be much cheaper than forking out money for membership.
Arguably better is the chance to workout outside – its free!
10. If you do have a gym membership, sign up for gym reimbursement
Health insurance plans offer some great perks that can go unclaimed. One of these is fitness reimbursement. If you do have a gym membership, definitely be sure to check with your health insurance policy if they offer a reimbursement program.
Last year I managed to get back a $200 check from my health insurer for visiting my gym 50 times within a 6-month window.
11. Scour sources for used goods first
Buying second hand goods can go a long way with certain purchases especially designer items. While shopping for clothes might not always be ideal, it is definitely worthwhile to thrift for items across categories such as designer purses and wallets, books and textbooks, jewelry, furniture, kitchenware or workout equipment.
12. Get reimbursed for work travel
If you travel for work, consider putting all your travel related charges on your personal credit card and then get reimbursed by your company. In this way, you build your credit and benefit from additional points earned. Cautionary note – only do this if you’re not a big spender! Credit cards can be tricky!
13. Install the Honey extension in your web browser
This one is a personal favorite of mine. For anyone who loves shopping on Amazon, be sure to add the Honey extension to your Chrome browser. Honey searches online for coupons and automatically adds them to your cart resulting in huge savings. Additionally, you can add items to a “drop list” and get email notifications as soon as the item you are looking to purchase is discounted.
14. Go meatless once or twice a week
Going meatless once a week produces a host of benefits, not only for your wallet but also your waist. Cutting out meat and replacing it with more beans, vegetables or grains can really help to boost savings.
Additionally, health benefits from reducing meat consumption have been noted including smaller waistline, and the reduction of incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease or stroke.
15. Embark on the weekly savings challenge
I love this challenge. Each week of the year, you are required to set aside money in savings (in a jar) or better yet, a savings account. During week 1, you put away $1. Week 2 – $2, Week 3 – $3, and so on and so forth. By the end of the year, in week 52, the cumulative effect of this would be $1,378 in savings! Easy and a great way to create your emergency fund or save for a trip!
16. Budget using the envelope system
If you’ve been struggling with budgeting, consider using the envelope system, a simple, cash only money management system. This method entails storing cash for certain categories in your budget in envelopes and strictly using money in that envelope for related expenses that month.
For example, if you spend $400 on groceries per month, you would allocate $400 into a “groceries” envelope and only use that as your source for purchasing food for the month. A more detailed explanation from financial expert Dave Ramsey can be found here.
17. Prepare a grocery shopping list before you go there
Going grocery shopping with no game plan in mind can be a real formula for wasting money. It becomes so much easier to impulse purchase items you don’t need and you can easily forget the items you walked in fully intending to buy! With a grocery list in hand, it is so much easier to plan meals in advance and to eat healthy foods!
18. Check your grocery store’s discount flyer and prepare meals accordingly
Most grocery stores will put out a weekly flyer showing discounts they are having on select items that week. Flyers can often be found online or you ask for one in store. Getting a flyer ahead of time is great as it helps you plan your meals in advance. If you meal prep, this will give you an opportunity to plan your meals around major food items featured in the flyer for that week.
19. Use the 30-day rule
When deliberating over a purchase, especially for nice-to-have / splurge items, implement the 30 day rule which is a fantastic way to curb impulse purchases. As advised here by Get Rich Slowly, when you see an item that you fall in love with and want to purchase, note it and spend about 30 days thinking about whether you really want the item. A lot of the time you’ll find that the urge falls away and what felt like a “must have” becomes undesirable.
20. Kick bad habits to the curb
It’s a new year and arguably a great time to get rid of costly habits such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol or soda. Not only will your wallet thank you, your body will appreciate the love as well.
21. Do your own matching gift to yourself
I came across this on the Internet and it’s a fantastic saving tip. Each time you spend money on a splurge item, save an equivalent dollar value of the item. So if you spend $50 on a pair of shoes you’ve been dying to have, also put away $50 preferably into an account you don’t have regular access to such as your brokerage account.
22. Check out your farmers market towards the end of the day
Farmers’ markets are always great as a source of fresh produce. It is often best to go to one at the very end of the day when sellers need to offload their produce and they offer steep discounts.
23. Buy holiday items a week after the actual holiday has passed
Steep discounts are typically offered for holiday items once the holiday is over. For items such as Christmas lights and gift wrap, get these items steeply discounted a year in advance.
24. DIY pricier items as much as you can
With sources such as Pinterest, it is so easy to save hundreds of dollars via DIY projects. I recently saved a ton of money making a DIY rug using carpet samples that I paid $2.50 for each. This came to $15 for a custom rug that I absolutely love.
25. Find restaurants that let your kids eat for free
Eating out with the kids can be a fun time for the entire family, but kids don’t always pick up on the cue that its time to eat and you could be left staring at their food filled plates and a hefty bill to go with it. A few restaurants offer great workarounds such as free meals for kids, or steep discounts.
Kids Eat Free is a great app for scouring through restaurants in your area. Additionally, you can check with your local chains such as TGI Fridays, Denny’s and Ruby Tuesday ahead of time as they also offer great deals.
Got any additional tips? Leave a comment below!