10 simple but useful ways to save money
Need advice on how to save? These ten tips will have you racking up the extra pennies in no time.
As a woman in her early thirties who only really understood the concept of saving (and exactly how difficult it is) in the past year, my futile attempts to save even the smallest sums always filled me with a feeling of dread. However, this year, good saving habits are the only thing I tried to start the year with – and, for the most part, I succeeded. Given that I’ve been saving solidly over the past few months, here are the little things I’ve found most helpful:
1. Have a goal in mind
This is not only true when most of us just want to save a few extra pounds to avoid depleting our overdrafts, but to save in general. I learned the hard way; saving to save never works. Set an objective.
Maybe it’s to save an extra $30 for the one item you’ve been coveting in the sales; maybe you want to have a fully funded emergency fund (usually about three months salary) by the end of the year. Maybe you want to take a dream trip to Paris next Christmas. These goals are achievable and often all it takes is a few small tweaks to save big.
2. Carry on for Dryuary (even in moderation)
The average Irish adult drinks the equivalent of eight pints of beer a week, or around €40 in pub prices. Start now and you could have saved over €135 by the end of the month if you want to save especially for your first holiday of the year.
3. Raid your fridge, freezer and presses
Before you go out and do a big grocery shopping, clean out your presses, freezers, and refrigerators. These can become overdue with things you forget and never use. This is the month you should be eating all that junk. This will reduce your grocery bill and free up space.
You may even discover a new favorite weeknight meal (whether with slightly odd flavor combinations). The trick to making this a money saver is to use what you have, not buy extra ingredients in the process.
4. Start a “make your own lunch” month
Before becoming freelance, I often spent around €40 a week on eating out for lunch during office breaks. It seems like crazy money to throw away, looking back. To save those pennies when funds are usually very tight, why not go the extra mile to pack your lunch? Or, you can try batch cooking and use the excess from your evening meals for your lunch the next day. If you spend around $25 a week, you could have saved almost $100 by the end of the month.
5. Cut back on those little luxuries
Life is too short to do this forever, but if your indulgence is take-out coffee, for example, just throw it away for the next two weeks. All those cups per week add up to a considerable sum if you count the receipts at the end of the month. Do your bit for the environment at the same time by getting yourself a reusable cup and bringing your own coffee as you want every day.
6. Remove your bank cards from your online accounts
I was forced to do this after becoming Amazon’s top customer for the past few months, and similarly with iTunes “in-app purchases” on their app store – I was charged a fortune, and had completely forgot that I had spent a thing. A simple identification at your fingertips and we can practically buy anything we want.
For this reason, you might fall into the trap of shopping without thinking about what you’re buying or how much you’re spending. When you have to get up from the couch, find your card and type in the numbers, you might think twice before buying.
7. Don’t bring your bank cards with you when shopping
One piece of advice my friend told me was to take out the money he needs for the week and only use it for day-to-day essentials. Leave the cards behind and you’ll be much less tempted to buy on impulse because you’ll think more about what you’re buying when you have to physically hand over the cash.
8. Save every $5 bill you receive this month
Does anyone else crumple those $5 bills and forget about them? One tip I received was to keep small notes in a separate compartment of your purse. At the end of the month, count what you have saved and go to the bank to deposit it in your savings account. Practical, right?
9. Set up a small savings standing order
The key to successful saving, if you find you’re still struggling, is to start small. Start a standing order of just €20 to go into a savings account each week, and you’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up – plus, it’s such a small amount, you’ll barely notice it leaving. your account.
10. Make a financial diary
I did this for just a week and was shocked at how much I spent on snacks while I was out, for example. Track your spending for a week, write down every penny that leaves your purse and checking account cards. At the end of the seven days, take a look at your findings – you might be surprised at how much you lose on seemingly small purchases.
Seeing how much you’re actually spending (instead of your best estimate) is the first step to figuring out where and how to make changes that will help you save more throughout the year.