No matter what stage that we are in life, it always seems like we get our paycheck and in no time at all, the money is gone. And there is nothing big or substantial to show for it. So, where does it go? Quite often it goes toward little things that quickly add up.
So, what can we do about that? How do we save when much of what we are buying is necessities? Or are they? When should we buy something to keep the most money still in our pocket book?
Here’s some quick ways I’ve found to save money:
- Bring lunch from home. It may not be as “good” or interesting as what they are serving at the cafeteria or local restaurant, but it’s definitely a quick way to save a good chunk of money over the course of a week, let alone month.
- Cut coupons. I know, this may seem old-fashioned to do but on a regular basis I have noticed that I have saved 10-20% off my grocery bill by doing so. And if you start bringing your lunch from home, you will be shopping a bit more so let’s keep the savings going!
- Time your purchases. There are “best times” to buy everything! Black Friday, of course, is one of the most popular such times. Great deals on almost any type of product. Other types of products have their “sale seasons” – try to buy your products during these times. The internet is a great source of information on these seasons.
- Buy Quality. This one may seem counter-intuitive because quality almost always means a higher price tag. Let’s think of the long-term game here though. If you only have to buy something once, or it lasts twice as long as the other option, in the long run you’ve saved money.
- Before you toss something out that is no longer working, think about whether it might serve another purpose. For example, old T-shirts make excellent dust rags. Empty containers make good coin collectors. Have some fun with this one and let your creativity run wild.
I find that just having a greater awareness of where my money is going is a huge help. It helps me make more informed purchasing decisions and ensures that I am putting my hard-earned money where I really want it to go.
One other strategy that I’ve found helpful is that I break down my salary to the equivalent hourly wage. Then, when I find something I want to buy, particularly a splurge item, I ask myself, is this really worth ## hours of my time at work? This sometimes has been quite effective for stopping me in my tracks.
Hopefully these ideas and exercises are helpful. Ideally they are meant to simply be some initial strategies toward getting yourself on track with managing expenses. Once you’ve figured out your new habits (if you so choose), it won’t be something that you fret about every time you take your wallet out. You will already have a good sense of what the item in front of you is truly worth to you.