How many times in your fast, daily routine, are you giving a second thought to your purchases? How many times have you been to the supermarket to buy milk and eggs, and came out with extra purchases like that yummy ice-cream that was on discount, or two bottles of cleaning products that were on a 2-for-1 offer? Supermarkets are constantly tricking us into purchasing more, and no doubt that sometimes these discounts are very useful. However, there are times where we are just under the impression of saving, but end up purchasing products we don’t need.
Furthermore, we live in a ‘cashless’ society. So many of our purchases are made online or by credit card that we might have forgotten how dollar bills feel in our hand. We are also encouraged, especially through media and movies, that we deserve rewards for each accomplishment. After that raise, you need a new bag and a couple of cocktails to celebrate with your friends. But if we continue this lifestyle, how are we ever going to save up?
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Paying for your purchases with credit cards makes the action less tangible, and therefore more difficult to evaluate. If you don’t see it, it’s not there. We spend so much money without noticing it, just by sweeping our credit card. Experiments have shown that substantial savings can be made by paying for everything in cash. Like this, you become more aware of your spending and tend to think twice before buying something.
Limit the Money You Spend Out
Going out is a trend nowadays – going for a beer after a tough day at work, meeting friends over for a coffee, lunch meetings, concerts and the list can go on forever. I know what you are thinking – I need to have a social life and I need entertainment. However, there are budget-friendly alternatives for this. First, you can check out free events in your area. From concerts in parks, art exhibitions, to cooking festivals, every city has its underground events, where you can spend quality time for free. These types of events are usually also great for networking!
Second, eating in is the best way of avoiding spending money on overpriced meals in restaurants. Learning how to cook and plan your meals can help you save up considerable amounts of money. You can get creative, and invite your friends over for personalized dinners and a cozy atmosphere. Finally, if you have to eat out, choose your beverages carefully. Ordering water instead of soda or tea is a lot cheaper, if not free; not to mention healthy.
Find Cheaper Alternatives
In terms of other products you buy, remember the cheaper alternatives available out there. Why spend a fortune on books, when you can borrow them from the public library? And if you must own a specific one, check second hand editions, since they are a lot cheaper than new ones.
Moreover, our obsession with brands makes us pay higher prices for branded products. In many cases, the cheaper version, for example the biscuits produced by the specific supermarket you are in, is not lower quality than other products available. Give them a try before you disqualify them!
Discount shopping is one way of doing it. Check out the available stores around, and the prices they offer for similar products. There are also websites that do this for you, showing you the best deal for specific products. Don’t settle for convenience or proximity – go to a further away shop to buy a product for half its price, it will prove very useful in the long term.
A big amount of money goes every month on skin care or cleaning products. What if there were natural, cheaper alternatives? Not only your skin will be grateful, but also your wallet. To mention a few, coconut oil/olive oil can be used to hydrate the skin, remove makeup or as hair masks. The same olive oil works as a great face mask, when combined with eggs, bananas or avocado, depending on your skin type. Vinegar can be great for all-around cleaning. Mix it with lemon juice and here you go – happy cleaning!
Keep a Budget
A similar situation as the one with credit cards’ intangible transactions is not being aware of your expenses. By taking time to write down on paper what you are spending your money on and calculate it on a weekly/monthly basis, you will be able to visualize what happens with your income. This can be a strong wake up call. It is also a good tool for noticing where you are spending too much money and where you can cut off some expenses. You feel that one beer with a friend doesn’t make much of a difference? Check at the end of the month how many beers of this type you had and decide whether it’s worth it.
Earn Extra Cash
Regardless of your stage in life, there are always ways of earning some extra cash. Using your free time to make money online is a great opportunity. Be it a blog, some freelancing or online tutoring, find something you are interested in and learn how to make money out of it. There are also websites that offer paid online surveys, where you don’t need particular skills to participate. A trustworthy example is SurveyBee, where you can sign up for surveys, share your opinion and be rewarded for it. Make a research on the available opportunities and choose the one that suits you best. Be sure that the extra cash will come in handy!
No matter your earnings, saving up is always a good idea. There are many saving plans that can guide you, just find the one that works best for you. From setting away a defined amount of your salary each time you receive it, to putting aside a slowly increasing amount each week, you decide what option suits you. Even if the amount you are able to save up seems very small, in the long term it will add up to something significant.
Keep the Change
On a similar note, always keep the change. Even if those pennies seem irrelevant and would just make your wallet heavier, in the long term they will come to mean something. Why waste it if you can save it? Buy a piggy bank and collect all your change for a longer period, and you might be surprised by the results.
Limit Impulse Shopping
Call it impulse shopping or reward shopping, we have all been there. You got a raise? – Well let’s go out and celebrate. Or let’s buy a new jacket, since now you can afford it. Although it might be true, this type of behavior will just make you quickly spend that well-deserved extra money. We all need small rewards, but making a habit out of this is not beneficial in the long term. By trying to control impulse shopping, you can save up more and invest later in something meaningful. Try to be aware of what you need versus what you want and learn to prioritize.