There was once a time in my life that money seemed to disappear from my bank account as quickly as it came in. And the more income I generated, the less disposable income I had available. In fact, I often found myself scrambling to make money stretch until the next direct deposit came in.
Surprisingly, my transition to the freelance world was exactly what I needed to get my spending habits under control. The amount of income wasn’t the problem — but failing to properly account for it was.
Sound familiar? If you’re living from check to check, a few minor adjustments to your habits can help you cut costs and start working towards financial freedom.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
10 Quick Ways to Save Money
1. Pay attention to your spending patterns
As the old adage says, “It’s not about how much you make, but how you spend it.” Once you’ve come to terms with the fact that your finances aren’t in tip-top shape, closely monitor your expenditures for a month or so to get an idea of what areas need to be shaved down. What you find will probably surprise you.
2. Cut out dining on the fly
This is usually one of the biggest budget busters to plague innocent consumers. Whether it’s the result of being too tired to cook dinner for your family, or wanting to catch up with co-workers over lunch hour, dining out adds up rather quickly. Let’s say you spend $15 per day on a cup of joe and lunch. That’s $75 a week — or $300 per month.
3. Eliminate spa visits
Life can be draining, so we all need a little pampering to unwind. But if the $150 visits become a monthly routine, your wallet can easily take a beating. A wiser alternative: do-it-yourself, and only when the funds are available.
4. Start using coupons
You don’t have to go overboard and commit hours of your life to couponing. But it wouldn’t hurt to peruse the Sunday paper or visit online databases to find coupons for your favorite items . A meal planner that incorporates these items is another way to stretch your grocery money.
5. Exchange the soda and juice for water
If it’s clean in your city, tap water is the easiest and cheapest beverage available. But even bottled water beats the cost of sodas and juices. (Not to mention it’s much healthier for you!)
6. Sign up for Netflix
Before I made the switch, my cable bill was a whopping $132 per month. Now, I only spend $8.99 per month — and still can watch all my favorite shows.
7. Explore the great outdoors
Ditch the gym membership, which could easily be $19.99 or more per month, and go for a run. Not in the mood for fun in the sun? Visit YouTube for free workouts, or check out an exercise DVD from your local library.
8. Open up the windows in your home
The cooler months are right around the corner, so the interior of your home could use some fresh air. Watch your utility bills drop as the breeze rolls in!
9. Switch cell phone providers
As much as I love fancy smart phones, paying close to $100 each month wasn’t working out. So I switched to a provider that offered an all-inclusive plan for only $40.
10. Stop using the dry cleaners
Unless the tag clearly indicates that the item must be dry-cleaned, you can always air dry those delicate pieces and steam them in the comfort of your own home. I was able to acquire a decent steamer for around $25 at Walmart, and then eliminated my monthly drycleaning bill of $160.
Imagine how quickly you could boost your emergency fund or eliminate outstanding debts by implementing a few of these suggestions and taking a more disciplined approach to your variable expenses.
What money moves have you made to get your finances in order?
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