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10 Unexpected Ways to Save Money

10 Unexpected Ways to Save Money

Every penny helps. A little savings here, a little savings there, and you could be richer than you think. Here are some money-saving tips that might help you to minimize your spending and avoid being in the red. Some of these tips will also benefit your health — so you can save money AND your life!

1. Buy fresh groceries

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    Having ample amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits will greatly improve your body in various ways. Studies have shown that consuming seven portions of vegetables and fruits a day is more effective at preventing diseases than the current five-a-day recommendation. Maintaining a healthy diet reduces the possibility of needing to visit the doctor, hence less medical spending. An apple a day still keeps the doctor away.

    2. Make your own food and snacks

    Restaurant food is generally expensive. Many restaurants serve small portions for the same price of a full meal. When you cook for yourself, you can control the portions, and you know exactly what is on your plate. Moreover, if you plan accordingly, you can save money and time by eating meals made from your leftovers. For example, pork loin, vegetables, and a package of rice cost under $20. From these ingredients, you can make a stir-fry dish with enough leftovers for several days. Depending on your appetite, you’d have healthy meals costing you about $5 each. You can also make a number of meals with any leftover rice. Here are some sites that offer a variety of recipes.

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    Do you snack a lot when you work? I know I do. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, ham, and cheese are good things to snack on. You can be environment-friendly and wallet-friendly by bringing in your own homemade snacks. Here are some of my favourite easy-to-prepare office snack recipes. Constantly buying snacks is pretty costly, so make sure you always have something to snack on when you’re out.

    3. Keep your receipts

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      The receipt you keep from buying groceries is crucial to saving money. Some grocery stores separate the food into different categories, making your receipt a handy list of your perishables. Use a magnet and stick the receipt on your fridge, then highlight the items so that you won’t forget they are sitting inside your fridge. When you use up something, make sure to cross it out. This way, you won’t waste anything – and you can really get your money’s worth!

      Keeping your receipts also lets you easily double-check your spending with your bank transactions online. This is useful for finding any unauthorized transactions on your account. Keep a box specifically for receipts so that you can find them easily when needed.

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      4. Keep a written record of the money you spent in red ink

      Keeping your receipts makes it easier for you to record your spending. When you write down the amount of money you spent in red, your brain automatically recognizes that number as a “danger” or “beware” sign, which may subconsciously help you notice how much money you have been spending. In my case, I write my spending on my calendar on the day I made a purchase. When I look back at a particularly extravagant month, I cringe from seeing all the red and the next month I tend to be particularly frugal to make up for it.

      5. Floss your teeth

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        Seeing the dentist is both costly and uncomfortable, so wouldn’t it be nice if you could minimize how often you need dental procedures? My dentist once told me that almost all cavities he has to fill are due to the patient not flossing regularly. As we eat, tiny fragments of food get stuck between our teeth, and bacteria slowly eats away at the food, causing bad breath and tooth decay. Flossing your teeth every day (or better yet, after every meal) will reduce bad breath, reduce spending on mints or gum, and reduce cavities.

        6. Turn off your power bar at night

        Ever wonder how your hydro bills could be a bit cheaper? Other than the most essential electronic items you need to keep on in your house, like the fridge, turn everything off when you go to bed. The easiest way to do this is to have your devices connected to a power bar, that way only one switch is needed to turn off several devices. Don’t underestimate how much electricity is used to keep these devices powered every single day.

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        7. Have a good sense of time

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          Having a good sense of the passage of time is a skill. A successful career relies on being punctual and conscientious. I find that the easiest way to keep track of time is to have clocks everywhere. When you can actually see time represented, you are likely to be more conscious of the amount of work you can do and procrastinate less. Keeping good track of time prevents spending money on cabs or breakfasts on the go because you’re running late!

          8. Use essential oils as perfume and air fresheners

          Perfume is quite expensive, and recent studies have shown that some ingredients in perfumes can trigger allergies and migraines. A good way to replace your artificial scent is to buy your favourite essential oil at your local health store (go on the days when they have discounts), and mix a few drops of essential oils into a body mist. By diluting a few drops of the oil in water, one tiny bottle of oil can lasts for months! To make an air freshener, just drip a few drops of the oil into a spray bottle, fill the rest with water, and you have a homemade air freshener that’s not bad for the environment or your wallet.

          9. Always have a bottle of water

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            Having a bottle of water with you when you’re out means that you can save money on drinks, stay hydrated, and be healthy. Drinking water (not tea, juice, or coffee) is the best way to hydrate your body. Additionally, drinking enough water means your skin will be better because it’s moisturized from within, and that will save you money in the long run on skin care products.

            10. Pay with cash instead of plastic

            Nowadays, people don’t carry cash with them because of the convenience of debit and credit cards. However, withdrawing cash from your bank account means that you can associate a sense of realness to your money: each piece of paper is a physical representation of the money you worked hard for. When you pay with cash, money isn’t just some number in your bank account – it’s actually a symbol of your time and work. On the other hand, using a debit card removes the sense of loss when you spend money, and a credit card gives you a false sense of wealth because you don’t have to pay right away. Keep no more than $20 in your wallet, so that when you can’t buy what you want with cash, it’s a good chance to reconsider your purchase. Try it out!

            Being frugal is not always easy, but it does come with lots of perks. You’ll be able to save money for the things you need rather than the things you want, start a fund for emergencies, and avoid accumulating debt. It’s the habit that matters. By saving a bit of money here and there today, you’ll find it easier to do the same every week, and then every month. Every penny counts! What are your money-saving tips?

            Featured photo credit: Save Money via flickr.com

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            Published on September 17, 2018

            How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

            How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

            Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

            With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

            So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

            1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

            It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

            You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

            So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

            2. When you want something big, wait

            Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

            It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

            We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

            A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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            So, you get the itch.

            You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

            Here’s where you have to take a step back.

            Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

            Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

            It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

            The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

            3. Live smaller than you can afford

            You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

            You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

            That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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            Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

            Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

            The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

            But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

            4. Practice smart grocery shopping

            Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

            But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

            Create a grocery budget

            Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

            Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

            I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

            Make a list… and never deviate

            Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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            You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

            These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

            Eat before going grocery shopping

            It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

            If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

            After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

            Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

            However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

            This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

            5. Cancel your gym membership

            Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

            The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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            Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

            I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

            Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

            Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

            For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

            Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

            There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

            It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

            I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

            Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

            The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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