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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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            Last Updated on September 2, 2020

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

            In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

            4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

            Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

            1. Be Clear About the Objectives

            Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

            It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

            Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

            2. Keep Goals Realistic

            It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

            It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

            3. Account for Inflation

            Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

            Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

            For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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            4. Short Term Vs Long Term

            Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

            As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

            By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

            How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

            Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

            • Ensuring healthy savings
            • Making smart investments

            You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

            Ensuring Healthy Savings

            Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

            This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

            1. Track Expenses

            The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

            Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

            If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

            2. Pay Yourself First

            Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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            Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

            The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

            Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

            3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

            Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

            Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

            At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

            Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

            You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

            4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

            In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

            Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

            • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
            • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
            • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

            The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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            5. Talk About It

            Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

            Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

            6. Maintain a Journal

            For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

            If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

            When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

            Making Smart Investments

            Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

            1. Consult a Financial Advisor

            Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

            Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

            2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

            Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

            Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

            As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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            3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

            Einstein once remarked about compounding:

            “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

            Use compound interest when setting financial goals

              Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

              Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

              4. Measure, Measure, Measure

              All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

              If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

              Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

              The Bottom Line

              Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

              and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

              More Tips on Financial Goals

              Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

              Reference

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