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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 November 8, 2018

            How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

            How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

            After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

            But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

            Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

            Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

            Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

            Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

            The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

            1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

            Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

            With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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            Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

            Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

            For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

            Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

            It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

            2. Set your own boundaries

            Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

            Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

            Here are some important traits to consider:

            • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
            • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
            • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

            These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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            3. Continuously invest in yourself

            Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

            You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

            Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

            Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

            Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

            It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

            4. Document the value you bring

            Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

            To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

            A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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            Here are some ideas:

            • joesmith.com
            • joeasmith.com
            • joesmithprojects.com

            Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

            During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

            5. Hide your salary requirements

            Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

            But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

            The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

            Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

            6. Do just enough research

            Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

            Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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            Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

            Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

            7. Get compensated by your value

            Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

            Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

            Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

            You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

            The bottom line

            You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

            You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

            Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

            Reference

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