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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 July 10, 2020

            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

            Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

            Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

            Identifying All of Your Debts

            The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

            Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

            1. Own Your Debt

            Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

            Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

            2. Make a Debt Tracker

            It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

            Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

            3. Get Your Debt Number

            Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

            Prioritizing Your Debts

            All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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            1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

            Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

            There are three main types of bad debt:

            • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
            • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
            • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

            Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

            • Student Loan Debt
            • Mortgage Loan
            • Business Loans

            2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

            Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

            Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

            If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

            3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

            Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

            Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

            Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

            1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

            “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

            It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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            Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

            Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

            2. Hide Your Credit Cards

            If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

            Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

            3. Automate Everything

            Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

            4. Plan Ahead

            Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

            For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

            5. Live Cheaply

            The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

            • Live with roommates
            • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
            • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
            • Take public transit or bike to work

            Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

            The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

            If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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            1. Maintain a High Credit Score

            Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

            • Never miss a payment
            • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
            • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
            • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
            • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

            2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

            Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

            Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

            If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

            How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

            Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

            1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

            Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

            Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

            2. Earn More Money

            There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

            Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

            Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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            Talk to Your Boss

            Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

            Start a Side Hustle

            This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

            Build an Online Business

            There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

            3. Celebrate Your Wins

            As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

            While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

            4. Set New Financial Goals

            Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

            Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

            These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

            Conclusion

            Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

            Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

            More Tips on Getting out of Debt

            Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

            Reference

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