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10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century

10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century

“Spend smart, save smart”. We’ve all heard it before: don’t spend more than you need to, and save every penny you can. Fortunately, today’s technologically savvy world gives us plenty of tools to help us save our money for the future. And, most of that conventional wisdom your grandparents passed down to you still applies, too!

Here is a list of creative ways you can make your money-saving systems more efficient. The great news is, you can do almost all of them right away!

1. Make it automatic.

Almost every bank will let you set up a system that automatically deposits a bit of money into your savings account whenever you pay for something with your debit card. And, that amount can be as low as 50 cents – making it possible for everyone to save money without having to think about it. With automatic savings, you’re guaranteed to save money because you’re paying yourself first.

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2. Ask for lower interest.

Call your credit card company and tell them you want a lower interest rate. Chances are, they’ll say yes. Of course, it’s better if you’re not carrying a balance at all – but just in case, it’s nice to have to pay a little less interest, right?

3. Use cash.

Allocate a specific amount each week for food, clothing and gifts, entertainment, transportation, pets, etc and take that amount out of your bank in cash. You choose the categories that work for you. Write down every single item you purchase. As the cash depletes, you can bet you’ll find reasons not to spend it. You want to have some left at the end of the week!

4. Put things on timers.

Your thermostat, your lights, your TV – you can control it all with the touch of a button. There are plenty of cheap products designed to let you program when things switch on – and when they switch off. By setting electronics to turn off by themselves, you’re saving money on electricity.

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5. Close your curtains.

Don’t have curtains? Even sheets will do. Curtains keep the sun (and heat) out when it’s really hot, so you don’t need to use your air conditioning as much. And they keep the cold out too, so you don’t have to use your heat as much. Down, down, down go your utilities bill.

6. Switch to more energy efficient bulbs.

The latest lighting technology might cost more up front, but the long-run savings far outweigh your initial investment. Go get some LED bulbs.

7. Have a clothing swap.

Want new clothes? Your friends probably have stuff you envy, and they never even wear it. Invite them over and have them bring at least 10 items they’re willing to swap. Everyone leaves with new outfits, and no one spends a penny.

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8. Use daily deals sites.

Get stuff you like at crazy discounts with Groupon and similar sites. You can save a lot of money on Christmas gifts and for other events when you buy these deals. Just make sure you’re getting coupons you’ll actually use, and don’t let them expire – then you’ve just thrown money down the drain.

9. Ditch the gym membership.

Not using that fancy gym membership? Cancel it, put your sneakers on and take a brisk walk. You get your exercise, you save money, and the fresh air will increase your focus and productivity.

10. Sell your stuff.

That cupboard above your fridge. The (way, way) back of your closet. Under your bed. You haven’t been there in years, but those cubbyholes are full of stuff. Do you even know what’s there? If not, you probably don’t need it. Sell it and put the money in a savings account. You’ll be surprised how much junk you can convert into cash!

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There are lots of other ways to save a buck, but a lot of them are DIY hacks that take a bit more time, making them less efficient. If you’re looking for ways to make saving more money a low-effort affair, the ten money-saving tips above are a win.

Once you have all of these in place, you get to decide what to do with all the money you’re saving. Start a business? Go back to school? Book a much-needed vacation? The options are endless.

Featured photo credit: 10 Creative Ways To Save Money Efficiently In The 21st Century via morguefile.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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