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How To Save Money Effectively With 10 Simple Acts

How To Save Money Effectively With 10 Simple Acts

When money is tight and it’s time to start cutting back on spending then targeting your grocery shopping is a great way to cut costs. It’s so easy to over-spend on good food and luxury items without really realising. Making a few changes to the way you grocery shop can save you so much money and will get you into good habits when searching out bargains.

Shopping cheap doesn’t have to mean eating low quality and unhealthy food; you can still eat delicious meals on a budget – it’s just about spending smart. Here are some great ways to save money without cutting on the quality.

1. Make A List

Sounds obvious but how many times do you have a list but buy loads more once you get to the supermarket? Most of the time we only write down what we know we’ve run out of and end up buying more on top of that. It will save you a lot of money if you sit down and make a plan of action to work out what kind of items you’re going to aim to get and making notes of what deals the stores are currently marketing. Write down your budget at the top and aim to stick to it as closely as possible.

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2. Use Coupons Only When Necessary

Coupons can save us loads of money if we use them in the right way. Don’t use coupons on anything you don’t really need just because you want to use the coupon. It can be tempting to do this but we do just end up spending more than we need even though we think we may be getting a cheap deal. If the item is a necessity use it, if not throw that coupon away!

3. Check Unit Prices

It’s always a good habit to check the unit prices on the price label. We tend to forget to do this as it’s usually pretty small to see but you’ll be surprised just how much the cheaper option isn’t actually as cheap as you thought. You want to get as much as possible for your buck so make sure those unit prices add up; it may mean a little maths but it’s worth it!

4. Buy Own Brands

It’s very tempting to stick with brand named products because we’re under the illusion that these are of better quality. It’s been shown time and time again that shop-brand products have next to no difference in taste or quality, only in price. So just because the label doesn’t look as pretty or you’re not used to a different brand it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. With brands you really are just paying extra for nothing so make the switch.

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5. Don’t Shop Hungry

Always a good tip – never ever shop hungry. With blood sugar low, studies have found that you can actually spend up to 70% more when you’re hungry as opposed to not being hungry. Not only that but you will more likely buy the wrong kinds of foods which are always more expensive. So always go grocery shopping post-meal to save those pennies.

6. Plan Meals After You Buy

Sounds like a backwards habit, right? But planning exact meals and then shopping for them can cause you to spend more. If you know the recipe calls for cheap foods then it’s okay but if you like to make random recipes and buy the ingredients as you go you can end up buying more expensive items. It’s much better if you buy the cheaper foods and then plan meals around them later – it can be fun finding good and interesting recipes that you can use your ingredients for!

7. Look For Sale Items

Always a great habit to have. Supermarkets always have that shelf where they put all the food or other items that they need to get rid of. Either they’ll be going past their sell by date soon or the packaging will be damaged but it makes no difference other than the price!

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Make sure you stop by and have a look to see what they have to offer. If the food is about to expire in the next day or two then it’s easy to just freeze it as soon as you get home. Of course try not to buy random items you don’t really need as this is counterproductive in saving the cash. So focus on rock bottom prices on items you know you’ll need or normally use.

8. Bulk Buy on Deals

Sometimes bulk buying can feel like you’re spending more money but think of it as an investment. If toilet rolls are on a ‘buy one get the second for half price’ deal then snap it up. You know you’re going to always need toilet rolls so it makes sense to stock up on this deal. Always be on the look out for deals on essential items or items you know you use a lot. You will save money in the long run.

Make sure you don’t get seduced on deals for luxury items or items you don’t usually use – it can be really tempting but you aren’t really saving money even though it may seem like it. Supermarkets love to market deals to make you think you’re saving money but most of the time you won’t be.

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9. Stock Up on Versatile and Cheap Foods

Stocking up on food items that can be used in many weird and wonderful ways can save you loads of money. Take potatoes for example, they really are one of the most versatile things on our shopping list; they can be mashed, fried, boiled made into hash browns, potato wedges, fries, baked potatoes – so many amazing ways to use them. Lentils, beans and vegetables are also great at bulking out meals making them a healthy and cheap way to eat more without spending a lot.

10. Go Meat-Free At Least Once a Week

Meat can be expensive. Look out for good deals at the meat counter to save money but another alternative is to go meat-free for one or two days a week. No problem if you’re already a veggie or a vegan but for the meat-eaters out there, meat is a massive addition to your weekly shopping spend.

There are so many delicious recipes that don’t include meat and will leave you nicely satisfied; meat isn’t as much of a necessity as we may think. There are many cheap ways to add protein to a meal, for example eggs, lentils and pulses or soy.

Further Tips To Save Money

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    • Invest in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are amazing because not only do they save you time but they save you money as well. You can throw the simplest of ingredients into it and it’ll make great warming stews, soups – pretty much anything. You can also make large amounts and make it last over a couple of days.
    • Your freezer is your best friend. A freezer is almost a necessity when it comes to cutting your spending on food. Freezing food found on the sale shelf to prolong its life can allow you the convenience of saving money and eating it at a later date. Bulk cooking and freezing meal-sized portions will extend the amount of meals you have and save you loads of money. Any deals you find on food that will easily go off can be separated into sizeable amounts and popped in the freezer for later. Basically if you want to save money, then freeze!
    • Research cheap recipes. Spending time researching delicious recipes that use cheap ingredients will give you an idea of what kind of items you should go for when shopping. There are loads of great websites out there that you can go to – thankfully eating cheap doesn’t mean eating noodles every night.
    • Eat leftovers for lunch. Never waste anything. If you have a small amount leftover then have it the next day for lunch.
    • Eat meals on smaller plates. The problem with large plates is that we can tend to make portions unnecessarily bigger resulting in eating more than we need to. Using smaller plates will keep the portion as it should be and therefore not eating too much into the budget!
    • Do food shopping at the end of the day. Shopping at the end of the day preferably after you’ve eaten is the best time to save money. You’re full from dinner and this is usually the time that supermarkets put their fresher items on sale so shop later for a bargain.
    • Try visiting ethnic food shops. Don’t just limit yourself to supermarkets. Ethnic shops are great for cheaper items and you can usually find unusual ingredients to make your meals a bit more fun.

    Featured photo credit: unsplash via pexels.com

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    Jenny Marchal

    A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

    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. And 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 on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

    5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

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

    1. Be Clear About the Objectives

    Any goal (let alone financial) 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 is for. It could be anything like kid’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, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

    2. Keep Them 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 out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

    It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for 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”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

    Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

    For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

    4. Short Term vs Long Term

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

    As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as 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.

    More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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    5. To Each to His Own

    The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

    It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

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

    11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

    Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 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. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

    Ensuring Healthy Savings

    Self realization is the best form of realisation 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 monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

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

    2. Pay Yourself First

    Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

    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 then manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

    Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

    3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

    Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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    Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

    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. Rise Again Even If You Fall

    Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

    If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

    Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

    All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

    5. 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 counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

    Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

    If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

    If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

    So 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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    6. 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. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

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

    7. Maintain a Journal

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

    So 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.

    Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

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

    At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

    Making Smart Investments

    Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

    8. Consult a Financial Advisor

    Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is 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.

    9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

    Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

    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.

    Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

    It is here where that classification will help.

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    So 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 as compared to equity instruments.

    10. 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.

    So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

    11. 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; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

    If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

    Do 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

    This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

    As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

    More About Personal Finance Management

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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