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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

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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