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The Smart Ways to Save Money Fast (Even If You’re a Big Spender)

The Smart Ways to Save Money Fast (Even If You’re a Big Spender)

Are you under the constant impression that you are barely making ends meet? It is almost impossible to treat yourself with something expensive, as you seem to have just enough money to get by through the month.[1]

Also, you have no major expenses on a daily basis, you pay the bills, you eat out maybe once or twice, and then you get your monthly subscriptions and maybe one or two new items. Yet, you still end up wondering where all your money went.

Furthermore, it has definitely occurred to you that you might need to get credit at some point, either for a new car or for an apartment, and that requires a positive credit history. All of these are valid and troublesome concerns, especially if you don’t have at least $1000 in your savings account.

So, here, we will go over how to increase your savings and become more prudent, as well as why saving money is tricky but necessary.

I got it, we save money today to prepare for a better future.

We are all fully aware of the reasons why it is important to save money. For starters, it is the first and most important step towards financial independence.

The second reason is that we need savings in the event things go south for some reason, or if we need money to buy or repair a piece of equipment that is necessary for our work or of us to earn money.

Lastly, you need to know how to properly manage your finances in order to have a positive credit score, which will make it easier for you to get a loan if you ever need one, and you will also have lower interest rates when returning that money.

But saving money always seems to be so difficult…

One of the main reasons why saving has become more difficult is due to micro transactions and monthly subscriptions.

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If you want to save money, you need to give up a magnitude of smaller things rather than one or two of them. In other words, any attempt to save money by cancelling one subscription for example seems meaningless, since you aren’t saving a lot to begin with.

Another reason why we struggle with saving cash is because of our daily habits. We have developed certain tastes, and certain rituals that we tend to indulge on a daily basis, so very often, saving money warrants a fundamental change and people are not really fond of them in general.

Moreover, if you have a lot of bills that require immediate attention, it is difficult to think about saving money, when there are clearly more pressing matters.

So, spending money provides us with short-term positive feelings that we have kind of grown addicted to, whereas saving money does not. So, we are in a way stuck in this hedonistic treadmill,[2] and we just continue to live on paycheck to paycheck.

What can I do to start saving money?

Now let us go over some of the techniques, habits, and tricks on how to start saving money on a monthly basis. If you somehow manage to adhere to all of these tips, you can look forward to a significant amount of cash. However, we are all aware just how difficult it can be to drastically change your life, so you can also introduce these new methods one at a time.

1. Say no to extended warranties.

Whenever we buy something we want to make sure that the item is high quality and that it will serve us for months or years to come. As a result, we are very often tempted to buy extended warranty, which is, in a way, a waste of cash.

First of all, if you are not particularly clumsy and if you do not cash in on your extended warranty, then there is no need to get one in the first place.

Second, we hate using the same thing for more than a year, so it is very likely that you will buy a new item or gadget even if the old one is still working.

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2. Buy refurbished gadgets.

Here is a really good way to save a significant amount of money and get good products at the same time. We usually pay more for something just because it has a strong and well-known brand name behind it.

There is no reason to think of that as a bad choice; after all, a renowned brand means greater security, but it also means that it has good products in general.

In other words, buying branded refurbished gadgets can help you get amazing and useful tech without spending a fortune on it.

The downside of it is that you will not be up to date with the latest product, but eventually, they will be available as a refurbished phone or tablet, or any other gadget.

It is a good way to test yourself if you are buying out of peer pressure and to stay relevant, or if you are buying because you are acting on impulse.

3. Make it a weekly challenge.

A very useful trick for saving extra cash on a monthly basis is the so called weekly challenge. Much like with any game there are the easy, normal and hard mode, and this is how it is done. Basically, you set a weekly sum for yourself that you need to put aside at the end of the week.

You can go with $1, $5, or $10. The key is to double the amount at the end of the next week and so on until the end of the month. So with $5, you have $5 at the end of first week, $10 at the end of second one, $20 at the end of third and $40 at the end of the month.

This is why it is way more difficult to pull it off with $10 as your starting sum. It is a really good way of saving money, and you need to invest it with the rest of your savings into your savings account, in order to accumulate a more significant savings stash.

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4. Train yourself to be more patient.

Patience is a virtue and for a good reason.[3] When it comes to saving money, you can save a lot if you are patient.

First of all, it gives you more time to research and discover better items at a more available price.

Second, you can wait until there is a sales incentive or discount at the store before you buy something expensive.

Third, many stores offer discounts if you purchase multiple products, so it is better to save money and then purchase in bulk because you are going to save more this way.

5. Save your spendings on transport.

We tend to spend a lot of cash on transport, whether we’re buying gas, or even worse, if we use a cab to get by.

If you make a deal with friends from work to car pool, you can reduce the carbon footprint by relying on one vehicle, and you can save money on gas.

If you spend too much money on taxis, then you should immediately switch to public transport. This is far more convenient and cheaper, plus when the traffic is busy, you will actually get to where you need to be more quickly.

Simply get a monthly pass, or store value on your metrocard to save more money and start walking a bit; it will do you good. Alternatively, you can buy a bicycle and use it to commute; it is also convenient, cheaper, and great for your health.

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6. Cancel unnecessary subscription.

As mentioned, a great portion of our funds is funnelled away due to our monthly subscriptions that we do not even fully use. So, limit yourself to a single subscription that you are going to like the most during one particular month.

Private networks like hulu or Netflix usually announce what their users can expect in the upcoming month, so you can check that content in advance and decide which network you are going to use for that month.

7. Don’t pay for brand names.

We tend to pay a lot for big names and influential brands, and these products are usually overpriced for no reason. Sure, you might want a particular phone or PC to have strong components and, since it is a long term investment, you do not mind spending a bit extra.

However, when it comes to chargers, HDMI cables, headphones, or adapters, you can find decent products at a lower price that are going to get the job done. So, when you are buying something, it does not need to be from an expensive producer at all costs, and you can save a lot if you opt for less known, yet still competent providers.

8. Avoid eating out.

One way of committing financial suicide is by eating out frequently. Sure, we love the service, and that food is instantly prepared, but as mentioned, it is important that we practice patience in order for this to succeed.

It is far cheaper and healthier to prepare your own meals, plus you get to learn how to cook.[4]Today, we have pages and video clips that help us prepare meals, so there is really a small chance that you can mess it up, considering the amount of instructions you can get.

9. Consider energy saving appliances.

Finally, the money you save can be invested into energy conserving appliances and this helps you reduce the amount of money you pay for the bills. You can get energy saving light bulbs, as well as other appliances that spend less electricity, and you can even buy solar panels at one point.

Moreover, you can check your electricity provider to see how much they charge and switch to another one in your area that charges less.

Well these were the tips that can help you save money; you should also make sure to look up how to earn extra money online, just so that you create an even bigger savings account.

Some of these don’t require too much effort, others may include learning new skills, but mostly, it’s about practicing patience and restraint. Hopefully, you will find this article insightful and inspiring, and it will help you save some money.

Reference

More by this author

Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

Have you ever looked at health gurus and wondered how on earth they can afford all that health food? Or maybe you’ve tried multiple times to start eating healthy only to find the $600 monthly budget overwhelming?

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I absolutely understand the sinking feeling of looking back over a grocery budget and finding you went way over what you intended. And besides that, it can be hard to justify buying a tiny $5 bag of carrot chips while a $1 mound of potato chips is sitting right next door.

My husband and I recently ran into that struggle. We got married this past year and soon found ourselves trying to balance 12 hour work-days with keeping our relationship strong and trying to keep our personal businesses afloat. Granted, our budget was the one thing that took a hit! After we started tracking our spending, we were shocked to see we were spending over $1000 a month just on food! A little planning cleared that right up.

So, how to eat healthy on a budget?

Here’re the top tips I learned that helped us shave over $600 monthly off of our food budget so we could reinvest that in the areas that really mattered to us![1]

1. Meal Plan

You’ve probably heard the saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” right? Well, this saying couldn’t be any more true than in the area of healthy budgeting! The fact is, most healthy foods don’t actually cost that much… the pre-made time saving ones do!

If you go about creating a healthy meal plan within your budget, you could easily cut costs down to around the same price you are paying for junk food.

Meal planning is as simple as working in foods you already have in your fridge/freezer, adding in several meals with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies, and breaking it down into a shopping list.

Often, finding a few meals to make in big batches will save you the most money in the long run, which leads me to my next point.

2. Cook in Bulk

Not only will cooking in bulk save you a whole lot of time, it will save you a whole lot of money too! Believe it or not, if you find meals to make with similar ingredients, you can easily save more money than when you were eating unhealthy.

Don’t believe me? Just look at a $4 frozen pasta dinner. Now, sub that with a veggie pasta dinner. 5 zuchinni ($3), Pasta sauce ($2.50), and chicken ($5) could last you a full 5 meals which adds up to a whopping total of just over $1 per meal!

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That’s not even digging in to all the money you will save from fast-food. Trust me, a little $10 spent here and there add up! You’ll be saving a whopping amount from all the meal prep you will do!

3. Cook all Your Meals in One Day

The science behind this is 2-fold.

Number one, if you have lots of meals to grab and go, you will be far less likely to binge on pricier food when you get hungry. Let’s be real, you’re not going to spend 1 hour cooking when hub-n’-grub is at your bekon-call!

Number 2, meal prepping ahead of time will help you stick to your meal plan better when you’re not in the mood. Let’s face it, we’re all going to have days when protein and veggies doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But, if you have a full meal that’s quick to grab in the fridge, it will be easier for you to fill up on the good stuff rather than spending money on what you don’t really need.

4. Cut Back on Snacks and Specialty Items

I can almost hear you from across the screen. “But, I thought snacks were good for me!” Here’s the deal: Snacks are expensive! And healthy snacks, oh my goodness, say goodbye to your paycheck!

Look, I’m definitely not saying that healthy snacks are bad. Quite frankly, I would much rather you chow down on Halo Top than a triple-butterfinger-fudge sundae. It’s just that… healthy snacks are why eating healthy gets a bad rap for being expensive.

Look at it this way: You could either buy a week’s worth of groceries full of chicken, fish, beans, veggies, and fruits for $30. Or, you can spend that $30 on six snacks that will leave you hungry for more.

What’s more, the ingredients for gluten-free baked goods, sugar free substitutes, or protein powders alone will add up to you eating a full week’s budget in one sitting. By all means, if you want to work some yummy items into your budget, do it! But don’t confuse that extra monthly $300 of delicacies as a necessity. Your body and budget will thank you!

5. Satisfy Yourself with Your Favorite Subs

We all have an emotional tie to food. Maybe pasta reminds you of home! Or maybe a fresh-baked pizza is what gives you a feeling of comfort. Whatever you favorite food, find a way to work it into your budget in the best way.

We’re only human, and depriving ourselves of what we love will never end well. More often than not actually, it ends in take-out or a pricey-premade substitute.

Instead of finding yourself in this situation, find a way to make your favorite foods fit your budget. Zuchinni noodle pasta might just give you that feeling of home without breaking the bank. Or maybe you could google a healthy pizza alternative you would like that you could make at home. Often, something similar to your craving will be enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.

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Or, just buy your cheat meal and save it for a special day. That’s okay too!

6. Stick to the Cheaper Proteins

Okay, I know we all love steak. Unfortunately, buying pre-cooked or expensive cuts of meat are one of the easiest ways to drain a budget.

Instead of purchasing those, try buying frozen chicken or eggs. A 5 lb bag of frozen chicken can be as cheap as $5, and you can buy a whole weeks worth of eggs for just over $1. You could even try going vegetarian for a few meals if you really want to cut down on costs!

7. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

I know, we all love our fresh fruits and veggies! However, sometimes frozen might be the way to go if you’re looking to cut costs!

Fruits and veggies are easiest to ship when frozen, making them a much cheaper option. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have actually found that frozen might be better for you too![2]

The reason is, frozen produce is picked at its prime and shipped immediately. Fresh fruit tends to be picked much earlier so it will ripen while being shipped. Not only does this make it less nutrient dense, but sometimes the fruits are actually pumped with artificial flavors to make up for the lack of real nutrients.

While I’m all for fresh fruits and veggies, don’t feel guilty if you opt for frozen foods due to a budget.

8. Bump up the Calories with Rice and Beans

The problem some people find when trying to eat healthy is that it can be hard to get the amount of calories you need without relying on expensive “specialty” items. Instead of stocking up on pricey gluten-free breads and pasta, I say stick to simple rice and beans as the bulk of your meals.

Brown Rice is very cheap and easy to use as a base for bowls and dishes. Likewise, beans can add a bit of fiber making you feel full and satisfied without having to spend a lot of money.

If you are trying to cut on body fat, use extra veggies as the bulk of your meal and add in rice and beans as a filler.

9. Try Acai Bowls

Acai Bowls can be a really cheap and satisfying meal as long as you do it right.

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You can find cheap fruits at most stores or just freeze your fresh fruits before it goes bad.

Making your own granola can save you a lot of money as well. The total cost for this delicious meal should only add up to a few dollars compared to triple that price if you were to buy one pre-made.

10. Make Your Own Meal Kits

Do you like your meals freshly cooked? Sending meal kits to your doorstep is an easy way to drain your budget. Instead, try making your meal kit at home! Not only is it fun, you will easily get a delicious taste.

Simply find a few simple meal cards or print some out and fill a ziplock with the ingredients for each specific day. Don’t know what recipe to make? Another option is to order one month of meal kits and recycle the recipe into ingredients for the upcoming months with ingredients you picked up from the store.

11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

A few dollars spent here and there can really add up! Just as with specialty items, healthy drinks can be a blackhole for you. An energy drink and kombucha and coffee each day could easily have you spending and extra $300 each month!

I you really need a special drink fix, try making your favorites at home. Bring a coffee in, make kombucha, or even try making lemonade with stevia or a healthy soda. You’ll be surprised w hat a big difference such a small change can make on your budget!

12. Buy Cheap Online

Just like anything else, it pays to be prepared. Buying foods from online retailers can be a really affordable way to save money as long as you’re prepared.

Plan ahead for those more expensive specialty items you can’t live without. It will save you tons of money compared to having to buy food from a specialty store.

13. Don’t Fret about the Clean Fifteen

One of the huge things that can mess with a person’s budget is eating organic. For the record, I am 110% all for eating organic whenever you can. However, for some people, it can be hard to make organic food fit into a budget.

Instead of scratching healthy eating for a smaller budget, try to buy meat and the dirty dozen organic, and don’t go crazy about the rest. The clean fifteen are the fifteen safest foods to buy that aren’t organic! Meanwhile, the dirty dozen is the most worthwhile avoiding. According to Produce Retailer, these are the dirty dozens:[3]

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

14. Pay Attention to Storage

Keeping the food you have is just as important as how much food is in the first place. Try to stay on top of how much produce you can actually use before it goes bad. It might not be a bad idea to pencil an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to keep food fresh.

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Investing in good food storage containers could go a long way in saving you in the long run as well.

15. Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad

Instead of getting mad at yourself at the end of the week for all the wilted produce you need to throw out, try freezing it before you get to that point.

Most frozen veggies will taste delicious in stir fries and soups. You can freeze fruits to make sorbet or smoothies. Frozen greens can be chopped up and tossed into just about anything for a nutrient boost!

16. Consider Ditching Most Supplements and Powders

I have nothing against superfood powders and supplements. However, if your budget is tight, it can be hard to fit supplements and powders in.

Instead of adding in powders, add extra nutrients to you food. Add lots of greens and veggies to all your meals to meet your nutrient needs. If you need a specific supplement, you can find great deals online as well!

17. Use Budget App

There are so many great apps you can download for free. One of my current favorite is HoneyDue because you can track your budget easily with your spouse. There are many options available, just find the one that you’re most likely to use. The ones that download your spendings automatically are often the easiest and will give you a more accurate number.

My husband and I use the same app, but have a separate budget for each of our weekly food plan and for our additional snacks. Keeping things separate can often be helpful to know exactly where your money is going. Plus, it can help hold you accountable if you have a significant other you are sharing money with.

18. Use What you Have

Most people have unused protein powders lying around in their cabinets. Instead of letting that go to waste, work them into your meal plan. Protein powders can make amazing doughnuts, pastries, or pancakes!

19. Enjoy the Process!

Finding ways to enjoy your new lifestyle will be helpful in sticking to it long term. Find fun in seeing how much you can save each month. Make a competition with someone to see who can stick to the lowest budget and create something fun to do for the winner with some of the money saved! Blast some music in the kitchen while cooking your new recipes.

Budgeting and health doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun and you’ll enjoy your new lifestyle long-term!

Featured photo credit: kevin laminto via unsplash.com

Reference

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