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How Saving Money Is Still Possible Even If You’re on a Tight Budget

How Saving Money Is Still Possible Even If You’re on a Tight Budget

We have all been there. Checking our bank accounts obsessively, fruitlessly hoping that money will just show up. Maybe you’re in the midst of a job transition, or maybe you don’t have a steady job at all. Whether you make your money through odd-jobs, a steady salary or part time work, there is a way to save money, despite the budget.

It’s scary, right? Trying to make ends meet while not turning into a recluse and always having to make up excuses while you can’t go out. You can start to feel like a bad friend and a lame person. But that’s just not the truth. We’ve all struggled with money, despite our age or profession. It takes time, effort and a whole lot of patience and self-forgiveness before you can figure out the right way to save. But there is hope!

When You Get Money in Your Account, Pay Yourself First

Even if you don’t earn much at the moment, there is no excuse of spending more than you save. Have you ever heard the expression, “Pay yourself first?” Whether you have a salary in which you automatically contribute a percentage of your paycheck to a 401k or your savings account, or even an old-school piggy bank where you store loose change, it’s so important to pay yourself (aka: put some money aside) before you spend on anything else. And if you use the solutions below, it can be easier than you think.

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Saving Money Can Be Easier Than You Think If You Do These 8 Things Regularly

1. Negotiate new rates and fees

This one can be scary for people who aren’t used to asking for things, but it’s so important and it really does work. I hate owning credit cards, but with an upcoming wedding, it’s sort of a necessary evil for me. But I was really sick of the high APR on the card I used often because I had been a long time customer and always paid more than minimum. Once I had paid the card off, I called and told them they would either lower my interest, or I would take my business elsewhere. Guess which one they chose?

You can also do this with utility bills. Call the companies and ask if they can work with you on the fees. If not, threaten to go to their competition. Don’t be hateful, I’m not encouraging you to start fights, but stand your ground and let them know you’re willing to pay someone else.[1]

2. Unplug the unused electronics (It’s not only an environmentally-friendly practice!)

Well, unplug all the electronics in your house. Did you know that if something is plugged in, regardless of whether or not it’s being used, it’s still sucking up energy and increasing your bills? So unplug your phone charger, the blender, the coffee machine, the TV, your computer charger…. you get the point. You’ll be amazed at what you start to save.

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3. Draft a list before you go shopping

Everyone knows to avoid grocery shopping when they’re hungry. It’s a sure way to buy way more than you intended, all because of your growling tummy. But the same thing happens when you don’t have a list/you don’t stick to your list. Plan ahead and stick to your shopping plan. More so, buy in bulk for cheaper prices and download some grocery store rebate apps on your phone!

4. Balance your checkbook

I know, I know, I sound like your parent. But balancing your checkbook is a great way to know how much money you actually have. Financial apps, like the one your bank no doubt offers, are great, but they aren’t always current to the minute. This can lead to hefty overdraft fees if you aren’t paying attention and spend more than you have. Seriously. Do it.[2]

5. Use cash before your card

The budget I created for myself involves reserving envelopes of cash for specific things. For instance, $200 specifically for groceries, $50 for restaurants/coffee shops and $25 for miscellaneous. I would only spend according to those envelopes, and if I ran out of cash, then I’ve spent all I can. Too bad. This is done in hopes of having a certain amount leftover at the end of the month to be put directly into my savings account. While it isn’t always realistic/smart/safe to carry around envelopes of cash, the idea is a good one. Really limit yourself to what you want to spend, and use cash before your card. There’s something about the feeling of handing over paper money that hurts a lot more than swiping some plastic.

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6. Bank on other people’s poor spending habits

You know that one friend you have who is always spending money on the latest trend and winds up with a box of stuff he/she no longer wears? Maybe they donate it as a tax write-off, or maybe they just throw it out. Tell them you want it instead! You’ll have a constantly changing wardrobe and it won’t cost you a dime! If you don’t have a friend like this, then buy used in general. Thrifting used to be taboo, but now second-hand is all the rage. eBay, Poshmark, ThreadUp and more are all great options to get new items for less.[3]

7. Get a programmable thermostat

This is one of those options that requires you to spend some money in order to save it, but for around $40, you can get a basic model and cut your energy bills by 15% ($45 a month!!). Some of these apps even sync to your phone, so you can adjust the temperature from anywhere. That’s a great feature for someone like me who constantly forgets to set it to 78* before leaving in the morning!

8. Pack your lunch

It can be so tempting to go to lunch nearby every day, especially if you work in the city. But have you ever calculated what you spend in a week on lunch or coffee? It’s sickening! If you go out to lunch 5 times a week, pack your lunch three times next week and see how much you save. You’ll be shocked and your bank account will thank you!

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So what do you think? Doable, right? I told you. Have other money-saving tips not mentioned here? Make sure to share!

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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