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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

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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