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50 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money

50 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money

If you think that budgeting and saving money is hard, think again! These days, there are so many easy ways to save a buck or two. Whether you’re using the best websites to score great deals or simply being more money-conscious, you can easily slash hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars from your yearly expenses by learning a few of the tricks and tips we’ve listed below.

1. Start a piggy bank. Emptying your pockets into a piggy bank every day is a great habit to get into to save money. Sure it may seem childish, but storing your change away can really add up.

2. Get savvy with coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money on grocery and everyday items. Start clipping them from the insert in your Sunday paper or go to a website like www.Coupons.com and print them out.

3. Carpool to work with a friend. Carpooling saves tons of money in gas, and it’s also good for the environment.

4. Eat a few vegetarian meals every week. Chicken and ground beef are expensive to buy. Try cooking spaghetti without the meat, or make a vegetarian lasagna, and save a few bucks along the way.

5. Call your car insurance agent. It only takes a few minutes to give your car insurance company a call. When you do, you can ask them about any current sales or deals. Many of them have discounts for seemingly small reasons that you can take advantage of.

6. Turn off your lights. We as a society have become much better at conserving energy, but it’s always helpful to have a reminder to turn off the kitchen lights when you’re in your bedroom and vice versa.

7. Shop at thrift stores. Thrift stores are great places to purchase clothing, luggage, and even furniture for less. You’d be surprised at the high quality of items that people donate.

8. Learn how to refinish furniture. If you learn how to refinish furniture, then you’ll be able to give all of your pieces a fresh, new look without spending a fortune decorating.

9. Buy designer clothes on Ebay. If you love designer clothes but still want to save some money, start searching for them on Ebay. There are tons of auctions on there every day, and you can get great deals on very nice clothing.

10. Get a roommate. It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting a roommate is a great way to save significant money on your expenses. If you’re worried about sharing your space, be sure to rent to someone who is mature and will respect your belongings.

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11. Grow a vegetable garden. Growing your own vegetables means less money spent at the grocery!

12. Avoid going out to eat. This might be hard to avoid altogether, but it’s been proven time and time again that cooking at home saves you significant money in the long run.

13. Buy used cars. Buying a car that’s only one or two years old is a much better investment than a brand new one. They don’t depreciate as quickly.

14. Use your own herbs. Small herb gardens are easy to grow, and you can keep them inside you home or in a windowsill. This can save you several dollars throughout the year, and fresh herbs taste better too!

15. Shop Etsy.com for handmade gifts. Etsy is a great online marketplace where crafters go to sell their goods. You can find beautiful pieces of jewelry and accessories for affordable prices.

16. Give up alcohol. A glass of wine can definitely be nice at the end of a long workday, but alcohol is quite expensive, and going without it can save some people thousands throughout the year.

17. Sign up for a gas rewards card. Many grocery stores partner with gas stations to get you discounts on gas for every hundred dollars you spend at the grocery. Be sure to research the stores in your area so you don’t miss out on these great opportunities.

18. Try having a “no spend” day. You’d be surprised how hard it is to go an entire day without spending money. Give it a shot and see how well you do!

19. Dye your hair back to your natural color. If you spend a considerable amount of money dyeing your hair or getting highlights every few weeks, try going back to your natural color to save significant bucks.

20. Check out Groupon. Groupon.com and other deal sites are a great way to save money in your area whether your find a restaurant coupon or a free movie pass.

21. Order water at a restaurant. Some restaurants charge exorbitant amounts for cokes, let alone mixed drinks. By just ordering tap water and making it a habit, you can save a lot of money throughout the year.

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22. Learn how to sew curtains. If you learn how to sew curtains, you can save hundred of dollars furnishing your home.

23. Buy in bulk. Buying your canned goods in bulk is a great way to save money over the long term.

24. Print pictures at home. Instead of using gas to drive to a print shop, print your pictures at home using your own ink cartridges. The cartridges are expensive, but you can get a lot of use out of them.

25. Borrow from the library. Why buy books when you can borrow them from your local library for free?

26. Consume all of your milk. There’s nothing worse than wasting food, especially milk. Make sure to only buy a half-gallon if you don’t use it frequently or use a lot of recipes that require it that week.

27. Use generic prescriptions. So many prescriptions come in generic form now. You can save a bundle by using them—just check with your doctor first.

28. Try e-books. You don’t have to have an e-reader to benefit from e-books; you can download the programs onto your computer for free and read them right there. They are significantly cheaper than paper books if you are buying, and you can still get them for free from the library at most locations.

29. Upgrade to first class if you have a lot of luggage. Luggage and overweight fees on airlines these days can cost even more than a first class upgrade. When you ride first class, you often get to take 70lbs of luggage and 3+ bags free of charge, so it’s a better deal.

30. Repair versus buying new. Sometimes it’s less expensive to replace a part on an item instead of buying a new one. For example, buying a new watch battery is much cheaper than buying a new watch.

31. Buy a water filter. Filtering your own water is so much more cost effective and eco-friendly than buying water bottles.

32. Get the flu shot. Getting the flu shot is very inexpensive, and preventing the illness can save you from taking too many days off work.

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33. Train your dog. Training your dog is relatively simple and just takes a little bit of time every day. A trained dog won’t ruin furniture, shoes, or your floor, thus saving you money.

34. Buy quality not quantity. A nice, quality pair of shoes can last you 10 years whereas a cheap pair will break easily and cost you more in the long run.

35. Learn to say “no.” Telling yourself no regularly is the best way to save money. Simply passing on the candy bar you want in the checkout line at the store can save you a few dollars, and doing this regularly can save you hundreds over the course of a year.

36. Use a clothesline. Drying your clothes on a clothesline instead of your dryer is a great way to save money on electricity.

37. Protect your assets. It’s easy and cheap to buy a surge protector and a bike lock. These inexpensive items protect more costly items and can save you significant dollars in the long run.

38. Use a pre-paid phone. There are many pre-paid phone plans that are significantly less expensive that the contract plans. Plus, they don’t come with all the strings attached. For example, Wal-Mart just announced they will be selling the iPhone pre-paid plans for half the price of regular stores.

39. Buy refurbished products. Many refurbished products, like computers, come with warranties so they are less expensive and safe to buy.

40. Learn how to hem pants. Hemming pants doesn’t require a sewing machine. You can actually do it by hand, and save a lot of money that you would have spent at the tailor.

41. Hand deliver notes. If you know you’re going to see your mom or best friend, hand them a thank-you note in person instead of purchasing a stamp.

42. Use hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids: get a group of your friends together to trade clothes and accessories they don’t want anymore, so everyone can exchange them to get new things for free.

43. Make homemade pizza. For the cost of one delivered pizza, you can make several homemade pizzas and use them for a few meals.

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44. Get a cash-back credit card. This type of credit card will give you a percentage of your purchases back in cash.

45. Buy neutral clothing. Wearing black, white, and gray clothes means that you can mix and match easier without having too many different outfits. (Hint: Make them stand out with fun, bright accessories, which are more affordable than a bunch of new clothes.)

46. Exercise regularly. Staying healthy means fewer doctor’s bills.

47. Go on a picnic. Or, take a walk on the beach. There are likely dozens of free activities you can do in your city that don’t cost a dime.

48. Buy Forever Stamps. Buying Forever Stamps means that you can use those stamps without having to pay extra when the price of stamps goes up.

49. Use frequent flier miles. If you save up enough frequent flier miles, you can get flights for free.

50. Read several personal finance blogs. Google “personal finance blogs” to find a list of great bloggers who share their thoughts on a variety of different financial topics, including even more tips on saving money!

I hope this list helps you save a significant amount of cash this year. Please let us know in the comment section if there’s anything we missed!

 

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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