Everyone seems to be on a much tighter budget these days with prices continually on the rise and the economy in its current state. That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to cut out all of the fun things in your life that you would normally spend money on. In fact, there are some ways to save money in today’s economy so you can still do the things you enjoy.
Maybe you’re already driving less or clipping coupons to save some dough, but here are some extra ways to save cash and still be able to afford the fun things in life!
Choose Paper Over Plastic
When you go to a store, whether it’s a grocery store or a retailer, you are actually more likely to spend more money when buying with a credit or debit card. Think about how easy it is to pull out your plastic and make that easy swipe without even thinking twice about it. Now consider how it feels to have to pull out cash, actually realize how much you’re forking over and slowly but surely watch the size of your wallet start to dwindle.
Next time you shop, bring cash instead of your debit or credit card. That way, you’ll set a spending limit for yourself that you won’t be able to exceed and you’ll actually pay attention to the amount you are spending. After all, it’s nicer to have a fat wallet than an article of clothing you don’t actually need, right?
Brown Bag Your Own Lunch
Instead of running to the vending machine every time you’re hungry at work or stopping at a fast food place of some sort on your lunch break, buy groceries every week, and pack your own lunch. Buying in bulk is always cheaper, especially when you’re buying from your grocer. For example, you can get a pound of lunch meat that will make you a sandwich every day of the week for the same amount it will cost you to buy a sandwich at the local deli for one lunch. Stretch your dollar by packing your own food, and if you’re a green enthusiast, choose a reusable lunchbox over a brown bag.
Quit Smoking or Drinking
Think about how much it costs now for a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of wine or 12-pack of beer. Cigarettes, in particular, have experienced massive raises in prices over the past several years and are now just becoming a waste of money. Kick the habit and stop spending money where you don’t need to.
How much money do you end up spending at happy hour after work, having drinks with your friends or co-workers? You could eliminate that cost altogether, or treat is as something that’s fun to do once in a while as a celebration or stress relief. Try to avoid going out every week – it will be a waste of money and a waste of calories!
Grow a Garden
Even better than buying groceries and packing your own lunches is growing your own garden. Imagine having fresh herbs, spices and vegetables available to you 24/7, right outside your own door or window. You can have this when you grow your own garden, and you’ll save on buying the pricey products at the grocery store unless they’re absolutely necessary. Consider growing practical herbs that you frequently use and vegetables that you tend to use a lot in your cooking.
Depending on the size of your garden, you could even potentially make money off of the products you are growing. Think about selling what you produce at a local farmer’s market or trading goods with neighbors like they did in the ‘ole days. It’s much cheaper to put in the initial investment to start growing your own garden than it is to regularly buy these fresh products at the grocery store that often go bad within just a couple of days anyway. You’ll save money in the long run, as long as you keep you garden up!
If you have children that require childcare throughout the day while you’re at work, consider pooling the childcare costs with neighbors. Usually you can find a babysitter who sets special rates for watching after several children at the same time versus just one. Pair up with a neighbor who has kids around the same age and send the youngins to daycare together. You’ll be surprised at how much money you’ll save, plus your child will have a chance to make new friends with the neighbors they’ll be going to daycare with all the time!
Shop at the Dollar Store
This may sound like a cheap way out, and you may very well think that the Dollar Store has nothing to offer to someone like you, but in fact many dollar stores nationwide have begun picking up on the number of consumers looking to save some money and have responded by stocking their shelves with more regularly-used items.
Depending on the dollar store in your town, you may very well be able to find brand name products on the shelves for a fraction of the cost they would be at in a grocery store. If you don’t want to buy your food from the dollar store, consider buying things like garbage and freezer bags, paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning products at the discounted rates. The savings will start to add up very quickly, and you’ll likely find that there is no noticeable difference in quality of the products.
With these few quick and easy ideas, you’ll be able to start saving more money than you ever thought you could in no time! Just make sure you have a budget set for yourself and don’t ever go over it. You’ll find that there will be more money in your bank account to do things that you actually enjoy again with, instead of having to save every last penny for the necessities that are becoming increasingly expensive.
Allison Waters is a freelance writer from Massachusetts and has struggled setting budgets for herself in the past, which is why she is constantly researching new ways to save money. And with heating oil prices MA still on the rise, she does everything she can to lower her costs of living.