So by now, if you're still with me, I'm sure you have established a budget for this year. If you have not, be sure to set one up! Even if you absolutely hate budgeting, I promise you that setting at least this responsibility in your life is going to change how you think about money. My heart behind this blog is to show you that saving money does not diminish our quality of life. Honestly, saving money and keeping track of our finances will only increase our quality of life because we won't be constantly worrying about being in debt and reckless spending.
Along with setting your budget, another great thing to do when saving money is trying to break a few habits or making a few lifestyle changes. These changes listed below, again, will not diminish your quality of life. These changes are going to help you save extra money to spend on the things that matter. You'll be thanking me later in life when you have money saved for that trip to Europe...but we'll get to that a bit later.
Any who, here are 15 ways to help you save money this year.
Couponing, couponing, and more couponing.
Now couponing (aka. the verb I am creating in order to describe the action of saving coupons. I'm pretty sure it's used by other bloggers too) is not only cutting out coupons from the newspaper or magazines, but it is also means following a few couponing sites. One of my favorites, Groupon, finds you the best deals for things to do in the city. Some others include Living Social and Yipit. Also, even if you want to try and avoid getting a mailbox full of newsletters, signing up to get emails from your favorite local businesses will mean getting good steals and deals in the future.
Make homemade gifts.
I'm a huge fan of knitting scarves and designing cards, so that's usually by go-to homemade gift. However, if you don't know how to knit, there's this really awesome site called Pinterest that can teach you thousands of DIY (do-it-yourself) gift ideas for future birthdays and celebrations.
This one is sort of a given, but I think people take it for granted! I mean seriously, have you seen some of the prices at Goodwill or Salvation Army? I've met many people who have tried to thrift for an entire year and loved every minute of the experience. Not only were they able to establish their own unique style, but they also loved the amount of money saved after a year of avoiding the mall.
Plan at-home gatherings (Potlucks, coffee houses, game nights).
I'm a HUGE fan of the dinner party. I think it's a dying art form, to be honest. I especially love setting up dinners potluck style and inviting my friends to my apartment. It saves a lot of money, you can stay as long as you want, and it doesn't require a whole lot of effort. Plus, after hosting one yourself, set up a schedule to switch off with your other friends on who to host. Then BAM, you got yourselves a few weekends of cheap hang outs!
Find fitness videos online.
Although online magazines can tend to be information overload, organizations such as Refinery 29 and POPSUGAR tend to be great places to get free workouts. Yes, I said it, FREE WORKOUTS. Who needs a gym membership when you can just workout in the comfort of your own home? Plus if you work out at home, it can be any time of the day. Roll out of bed? Time to work out. Home from work? Time to work out. Need to procrastinate on that homework? Time to work out.
Go to BYOB or BYOD businesses.
BYOB places may be more normal, but have you ever ventured to a BYOD (which, yes, means bring your own dinner)? I took the guy to a place in Chicago called Beermiscuous that allows BYOD, which was great after finding a Groupon for two flights of craft beer. So instead of going out and buying both dinner and drinks, why not pick one or the other and pack up the rest to-go?
Get a library membership.
I have friends who RAVE about having a library membership. I have to admit I don't have one, but after hearing about how much money they save from the library, I think it's time to get my own card. Movies, books, CD's, I even heard a rumor that some libraries allow you to check out hot spot internet? Yeah. It's a thing.
Free events in town.
I don't really think you could ever use the excuse "well there's just nothing to do" unless you look at the newspaper. Sure it's old school, but you would be surprised the types of free events that your local newspaper informs the community about. They specifically do this in order to give you things to do! There's always something free going on around town, and it calls for a lot of adventure.
The 30-Day Test
This wasn't my creation, but I've heard about this a few times and think people should hop on the band wagon. The 30-Day Test is simple: if you see something you like, wait 30 days before buying it. If you continue to want or need that thing after 30 days, then get it. However, some people (a.k.a myself) tend to buy things on an impulse. I want to try to be less impulsive this year with my spending, so when it comes to new clothes, new shoes, new bags, or basically any material goods, wait 30 days and see if you still really need it.
I tend to do way better at the grocery store when I go with a list. It restricts me to buying only what I need, instead of browsing the store and throwing what I want into the cart. I also have heard that people even make lists when it comes to other types of purchases, like clothing or gifts they intend to buy. People even make lists when it comes to their daily tasks (which can help people to prioritize instead of online shop).
Check unit prices.
Picture this: You want to buy a few containers of greek yogurt for your week. It is less expensive to buy a few containers versus a bulk container of yogurt, and it feels like it could be more useful to have the indivudals. However, take a look at the unit pricing for each first. Unit pricing helps you to see how much money you are spending for the item per pound. In reality, that large container of greek yogurt is going to give you more yogurt on a cheaper price, versus only buying a few and not getting as much yogurt. Make sense?
Plan out your meals.
I first started planning my meals when I tried the 21 Day Fix, but now it's become a lifestyle. This week I planned my lunches and dinners in advanced, cooked them on Sunday, and haven't spent any money on food this entire week. Not only are you eating healthier, but you are saving so much money and not stressing about food throughout your day.
Keep change in a jar.
I find pennies, nickels and dimes in my room constantly, and tend to just ignore them. What would it look like for you to create a jar and save them? Imagine how much money would be in your jar by December 31, 2016...
These are only a few tips on how to save money, but there are so many more. I want to continue helping you save money this year through this blog, so I hope this entry was a great start in getting you to save! Stay tuned for more ways to save money and how to still live an abundant and full life.