Follow these 10 simple suggestions to see a direct and immediate impact on your personal finances.
Sourced from: www.thesimpledollar.com
Ever wish there was a quick and easy way to improve your personal finances? Follow these ten simple suggestions to see an immediate impact on your personal bottom line.
The less time you spend in stores or near online shopping carts, the less you will be tempted to spend. When you DO need to make a shopping trip, make a list in advance and stick to it. This will help you shop faster, smarter, and spend less overall. Having a specific intention every time you walk into a store will help you avoid impulse buys.
The size of your home directly impacts how much you pay for rent or to your mortgage. The larger the space, the more you pay for it, and the more you have to buy to fill it (furniture, art, knick knacks, etc). Utilities are less for a smaller home because there is fewer cubic feet to heat, cool, and light up. Your home insurance will also cost less.
With automatic credit card payments and bank bill pays, it’s easy to forget how many bills you’re paying every month. Take the time to go through your recurring bills and re-evaluate their value, whether they’re still needed at all, and if you can renegotiate them. Entertainment subscriptions can add up quickly (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Kindle Unlimited, Audible, etc.) and you may not even realize you still have an active subscription! Utilities, insurance, internet, cell services, garbage collection… you may not be able to get rid of them altogether, but often you can call to renegotiate how much you’re paying. Are you trash bins never full? Order a smaller size and pay less! Does your internet subscription include a landline you never use? See if you can save by dropping it! Did you recently add cameras around your house? Your home insurance might go down with the added security. Shop your bills around to other providers, as well. If you take a close look at your recurring bills every few years, you will surely find ways to save money.
Find Your Friends
Do you ever feel pressure to go out for big dinners or expensive movie nights just to impress or keep up with your friends? Try suggesting lower cost activities that you’re interested in such as outdoor activities, cooking at home, and game nights. Friendships can blossom over any shared activity, so if your focus is on saving money, get your friends in on the plan. Even if you don’t tell them explicitly, good friends will want to do what you want to do, so start making suggestions that works with your budget.
With a full paycheck in your pocket (or your checking account) it’s easy to feel flush with money and start spending on things you may regret later. Instead, set-up some automation so that saving and long-term plans are prioritized and short-term desires don’t overrun them. Many companies offer retirement plans (such as a 401(k), 403(b), TSP, or similar plan) which can automatically transfer a percentage of your paycheck to the retirement plan (sometimes it’s even matched by your employer). That’s a smart long-term decision! Another suggestion is to set-up an automatic transfer between your checking and savings accounts each week. You’ll see your savings account grow, and you won’t be as tempted to blow your entire paycheck. You can also automate an extra mortgage (or debt) payment each month, helping you pay down the debt faster.
Cooking at home has so many benefits. The more you do it, the more you save, the healthier you eat, and the easier it gets. Even if you’ve never cooked before, you can do it. Start out by making simple foods like scrambled eggs, sandwiches, salads, and soups. Crock pots make it easy to dump a protein, seasonings, and some liquid in and have a warm, delicious meal ready when you get home for dinner. Spaghetti is easy, delicious, and cheap. Pack yourself a lunch to take to work ever day. Of course, eating out is still a great way to spend a special occasion, but building a habit around cooking at home every day can have multiple positive effects, including on your bottom line.
Buying used versions of things you need is a great way to save money and has the secondary impact of being good for the environment. Dishes, photo frames, kitchen appliances, clothes, instruments, tools, sporting goods, and more can all be easily bought used for much less than new. The same concept applies to bigger purchases as well, such as a car. Most of the time, 20% of what you spend on a new car is just because it’s new, while 80% is toward the actual value. Buying used is your best bargaining option!
Wear It Out
Instead of tossing items with a small break or problem, learn how to fix small issues and get more life out of what you already own. Broken lawnmower wheels, popped-off sweater buttons, jammed printers. If you can fix it – great! You’ve just saved yourself some cash. Of course, it’s important to maintain items you already have, so keep up with scheduled maintenances (descale your coffee maker, change your car’s oil regularly, wash your shirt on the delicate cycle) and you’ll see the life of these items extended longer than you’d think.
Buy Store Brands
Have you ever thought about all the marketing and packaging that goes into a can of soup? When you spend $2.50 on that soup, you’re paying for all the branding that has gone into it. That’s why purchasing store brands can save you so much. In many cases, they’re exactly the same recipes, just without the fancy packaging. Enjoy!
Buy Reliable Things
If you have a big purchase to make (cell phone, car, computer, etc.), take the time to research your options and find one that has great review for reliability, functionality, and bang for buck. You want your purchase to last a long time. Check Consumer Reports, online reviews, and blog articles to help you with your decision. In addition, buying items that are made to last longer (LED lightbulbs, for example) can save you money over time because you’ll have to replace them less often.