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Got an unexpected expense? Holiday bills coming in? Planning to save for a home or holiday — whatever the reason, you need extra cash, FAST. Here’s my top five ways to save BIG TIME.
Don’t spend. Sounds simple, but take on a personal challenge – how long can you go without buying anything other than basic groceries, gas/transit, and essential medication? Takeout coffee? New shoe laces? What happens if you give it a miss? Can you get by? Of course you can. Do it, and your wallet will thank you.
Go basic for groceries. Like really basic. (Hence the name of a popular grocery chain.)
Plan your meals for a few days (if you can plan for a week, go for it, but me personally, I’m only good for planning a couple days at a time, then rely on staples in my pantry). Write a list (ensuring you have some basic, essential food items to keep on hand). Go shopping, and do not deviate from that list.
Do not buy packaged or name brand products (unless they offer a significant time savings or are seriously on sale or offer more value for your money). Stick with lower cost, and higher nutrient fresh fruits and vegetables (or quality frozen) and your health and pocket book will both benefit
Go meatless for a meal. (Or a lifetime, it’s up to you.) Cutting or reducing your intake of meat will translate to big savings at the grocery store. If you think you really can’t do it, try cheese pizza loaded with mushrooms and roasted peppers, maybe some jalapeno if you’re fancy. Your cholesterol levels will appreciate it, and you’ll enjoy the savings.
Or, if you’re a die-hard meat and potatoes household, try to put less meat into a dish, and increase the veggie quotient accordingly. Instead of sausage on a bun, try it sautéed with peppers and onions. You’ll need smaller servings of meat per person, and your dollars will go further. Beef stew? Add all the root veggies you can get your hands on, with a handful of kale thrown it, just ‘cuz. After a few weeks of this you’ll enjoy the savings and health benefits.
Sell stuff. Get rid of things you don’t use, and put that money elsewhere. Easy things to sell are children’s clothes and toys (the little monsters just keep growing out of them anyway) and household items in good condition. Consider big ticket household items – that second TV, or a leaf blower that’s sitting neglected. If you have a collection you no longer enjoy, consider selling that to someone who will.
Selling stuff is a win-win – you cut the clutter, and earn the cash. Put the money toward savings or paying down debt, and you’ll be smiling.
Cut (down on) the car. What?!? You say – I can’t live without my car – I live in the middle of nowhere, and I have to get to work. True, but consider a couple alternatives to regular car use. (And I’m not saying give up your car completely.) Can you carpool with coworkers? For long distance commuters the savings on gas and vehicle wear and tear is astronomical. If you are a household where each adult has their own vehicle, can you give up one of them? Before you fall over in shock, consider that the savings in insurance alone can be up to $2500 a year, plus car payments, and maintenance. Our family saved nearly $8000 in a year by taking a vehicle off the road. Yep. EIGHT GRAND, by taking one vehicle off the city streets, and walking, ride sharing and taking transit instead.
Eight thousand dollars – it’s something to consider.
Yay! – I gave you a free bonus item, and get to talk about one of my favorite financial tips – planning. Have a plan. Build a house, buy groceries, go for a car ride – you can’t do anything without a plan, never mind save money.
You need a WRITTEN budget in place, with the actual amounts of money coming in, and your major expenses in exact dollar amounts (housing, insurance, groceries, savings, and utilities). Sit down with a hard copy calendar, and write in when bills are due, and the actual amount. Then figure out how you’re going to cover those expenses, while ensuring there’s food on the table, gas in the car, and a roof over your head.
Details matter – you need real numbers, and if in doubt, round up (another of my favorite strategies).
If you have no idea what the actual spending amounts are, start tracking. Either pull the info from your online banking app, or keep hard copies of receipts, but by the end of the day, sit down with a piece of paper and write this stuff down.
You got it – WRITE IT DOWN. Old school advice in our high tech age, but there’s something about actually writing down numbers that forces us to actually appreciate our spending habits (and if you’re trying to stretch your $1500 paycheque to cover living expenses for four people, three $20 stops at your local coffee shop doesn’t make much sense).
A written plan gives you the big picture of your monthly expenses – and you can apply it to see the patterns over the year. You can adjust your spending to avoid leaking money on unnecessary expenses and plug up some holes in your financial plan. Maybe that $20 a week takeout coffee habit (at over a $1000 a year) is costing you more than you realized.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
home – money – life