Have you ever had those times where it seemed events conspired to spend your money for you before you even had it in your hand?
As you may know from my post In Case You Were Wondering, we’ve been dealing with a very ill dog for the past few months. He’s doing much better now, but between his doctor’s visits, medication, and special food, he’s costing us an arm and a leg.
My husband says the little guy and his brother are going to have to go out and find jobs….
.Seriously, though, part of wellness is Financial Wellness, and part of the formula for financial wellness is being able to successfully manage your expenses.
Having a “cushion” in our budget is really important when those unexpected expenses pop up, but many times, people just don’t see where they have any “wiggle room” in their budget to build up that cushion. To help with that, I decided to check out some really easy, practically painless ways to save money.
15 (Almost) Painless Ways to Save Money
- Make a budget. We have to tell our money where to go. If we don’t plan how we’re going to spend it, our hard-earned money has a way of disappearing before our eyes.
- Use cash. You may not want to use cash for everything, but it can be helpful to use it for things like eating out, groceries, etc.. When you have to actually pull out that cash, it can make you think about whether you really need what you’re buying.
- Save your change. If you do use cash, empty your pockets (or purse) and put the change in your bank (or jar). As your piggy bank gets full, take the change to the bank and put it in your savings account.
- Track your spending. Know where your money is going – those small amounts we spend daily add up over time.
- Eat at home. Cooking your own meals can save you lots of money. You can feed a family of four at home for the price of a restaurant meal. Taking your lunch to work can also add up to big savings. Just think — the average price of a lunch out is around $10. That’s around $200 a month if you eat out every workday! If you’re not a big cook, many grocery stores now offer meal kits that include everything you need for a meal. All you have to do is take it home and follow the directions.
- Make a meal plan. This can help you know what you need to buy when you go to the grocery store and keep you from making unnecessary purchases.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it. Using your meal plan, construct your grocery list to make sure you pick up everything you need. Be sure to check your pantry and fridge as you make your list so you don’t buy duplicates.
- Sign up for store loyalty cards. Many grocery store loyalty cards allow you to go online and download digital coupons to your card. One of the stores we shop at, Kroger, also sends us paper coupons based on our purchases, so they’re always coupons we will use. In addition, we get fuel points, which give us ten cents off per gallon for each 100 points we’ve earned. These little savings can really add up over time.
- Avoid using shopping trips as entertainment. Many people enjoy going out for a day of shopping and people-watching at the mall, but if you’re trying to save money, this can be dangerous for your wallet. It’s too easy to see something that you absolutely must have or that sale that’s just too good to pass up.
- Master the 30-day rule. According to The Simple Dollar, “avoiding instant gratification is one of the most important rules of personal finance, and waiting 30 days to decide on a purchase is an excellent way to implement that rule.”
- Find free entertainment. Community calendars are a great resource for this. Many communities offer free or reduced-price activities each month, and with a little planning you can fill up your calendar with lots of fun activities that don’t cost anything.
- Double-check your subscriptions. Are you using all those subscriptions you’re paying for each month? Often, we pay for things we don’t even use because we signed up for them and then just forgot about them. Are there any you find you don’t really need anymore?
- Drink more water. We all know water is good for our health, but it’s also good for our wallet. If you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking that expensive coffee drink or over-priced glass of iced tea at your favorite restaurant.
- Give store brands a try. Many store brands are just as good as the name brands, but it may take a little trial and error to know which ones are comparable.
- Make savings automatic. Pay yourself before you even see your paycheck. When you make it automatic, you don’t have the chance to miss the money you’re putting into your savings.
I’m sure many of these suggestions aren’t really anything new, but they’re some that I’ve found most helpful over the years. Some of the resources for money-saving ideas I found are listed below. If you’re interested in more ideas, I’d encourage you to check them out.
What are some of your top tips for saving money? Please share!
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