The basic idea behind putting in long work-hours is that our quality of life will improve. Maybe you pull some overtime or go above and beyond to earn a raise or promotion. Regardless of how you increase your salary, there’s an expectation that bank accounts will swell, and life will get a tad easier. One of the things that hold many of us back from saving a lot of money is controlling our spending.
The idea that you need a budget to rein in excessive spending is nothing new. Working people routinely create a monthly budget designed to chip away at big-ticket items. Many think they can save a lot by cutting off cable television packages or planning for a staycation instead of going away this year. While those strategies will undoubtedly reduce spending, they also tend to eliminate some of the things we enjoy. Rather than end binge-watching or chilling on a tropical beach, it may be worthwhile to try these 12 strategies to save money on three fronts — daily, weekly, and monthly.
One of the common ways that we spend more than we need to is by substituting convenience for time. In other words, when we decide to buy lunch at restaurant prices rather than prepare it at home, the cost difference can be substantial.
“At over $20 per serving on average, a restaurant delivered meal is almost three times as expensive as a meal kit and five times as expensive as cooking at home from scratch,” according to Forbes.
Coffee drinkers typically enjoy more than one cup of java in the morning. Some of us are two-cup drinkers, while others need to keep it coming. With each cup purchased at a café, you are paying a premium for the convenience. A recent post by the Apartment List breaks down the cost differences between buying at major chains and brewing at home.
“Home-brewed coffee generally costs anywhere from $0.16 - $0.25 per cup. The average lowest price of a cup of coffee from a shop in the U.S. is $2.70,” the Apartment List reports.
The cost breakdown also points out that just one cup daily during the work week adds up to about $675 per year. You could purchase upwards of 100 pounds of whole beans or ground coffee for that amount.
It’s not unusual for working people to consider electricity bills as a monthly budget expense. But, in reality, we lose money daily. Consider reversing those expenses by doing the following.
The unnecessary use of electricity increases painful utility bills like a thousand paper cuts.
Supermarkets offer huge weekly discounts on commonly-purchased items. One shopping strategy that saves a lot on weekly food costs involves aligning your meals with bargains. For example, supermarkets usually have at least one major discount in each area of the store.
If it’s low-cost chicken, stock up, freeze bulk packages, and wait to buy beef or pork when it’s on sale. The same holds true of canned goods and cereal. These items don’t go bad quickly, so buy more than you need for the week. The key takeaway is that if you ride the discounts and stock-up at home, you can reduce your food costs.
5: Don’t Waste Food In Your Refrigerator
It goes without saying; you wouldn't throw actual dollar bills in the garbage. So, why are you letting food spoil in the refrigerator? Consider preparing smaller portions, converting dinner leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch, or freeze items before they spoil. Some home chefs come up with a weekly meal that creatively uses soon-to-go-bad items.
There are plenty of trendy ways to lower the cost of commuting to work. Some people ride their bicycles when possible. Others walk if the distance is reasonable. With work from home becoming more common, talk to your employer about work from home opportunities or opting for safe shared transportation if necessary.
7: Work Remotely When Possible
Many employers shifted to remote workforces when the pandemic hit. For those who made the transition, it’s entirely possible this could be a long-term way to minimize the weekly expenses associated with working at the office. For example, a Gartner study indicates that more than 80 percent of companies plan to maintain a remote or hybrid workforce. If you have the option to work remotely, you can save a lot of money every week.
It’s no secret that spending money has become increasingly easy. We fall victim to impulse buys and frivolous spending because we can swipe plastic or tap on our phone screens. Disciplined spending has never been more necessary than in the technology age. One way to combat fluid spending is to disrupt that pattern one day each week. Rather than search Amazon or fill up the tank for a day-trip, consider catching up on yard work, organizing closets, or just relaxing with loved ones. There’s no need to work at overspending every day.
Online platforms sometimes put your trial subscription purchase into auto-renew. The conventional wisdom is that you will forget to opt-out and get hit with at least one more month’s costs. As the saying goes, “way leads on to way,” and that cost keeps popping up on your credit card. By taking the time to remove auto-renewal settings, you will likely let underused subscriptions time out or get a message offering you a discount to re-up. Either way, it’s a win.
It’s not unusual for busy people to round up insurance quotes and then stick with a company for years. This typically holds true for homeowners and automobile insurance. These days, wide-reaching companies are lowering rates to increase customer bases. While your policy may not be up for renewal this month, fielding bids now allows you the time to transition and save a lot of your hard-earned money for months to come.
One of the little-known things about cell phone service providers is that they don’t always publicize new discounts. For example, one major provider offers a discount for members of the military and people over 55 years old. Even if you don’t qualify for a specific deal, consider reviewing your talk, text, and data use. Compare it against existing plans and find out if you’re better-served — financially — by downgrading to a less expensive one.
Because we’re swiping credit cards and making purchases with our phones, understanding what we spend too much on becomes challenging to see. Having a budgeting app helps provide a visual of your monthly spending. These are some of the free apps that have garnered good reviews in 2020.
Mint: This app has been around for a while and enjoys widespread popularity. Mint syncs with your accounts to track spending in real-time.
PocketGuard: The free app crunches numbers to let you know how much money you have after paying monthly bills, routine expenditures, and savings account contributions. If used wisely, PocketGuard can save a lot of money because it helps avoid fees.
Saving money isn’t rocket science. We all need to track our daily, weekly, and monthly spending and bring it under control. We don’t necessarily need to reduce our quality of life. Simply tweaking the way we use money can make a substantial difference.
Terms and conditions
This content is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Individual circumstances and current events are critical to sound investment planning; anyone wishing to act on this information should consult with a financial professional. The information contained in these articles was obtained from sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of publishing. We do not represent that it is accurate or complete, and it should not be relied upon as such. All opinions and estimates expressed in this article are as of publication date unless otherwise indicated, and are subject to change.