We are all looking for ways to save money and spend less money aren't we? You can either try that or get a second and maybe a third job and work until you have no time to enjoy your money or your life. My wife and I managed to pay off our house in 7 years, buy all our cars with cash and accumulate retirement and long term savings. We are debt free and have been for most of our lives. This has allowed me to retire at 60 and to start enjoying other things. These are just some of the frugal money saving ideas we have employed and the train of thought we use to guide our financial lives.
We write down what comes in and what goes out
Besides our fixed expenses which we try and always minimize by looking for cheaper companies to deal with, it's important to know what your life costs. The only way to do that is to write down all the money that comes in every month and what goes out. No complicated strategy involved here just simple math. You can use an Excel spreadsheet or use Quicken. The choice is yours but keep it simple. Here are just a few reasons this will be beneficial to your financial health going forward:
- it will show you in black and white just how many times you are needlessly going to the store
- you can monitor where you need to cut back based on amounts spent
- this allows you to see just how fast the spending adds up
- you an use this method to try and see how many days in a row you can spend ZERO dollars
Related Blog Post: Does Budgeting Work for Saving Money?
Recommended Reading: Your Money or Your Life
Make Your Own
The amount of money you can save just by making your own lunch to take to work and to stop eating out in restaurants is just staggering. When I was working I couldn't believe how much people spend on the road eating. (I was a truck driver). If you just spent $10 a day let's say on lunch and a coffee a day, that's $300 a month in needless spending. Pack a lunch and a thermos, it's what the smart money people do.
The Grocery Dilemna
There are some great apps that you can access to get the best deals on your groceries. You will instantly know who has the item you want and at the best price. This is one of the biggest household costs for most families so the more you can cut this bill back, the faster you can put money towards savings. Try and take a monthly average, see what and where you're spending the most and then challenge yourselves to spend less if you can. If that doesn't work for you then set a hard cap in terms of what your willing to spend on groceries.
Save Your Money for something meaningful
Have a goal in mind every month on what you can do or would like to do with what's left over (there should always be something left over). Plan a trip, book that trip early to get the best discount on flights and hotels. Set a spending plan for your trip. I hate budgeting money when I'm on our trip or vacation. Do you really want to pinch pennies when you are trying to reward yourself for being frugal all year? I don't, and won't. Enjoy your vacation with wanton abandon.
Start saying NO!
Look for cheaper ways to have fun and enjoy your money. There doesn't have to be a cost to everything you do. There is always a cheaper alternative. The movie theater in our home town charges exactly half the price as the newer monster theatre in the city next door. I estimate by not driving there and supporting our local community, we are saving $50 on every movie. That's significant. They also allow us to bring in our own popcorn, snacks, candy and drinks. There are also a lot of free activities you can do around the town you live in if you just look.
Cut Your Commuting Costs
My Dad always said try and live as close to your job as possible because the work day is long enough without a long commute. If you have to commute, look to double up and share the expense with a co-worker. Move if you have to. Better yet, ditch your ride for a bike or walk. Here in Canada you can do that for at least 7 months of the year, the other 5 can be pretty nasty. The cost of gas per month for people commuting to the city is at least $200-250. Think of what you could do with spending a little less on gas.
Pay With Cash
The main problem with debit and credit is that it's way too easy to spend. No thinking involved. You just blindly hand over the plastic and pay your bill. When you actually start handing over your hard earned money in cash form it will transform you. You won't want to spend it. That's a good thing. You can physically part with your money and maybe ask yourself that all important question, "Why am I buying this and do I need it"? If you have cards and are disappointed with the slow pace of rewards just try leaving them at home and go to cash. Try it for a month.
Final Frugal Thoughts
Just try some of these simple tips and see if they can help you increase your monthly savings. You have to be willing to sacrifice a little today to save some for tomorrow.
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