Whether you’re fresh out of college or if you are already starting a family, there would be times when you’d find yourself in a financial rut. It could be that you are neck-deep in credit card debt and you cannot seem to find a way out of it.
Those who are just starting out in their jobs might not have the means to survive while waiting for their first real paycheck, while also struggling to pay for their student loans.
Those who have kids may have real problems paying off the mortgage while sending the children to school.
No matter which stage in your life it is that you are in, you are bound to encounter such financial hardships at one point or another.
The good news is that there are ways for you to get out of the bind you’re in. With a lot of planning and self-discipline, you can implement money-saving ways so that you can iron out your finances and get out of whatever rut you find yourself in.
A Dozen Money Saving Tips That Will Improve Your Finances
Nobody wants to live like a pauper but not everyone has the opportunity to earn a huge paycheck every month.
So how can you make sure that you are living comfortably, without having to kill yourself or sacrificing your time for family by working two or three jobs? It’s all about learning how to live within or below your means.
Take a look at a dozen money hacks that we put together, on how you can improve your finances for the better:
1. Ditch the plastic
Ditch the plastic credit card, that is. This may not necessarily work for some people but it’s actually easier to control your spending when using cash. Instead of constantly swiping your plastic card for your everyday purchases, you would know when to stop or how to make adjustments with your purchases when you have cash on hand.
Let’s say that you are out for a snacks run in the grocery store. You can easily spend $50 on candy bars, chips and soda if you will use your credit card to pay. But if you only have $20 in cash, you can look for cheaper yet equally satisfying items that you can munch on while enjoying a DVD marathon of your favorite premium cable shows. The same thing holds true for eating out, stopping for gas or visiting the supermarket for your weekly household supplies shopping.
2. Pay off your debts first, then save
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to managing their finances is having a savings account while paying off credit card debts at the same time. Consider the interest that you’re paying on your credit card bills if you are unable to pay off the full amount by the due date.
According to IndexCreditCards.com, the average rate of interest on credit card debts is 17 to 20%. Even if you have a quite significant amount set aside on your savings account, if you keep on paying this amount as interest, the savings that you have will all be for naught.
As such, a good rule to follow is to eliminate all your debts first so you won’t have to waste money on interest rates. Then, you can pump up your savings account and not counteract it with interest payments for the debts that you incurred.
3. Schedule cash transfers for your savings account
If you don’t have enough self-discipline to set aside enough funds for a decent savings account, schedule automatic cash transfers through your bank.
For example, you can automatically deduct $10 or $20 from your paycheck to your savings account. This will not really make a huge dent out of your monthly expenses so you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself of life’s little luxuries. But at the same time, the little savings do add up so you can have something to spend for future emergency expenses.
4. Know how to cut back on your entertainment expenses
When going out, you’d have to eat at restaurants, get what you need from the mall or a convenience store, and spend for almost everything – including bottled water and transportation or gas.
The same thing holds true when planning trips to the movie theatre. Instead of always going out, cut back on your entertainment expenses by opting to stay at home. Make your own pizza or popcorn at home and invite friends over for movie night.
There’s nothing wrong in trying out a new restaurant once in a while, but the expenses of eating out do add up so it does pay to only allot a certain amount of your budget for this.
5. Unsubscribe to catalogs, subscriptions, store mailing lists, etc.
When a company selling products or services asks for your e-mail or mailing address, simply say no. Opt out of those e-mail alerts because the more that you are aware of what they are selling, the more likely you’ll buy. Even if the item is something that you do not need, anyway, the fact that you are aware that there is a price slash-off or similar offers will tempt you to buy – so just say no.
6. Exercise at home
When the New Year arrives, a lot of people find themselves saying yes to pricey gym membership agreements. The weight that they gained from overindulgence during the holiday season will be quite obvious, so they are willing to spend money to get back in shape. But if you don’t have the self-discipline to go through a rigorous exercise program, you will simply be wasting your money on such memberships.
What you can do is exercise at home, or use the great outdoors. Walk, run, hike, bike or use the gym mat or the dusty exercise equipment that you probably have at home. When you combine regular exercise with eating healthy, there is absolutely no need for you to spend a single cent on gym membership fees.
7. Cook at home
Whether you have a family or are living alone, cooking at home will save you a lot of money on restaurant bills and grocery bills.
- Plan a weekly menu so that you can eat healthy dishes without spending a lot.
- Scope out the farmer’s markets where you can get fresh produce at very low prices.
- Buy a slow cooker so that you can buy cheaper cuts of meat but still taste that awesome flavor on your dishes.
- Stir-fry frozen veggies, cook tofu in soy sauce or bake your own pizza using a ready-made crust from the store.
There are plenty of mouth-watering items that you can whip up in your own kitchen which lets you eat healthy without having to spend too much.
8. Simplify your life
The more stuff you own, the more cluttered your home is. Why don’t you start saving money by making a major de-cluttering of your stuff? Doing so would allow you to simplify your life as well.
Once you clean out your closet, for example, you can get rid of the items which you haven’t worn in ages to make room for new clothes.
Or, you can simply cut back on your possessions and once you experience how it is to live a clutter-free life, you will definitely think twice about buying those souvenir items which will simply gather dust or bring about mess inside your house.
9. Barter services
You’ll be surprised at how many people are still willing to barter services these days. Instead of paying cash for babysitting services, why not swap time with your sister-in-law or a neighbor who also has a baby?
If you have a mechanic friend and you’re an accountant, you can offer your service of looking at his books while he tunes up your car.
Whether in the workplace or at home in a typical neighborhood, the bartering system still works, especially if you’re friendly enough.
10. Teach your kids how to save money, electricity, water and food supplies
Those with big families will definitely be spending more on utilities as compared to families with a smaller number of kids, or those who live alone.
To minimize your utility bills, teach your kids the ways for everyone to save on electricity and water. Impress in them the value of saving money and not wasting food.
If each family member does his or her share in saving money, electricity, water and food supplies, that will add up to a lot in the end.
You may also like: Super Fun Games That Teach Kids About Money
11. Get rid of pricey subscriptions
Aside from gym memberships, you can also consider ditching land line services, magazine subscriptions, etc.
If you already have Internet connection, you can simply use that for communication and to consume your premium cable TV content at a lower price through streaming services.
12. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your finances
Finally, use a spreadsheet to monitor the ins and outs of your finances. One of the most challenging aspects of ironing out your finances is knowing exactly where the money is going.
If you have a spreadsheet – be it electronic or old-fashioned pen-and-paper – you would know how much you are spending on which aspects of your everyday living. If there’s a need for you to make certain adjustments in some areas, you can easily do that as well.
By following these top twelve money hack tips and tricks, you can improve your finances in no time at all.