Looking for more ways to save money? Here are eight tips that can help you keep your budget and finances on-track.
#1: Tackle the “Big Three”: Housing, transportation and food. Most people spend the majority of their money on these three items. Reducing (or eliminating) your expenses for these three things will make a significant impact on your budget.
How can you reduce or eliminate these? Moving to a smaller home, moving to a cheaper town, or getting a flatmate / housemate who can share your expenses, can reduce (or completely eliminate) your out-of-pocket housing costs. Walking, cycling, or taking public transit can lower your transportation costs. And avoiding packaged, frozen and pre-prepared foods can simultaneously lower your food bills while also improving your health.
#2: Look for Small Cuts. Once you’ve addressed the “big three,” look for smaller ways to trim your budget. Can you ask a friend to cut your hair, rather than going to a professional salon? Can you and a friend take turns “babysitting” each other’s dogs when you’re out-of-town, rather than paying a kennel? Can you avoid manicures, pedicures and other beauty treatments?
#3: Question Your Mortgage. Crunch some numbers to see whether or not you’d be better off by refinancing your mortgage into a lower rate. (This goes back to the first point about lowering your housing costs, since this is one of the biggest bills you pay.)
#4: Avoid Restaurants. Challenge yourself to spend 30 days dining at home, rather than at restaurants. You may find that you save a lot of money by exclusively eating at home — and once your 30-day challenge is over, you may not want to eat out as often, since you’ll have developed a stronger home-cooking habit.
#5: Keep Your Home and Car in Good Condition. Spend money on “preventative maintenance” measures, such as routine home and car maintenance. While this might feel like an expense, it can spare you from paying much bigger emergency repair bills down the road. Think of it as an “investment,” so to speak, that limits your future expenses.
#6: Adjust Your Thermostat. Let you home be a little bit colder in the winter, and a little bit warmer in the summer. You don’t need to go overboard with this, or make yourself too uncomfortable. Just adjusting your thermostat so that you’re wearing a heavy wool sweater indoors — rather than the thin shirt you normally wear — can help you save lots of money on your heating bills.
#7: Develop the Habit of “Free” Entertainment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great time. Develop habits of pursuing “free” entertainment. Play sports or hang out at a free public park. Read books from the library. Invite your friends to come to your house for a cup of tea, and then spend hours talking. These are fun, entertaining activities that cost nothing more than a bag of tea.
#8: Encourage Your Children to “Earn” Their Toys. If your children are begging you for a new toy, encourage them to “earn” it. Develop a system of chores around the house — such as unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the floor — that allows them to earn extra money. Over time, they can save this money and then buy themselves the toy as a reward. They’ll learn important lessons about hard work and budgeting, and you’ll be able to avoid the temptation to spend too much on their whims.
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