There is no one right answer when it comes to saving money. Being financially savvy is about cutting back and spending less, but it doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of everything that makes you happy. You make many spending decisions every week and if you can develop the right habits, you’ll soon see a noticeable difference in your bank balance. And of course, when you opt to consume less, go with secondhand alternatives, or try DIY solutions, you will also be doing a small part to help the environment.
Get what you need
This might be the key question to ask yourself when purchasing something: “Do I really need or want this?” If the answer is no, try to go without. If you’re not sure, you may want to delay making a decision for a day or two. You may find that purchase no longer feels quite so essential. Consuming less, will help you save money, and reduce your carbon footprint.
Eat and drink out less
You may love the convenience of to-go coffee, fast food, and not having to prepare lunches ahead of time. But you’ll pay for it, too. To save money, try and get into the habit of making coffee at home or at work, and bringing a packed lunch with you when you head out for the day. Eating out only when you really want to, will make this a special treat rather than a money-intensive habit, and help you produce less waste.
Go on a walk or ride a bike
If you need to get somewhere, choose to walk if the distance is under 1 mile, or ride a bike if it’s under 5. This will keep you from automatically taking a car or public transportation. This is also a great habit for improving your health and reducing your impact on the environment.
Plan your grocery shopping
To save some extra money, do the bulk of your grocery shopping at coops or less expensive markets in your area. Leave specialty or hard-to-find items for more specialized shops, since these are often more expensive. Planning your meals and writing a shopping list before heading out will help you only buy what you really need, and can help you reduce the amount of food you have to throw out.
Are you an avid home cook? If you’re not, don’t worry! Try to motivate yourself to learn some simple recipes using cookbooks, blogs, and online videos, so you’re more likely to attempt a home-cooked meal than giving in to ordering takeout. Freezing leftovers like soups and sauces is also a great solution for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking from scratch. When planning to meet up with friends, suggest dinner parties or picnics instead of going out to restaurants. Potlucks can lead to a delicious homemade feast, and everyone will save money.
After loading up your cart, holding off on clicking “buy” for a day or two, may help you figure out what you don’t want or need. Try to avoid the “return later” mindset. Consider treating online shopping like wish-lists or inspirational mood boards where you can store and favorite without having to immediately part with your cash. Bundling your purchases will also mean fewer emissions from deliveries.
Evaluate your subscriptions
Make a list of all the services you’ve signed up for and get rid of any you don’t use or want. Think of streaming subscriptions, magazines, as well as offline subscriptions like gyms, cable and meal boxes. Take advantage of your phone’s app store “subscriptions” menu to audit any subscriptions that aren’t top of mind.
DIY your beauty routine
Waxing your own legs, painting your own nails, cutting your own hair, and trimming your own facial hair: There are many things you could learn to do on your own to save some extra cash. You can also experiment with DIY cleansers, masks, scrubs, and other grooming essentials. These might be better for you, your wallet, and the environment.
Invest in secondhand
Quality secondhand items will often outlast fast fashion, poorly-made goods, and flimsy furniture. Explore online secondhand marketplaces and social media, or visit local thrift stores and vintage markets. Refurbished electronics usually come with a limited warranty and cost around half as much as brand-new products.
Repair when possible
It may take more effort repairing old shoes than just buying new ones, but even paying a professional to repair your clothes and furniture can be less expensive (and wasteful) than buying new items. You’ll save money, and keep products with minor issues from ending up in a landfill.
Take advantage of sales
For those that love shopping, waiting for sales might be a good way to curve any impulsive buying urges. Purchasing out of season may also seem a little counter intuitive, but it can also help you find great deals on items you’ll eventually need.
Curb your energy consumption
Being mindful of your water and electricity use can make a big difference, helping you protect the environment and save money. Switch to LED light bulbs, turn off lights when leaving a room, take shorter showers, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full.
Support your local library
Borrowing books, e-books, and movies from the library will help you save money and avoid making impulse purchases. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can also borrow one free e-book a month.
Discover free events
Follow art galleries, museums, and local cultural organizations on social media and sign up for their newsletters to be the first to know about free events near you. There are also a number of online resources, events newsletters, social media tools, and local publications that list free and inexpensive things-to-do in your area so you don’t have to break the bank when going out.
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