I’ve been unemployed for over a year now. While it’s not a fact that I like to flaunt to my friends or on social media, it has given me a realistic perspective in the area of finances. Watching my bank account dwindle as I continued to pay monthly bills got me thinking: what can I do right now to save money?
As it turns out, there’s plenty of things you can do right now to save money, and many of them take only a few minutes.
- Cancel unessential subscription services.
The quickly way to reduce the amount of money leaving your bank account each month, is to cancel unessential subscription services. What do I mean by this?
Magazine subscriptions. That association you handed your debit card to over a year ago, when you still thought you were going into _____ profession. That box of fruit that you’re paying to have shipped to you once a month, even though you end up throwing it out.
They’re all truly wonderful services to have, but when you’re broke, they’re luxuries. Save that money for your essential bills, such as your cell phone payment, rent, food, or a new outfit for job interviews.
2. Start using coupons during your weekly grocery visits.
There’s a lot of information out there about couponing. If you’re not ready to take on the practice of extreme couponing, don’t worry! I don’t shop that way, and I don’t know anyone else who does. The point of couponing is to save money, which you can easily do right now with minimal effort.
Make a list of the brands you regularly use in your household. Go to a website like Lozo.com and search for the products/brands that you already use. If you find a coupon for a couple of items, great! Print them out. If you can spare some extra change, buy yourself a Sunday paper (or two!) once a week. Cut out the coupons that you think will be useful to you. Bring the coupons with you and present them to your cashier during your next shopping trip.
3. Start shopping during sales.
Any easy way to stretch your money at the grocery store (or any store, for that matter) is to start shopping during the sales. I’ll give you an example.
During a non-sale week at my local grocery store, $300 does not get us very far. We’re lucky if we can pick up a few “basics” (milk, bread, coffee, snacks, drinks, pet food and supplies – keep in mind that this usually doesn’t include canned goods or meats of any kind).
However, during a “sale” week, $300 can stock our freezer, finish filling our pantry up, and allow us to purchase twice as much of our “basics”. A good week at the grocery store can keep us from having to go back for another 2-3 weeks, thus saving us even more money.
The key is, to shop the sales. Look at the weekly ads and compare prices. Is it cheaper to go to Walmart this week, or your local grocery store? Can you match up coupons with existing deals such as BOGO (buy one, get one free) or other low-price deals?
4. Look for ways to reduce your monthly bills.
Are you struggling to pay your monthly student loan payment? Examine your repayment options or consider applying for forbearance, if you’re going through a temporary financial hardship.
Are you paying too much for your phone bill each month? Consider switching to a cheaper plan, especially if you’re no where near maxing out on your data, voice, and messages each month.
It may not seem like much, but small savings here and there really do add up.
5. Find ways to reuse items that you already own.
Instead of purchasing new furniture, find ways to update or reuse what you already have. If your couch cover is in rough shape, purchase some cheap foam padding and fabric to make a new one. (Although the foam padding and the fabric will cost you money, it won’t be nearly as much as the hundreds of dollars you will have to spend on new furniture. You could also check local thrift stores to see if any has been recently donated.)
If pieces of your wardrobe need some TLC, consider fixing it yourself with a sewing machine or a needle and thread. Or, you could turn old articles of clothing into a new masterpiece! Pinterest is full of ideas for repurposing clothes and other items.
What are YOUR favorite ways to save money? Feel free to share your ideas with me in a comment below!