Long-term savings plans are important, but when you’re hit with unexpected expenses or even an unexpected pay cut, you need strategies that can help you save money today. Here are some ways to adjust your budget or pinch pennies immediately to help you make your cash stretch further.
- Plan meals to the letter, then shop carefully. If you head to the grocery store without a plan, you’re likely to buy more than you need or to make purchases that are not cost-effective. The Internet is, of course, an amazing resource for finding nutritious, filling meals made with affordable ingredients. Choose some that sound appealing to you, write down exactly the ingredients you need and buy only those ingredients. Resist buying extra snacks on a whim. Also, research grocery stores before you head out. The store you typically frequent may not have the most affordable deals.
- Quit subscription T.V. services. Services like cable, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or Netflix are great when you’ve got some extra money to spend on entertainment, but they’re also one of the easiest luxuries to cut out of your life to save money. You can check out DVDs and even video games from your local library when you want to kick back and relax. In fact, if you need some extra money on the spot, you can even sell your T.V. and DVD player. Many T.V. shows are available for free instant streaming online shortly after airing, and your computer can also play DVDs.
- Look for ways to reduce your phone bill. Phone bills can skyrocket quickly. Take a look at your data package. Are you constantly being hit with overage fees? Maybe you need to adjust your data package or simply cut back on your usage. Another hidden cost in phone bills is your landline. In this day and age, landlines don’t get much use if you already have a smart phone. You don’t even need a phone line to keep your DSL Internet services. Many people like to keep a landline for emergency purposes in case of a lost phone or a power outage. However, you can often get by without one. You can save $70 or more dollars a month by simply eliminating your phone line.
- Buy used items as much as possible. Used or second-hand items are not necessarily synonymous with poor-quality. You can buy nice furniture, all kinds of clothing, home decorations, hardware, electronics, appliances and virtually anything else used. If you need something, ask friends and family if they would be willing to give, loan, or sell you theirs. Take a moment to stop by yard and garage sales, but practice good impulse control and only buy something that you are purposefully looking for.
- Take care of your health. Avoid eating junk food and fast food. Wash your hands regularly. Learn how to manage your stress. Take a daily walk around the block. Anything you can do to avoid getting sick is going to save you money. You won’t need to buy medicine, go to the doctor or miss work if you’re simply not sick. Boosting your immune system is the best way to stay healthy.
- Become a Do-It-Yourself guru. When something breaks, learn how to fix it yourself. This includes mending clothes that rip, reattaching buttons, basic plumbing and car mechanics, and more. If you don’t have to call in a handyman to fix it, you’ll save money. Of course if something is potentially dangerous if you try to fix it without knowing what you’re doing, such as fixing an electrical problem, you’ll need an expert. Try asking friends and family for recommendations, and you might be able to land a family discount.
- Change your mode of transport. Can you walk to the grocery store? Bike to work? Take the bus to the bank? Carpool with friends to an event? Anytime you can choose a cheaper form of transportation, go for it. Cars are expensive to maintain and to fuel. If you find that you almost never need your car, you might be able to sell it, which will save you from having to make a car insurance payment as well.
- Take advantage of company benefits. Talk to someone from your company’s Human Resources department to find out what benefits your company offers. You should already know about the basics, like insurance benefits or a 401k, but you may be surprised by some other perks. You could land free tickets to events, free personal development perk like classes or gym memberships, and more.
- Buy only what you know you need and can’t make yourself. Don’t spend money on deluxe cleaning supplies when hot water and a dab of dish soap on a cloth will scrub away most messes, for example. Go for the basic hygiene products instead of the over-priced versions that look or smell a little fancier. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it, and if you can make it yourself, do so. For example, homemade toothpaste is incredibly easy and effective.
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to saving money, but they hit on some of the most expensive areas of life. If you can bring spending under control in these areas, you can make a big impact on your budget.