You work hard for your money so why not keep it? Nothing is more frustrating than working hard all week just to have nothing to spend on the weekends or even worse, having to sit at home on vacation. Try these simple tips to help gain back your financial independence.
1. Educate yourself. Use a spreadsheet with your monthly finances to find money. Look closely at where your money has been going the last few months and seek patterns. Are you spending a lot more money on morning coffee than you want to? Try investing in a good coffee maker for your kitchen and brew your own coffee in the morning. After the initial coffee maker purchase you will save money in the long run and it will save you time on your way to the office. Just by adding up what you’re spending and where you’re spending it each month will help you make better decisions about the purchases you make. My husband and I never thought twice about hitting our favorite coffee shop on the way to work each morning until we did a spreadsheet. We had no idea that we were spending at least $90.00 a month on coffee. By educating ourselves about our finances we were able to cut that down to $20.00 a month by brewing our own!
2. Keep your change. Instead of spending your change, make a habit of putting it all in a special jar or “piggy bank” at home. When you want to go to a movie one weekend or splurge on a new outfit but don’t think you have the cash, turn to your rainy day change fund and relish in your hard saved change. You will be surprised how quickly your change adds up. Want to go on a family vacation next summer but don’t think you can afford it? Try having everyone in the family contribute their change to a “vacation jar.” Your family will enjoy pitching in and your children will learn valuable lessons in saving money and enjoying the reward.
3. Join the club! A warehouse club that is. If you plan it right and pay attention to prices, you can save money by buying in bulk. Don’t have enough room to store 200 juice boxes for school? Find another family in your neighborhood and split the bill. One major complaint that people have about their warehouse club is that when you are forced to buy in large packages, food can spoil before it’s eaten, or they just don’t have the room. Shopping with another family is fun and cost effective.
4. Be a host! Like to go out with your friends for a good time? Sure, everyone does, but no one likes getting the bill at the end of the night. Going out to eat and have a few drinks can really put the strain on your wallet. Try going to the grocery store and purchasing food and drinks that can be made at home (some food and beverages that you find at chain restaurants are now being packaged for grocery stores) and inviting everyone over. Yes it can be expensive to play the host every time, but if you take turns going to friends houses you can keep the cost down and still have a good time while enjoying the same food and drinks.
5. Plan your groceries. Grocery shopping can be dangerous in many ways. One way is to go shopping when you are hungry. Think about it, when you are hungry and want something to eat, you are more likely to put everything in your cart that you just don’t need. If you go shopping after dinner, you are less likely to grab things on impulse. Impulse shopping brings us to the next point. Make a list (and check it twice!) Plan out your meals for the coming week and list all the ingredients you need at the store. This will prevent you from getting to the store and wondering if you need more boxes of cereal when you have ten already. It will also keep you from buying ten days worth of meals when you only need seven.
Saving money can be easy and even fun when you see how much you are able to save when you simply watch where your money goes. Start by educating yourself and your family as to where the money goes every month and then set goals. Make games out of saving your change and look forward to the reward. Being frugal with your hard earned cash may not seem like something you want to do but it sure beats being broke!