How can I save more money?

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Personal Finance on May 22, 2016

I want to save more money. I’m already doing the pay yourself first strategy, and trying to spend less eating out and bringing meals to work that I cooked at home. But I’m looking for more ways.

Answer:

First, don’t look at it as deprivation. Instead, look for all the amazing things you can do with little or no money. Or, see it as a game to save money, and have fun doing it. If it’s a chore, either you’ll never get there, or you’ll hate where you’re going, every step of the way.

You don’t have to figure out everything all at once. Start with the easy stuff. You can make coffee at home or start carrying your own water in a container you probably already have around. Instant savings, no skill required.

Use abundant, free information for all it’s worth. If you asked this question, you’re online. With any luck, you also have a good public library near your home. There’s almost nothing that can’t be done with a little determination and one or both of these tickets to free access to the world’s knowledge.

I make extensive use of a couple local library cards and a home Internet connection. I’d have a tough time putting a value on either. Certainly I’ve saved the cost of hundreds of books over the years, some better than others, and saved on entertainment (see below). I’ve also learned a ton about subjects ranging from managing my personal finances and buying a house, to maintaining my house, bike, car, etc. I’ve learned productivity and creativity hacks, discovered my interests, upgraded my professional skills, applied for jobs and raises, and dealt with a range of personal business.

Find entertainment that saves or even earns money. First and foremost, find better things to do for entertainment than shop. If nothing else, shopping really isn’t that entertaining.

I learned to crochet a few years back, after inheriting hooks from my grandmother. Yarn and thread are abundant and cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. A few bucks worth of string can keep me amused for more hours than one rented movie, and often results in a useful object, garment, or gift that saves money.

I also bike to work, weather and hours-of-daylight permitting. I happily bike past a gym I don’t need to belong to, and over and around sluggish traffic I don’t have to sit in.

Do it yourself. I enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and the satisfaction of accomplishing tasks. Among the things I’ve gotten pretty good at: basic plumbing, interior painting, sewing, bike maintenance, baking, cooking. I’m still working on gardening, and I think I’d like to learn and improve basic construction skills (I’d like to build a deck or patio and repair some fences) and maybe learn about building PCs. Here again, I see it as both entertainment and expense avoidance. Occasionally also exercise.

Many things that save money are also kinder to the environment.

Reduce waste. The things you don’t buy will always be cheaper than the best bargains. Take a glance in your trash cans, sometime before you take them out. That’s waste in its truest sense. Are there single-use disposable items in there? Would it be so tough to avoid some of them? Substitute reusable things for disposable things whenever you see the opportunity.

I aim for a waste-free lunch box, too, and, besides not having to fiddle with plastic forks breaking, I think I eat better as a result, because I don’t take boxed dinners or get takeout very often. Instead, I make up a largish batch of something (soup, casserole, stir-fry, etc.) once or twice a week. And since I’d rather avoid waste at home, too, I buy mostly fresh, whole, simple ingredients. I even bring home peels, cores, and stems to compost.

Definitely take a good look at what sorts of things you sell at a garage sale or haul off to charity. These are also waste. Why did you buy that stuff? Could you have done without it in the first place? Know your tastes and avoid needless purchases next time. (If you’ve lost weight, or kids are outgrowing stuff, congratulations.)

Save energy and water. The most energy efficient appliance is one that is turned off when not in use. Costs nothing. No upgrade needed. No particular sacrifice, either. There’s loads written on this subject already, but your utility bill is one of those recurring expenses that adds up big, over time. Take a look at it, invoke your library card or search engine if you need help figuring out ways to save, and challenge yourself to do a little better next month. Oh, and try air-drying your clothes and dishes. It’s the cheapest way to start taking advantage of solar energy.

And last but certainly not least:

Value yourself, your family, your friends, and your community, not your money. It will save you all sorts of dough if you don’t have to have the latest-and-greatest, or the shiniest car on the block, or otherwise feel the need to spend money just for the sake of showing you’ve got it.

There are unselfish reasons, too, for saving money, such as being kinder to the environment, and having the resources (monetary or knowledge) to help others rather than to rely on them. Find your reasons and you need not struggle.




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