No one likes to think about budgeting, but the cold hard truth is that if you aren't proactive and intentional with your spending, you will never reach your personal finance goals.
You might not take it seriously, but you don't want to be the friend bumming money off everyone each time you go out. Not only does that scream, "Get your life together, buddy," but it will also eventually get you out of the invites altogether.
So to help you save some cash and maintain your awesome relationships, we've compiled some money hacks and money-saving tips.
And while none of our tips are going to save you a ton of money on their own, each of our money hacks will adds up a little over time.
Frugal Living Isn't A Death Sentence
Before we get into our life hacks, it's important to clear the air. Frugal living isn't a death sentence for your social life or will to live.
In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Money is a leading cause of stress for many of us. And in a survey conducted earlier this year, 72% of Americans indicated they felt stress about money.
Money problems contribute not only individual stress, but also family tensions. A survey by Ramsey Solutions has declared that financial tensions were the 2nd leading cause of divorce, second only to infidelity.
Those unhappy statistics might be the reason so many of us are reaching towards a minimalist lifestyle that replaces a big house full of stuff with purposeful and intentional homes.
And it's no question that people who make the switch to less have experienced more joy in their everyday lives.
So if financial stress is bringing down your quality of life, you owe it to yourself to get your budget under control.
Have An Emergency Fund In Place
Money guru Dave Ramsey recommends starting an emergency fund as your very first step to get control of your money. And we agree.
Not only will some extra money come in handy during an emergency, but it will also help you build the confidence you need to make the right choice when hard decisions come up.
Look, we all know the feeling of wanting what we can't have. But it turns out that feeling is a real phenomenon. And once you can actually get what you want, you are less inclined to blow your savings on it.
Empowered money management starts with planning. And you can't plan without an emergency fund.
So, set up a savings account and start stashing some cash away already. It doesn't have to be half your paycheck. In fact, if you are new to saving, you have full permission to ease into it. Ramsey suggests building up to $1,000 before you move onto reaching other financial goals.
If you have a hard time staying motivated, Chloe Daniels, financial coach and founder of Clobare.com, recommends that you change the name of your savings categories into something that gets you excited. For example, maybe "Peace of Mind" or "Financial Freedom" might be a better name. "Then, when you dump your money into these accounts, it feels good because you know you're not just arbitrarily saving money and depriving yourself. Instead, you're saying yes to what you truly want."
You won't regret having some savings, and your social network will be glad to have you stop coming to them every time you need new tires or your water heater goes out.
Create A Goal
Financial goals aren't just for goal-oriented people. (Although my fellow results-driven people may have a leg-up.)
Unlike training for a marathon, your financial goals can be something you are super excited about. And if running a marathon fills your heart with incandescent joy, more power to you. That's just not the world I'm living in.
Some things that get me excited?
Saving up for a vacation. Buying a Joybird couch. Going to visit friends in other states. Being able to sponsor small businesses and give to movements I'm passionate about. Daniels recommends everyone gets clear on their goals early on. She adds, "know your 'why' for why you even want to begin saving in the first place — and make it as sexy as possible to keep you motivated in the times where you really want to throw in the towel."
And while the thought of saving 3-6 months of income doesn't quite get my heart pumping, it's an important step so that I'm not heaping on stress in the middle of a global pandemic.
Like all goals, excitement will come as you gain momentum. So start with smaller goals (like pay off those glasses you had to finance or save enough to take your dog in for a routine checkup) and work your way up to bigger goals like new furniture, vacations and financial freedom.
Hacks To Save Money At The Grocery Store
If you're anything like me, groceries are the biggest budget-breaker in my home. I chalk it up to my love of feeding anyone at the drop of a hat and eating wholesome food that actually nourishes the body.
But the reality is that there is a way to stock your pantry without breaking your budget (and avoid those awkward budget meetings with your spouse.) So do as I say, not as I do with these hacks that will make your grocery shopping a little more affordable.
Avoid the Name Brands
Okay, first and foremost, I'm a huge advocate that you generally get what you pay for — and food is no exception.
So while you can often save money by shopping with store brands, it's important to look at ingredients. Sure buying a generic version of maple syrup can save you money, but it's also going to be chalk full of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other additives.
Keeping an eye out on store brands that match with your family's food preferences may take some time, but once you find a great substitute, you are likely to remember it, use it and save money every time you buy it.
I have a love-hate relationship with meal planning. I know that some moms out there are great at planning out their entire month's worth of meals, making a detailed grocery list and packing away every ingredient perfectly so it's never wasted.
If that's you, I seriously applaud you.
I'm one of those does-this-still-smell-okay? And cereal-for-dinner moms.
And if you're like me, let me tell you about Imperfect Foods. I get to shop for fresh (and mostly organic) fruits and veggies without having to scour the aisles and checkout at a traditional grocery store. And because this produce is imperfect, I save it from sitting in the landfill and do my part to reduce food waste.
Another plus? I can snack while I shop, so I don't have to worry about stuffing my cart because I'm hungry and I don't have little hands begging me for a water bottle and donut every time. (Win.)
But even if you don't use Imperfect foods, creating a basic meal plan can seriously help keep you from spending money on your credit card every time your family gets hungry.
I've never used it personally, but rumor has it that Ibotta is a great way to get some free money towards your grocery bill each month.
Retailers partner with Ibotta to give you cash back on qualifying items. Simply submit your receipt through your smartphone and your savings will go right to your bank account.
Remember how important meal planning is in regards to your budget? You can browse eligible items before going to the store, so you know exactly what you are looking for. Unfortunately, a printable list option is not available yet. But consumers have been crying out for such a feature, so hopefully it isn't too far out of reach.
Ibotta perks are limited to grocery stores, either. You can also score some benefits when shopping for your pet supplies and electronics.
Cars are expensive — it's just the way it is. Between finance plans, insurance and car repairs, the cost can really add up. Don't believe me? In 2018, Americans spent an average of $523 each month on car payments. And you can bet that number hasn't gone down.
But luckily, even if you are joining the debt-free movement, you don't have to sell your car and stick to biking everywhere. (Although we do have some great options if that's your thing.)
Here are a few auto-related hacks to help you save more money.
Insurance policies are confusing, but you don't have to be an insurance wizard to make sure you are getting the best rate possible.
All it usually takes is a few phone calls to get some quotes. Usually, getting a clear scope of what is on your first quote is sufficient to help you compare policies.
If that sounds a little overwhelming, you can also seek out an independent insurance company. Rather than writing for a single carrier like Allstate or State Farm, independent agencies write for several companies and can therefore get you into the company that is best.
They shop around to find you the best price so you don't have to. Let's all heave a big sigh of relief.
Another way to save on your auto insurance? Bundle with a homeowners policy for a sweet discount. Many companies also provide multi-policy discounts for renters policies as well.
Once you get a policy, don't forget to ask for annual reviews. Your agent should be looking at your policy each year to make sure you still have the right coverage and best rate possible. Good agents will offer that automatically. But things get busy and sometimes even the best agents forget. So if yours doesn't bring it up, make sure you ask for it directly.
Cars lose about 9-11% of their value the second you drive it off the lot. That's a pretty penny to pay just to be able to say you got it new.
You can often find similar makes and models in like-new conditions at your local dealer or online. They might not offer up the used models right away, but salesmen are usually just happy to help make a sale, even if it comes from a used vehicle.
You may also find some savings from leasing a vehicle. While leasing a vehicle isn't for everyone, it can help reduce your overhead costs and keep you from costly repairs.
Much like buying a new-to-you vehicle, you can also negotiate your car lease and may find that you qualify for a better interest rate this way.
Want to add some cushion to your auto budget with an easy, fool-proof way? Drive less.
Whether that means taking a bus, walking or joining a carpool service (or tagging up with friends), fewer miles on your car will also coincide with lower gas and repair bills.
Other perks of driving less include lower carbon footprints, no stressful commutes and enjoying extra time with some friends.
Take a Look at Your Subscriptions
We have entered the age of subscriptions. And while subscription boxes are a great way to get a special treat delivered to your door each month, it is all-too-easy to get caught up in the world of automatic payments.
If you aren't careful, the $640 Americans spent on subscriptions in 2019 can easily grow into an alarming number that breaks your budget each and every month.
So if you find yourself constantly reconciling subscriptions that you thought about, it is time to do an inventory.
Now that you have everything listed out in front of you, you are ready to start making substitutions and finding some savings.
Maybe you take advantage of your cell phone plan and see if a streaming service is included. For example, Verizon offers plans that include Disney + so you don't have to navigate multiple subscriptions.
If you have an Amazon prime account, you may choose to cancel your other streaming services and stick with the rotating prime titles. Sure, they might not be as exciting as the titles offered on other platforms, but they're included. And you're on a budget.
Save your favorite titles for an in-home date night and put your savings toward your next vacation.
Money-Saving Hacks For The Ladies
Women are used to spending a lot of money on period care products every month. And not only does that lead to a tremendous amount of waste, but it also requires some serious dough. The average woman will spend over $18,000 on period products throughout her lifetime. Broken down by common menstruating years, that number becomes over $400 a year.
Switching to a menstrual cup from Saalt, will reduce that number drastically and keep you clear from hormone-disrupting toxins that are hidden in tampons.
You may also find that supplementing your protection with period panties is a great way to save some bucks. While it's a bit of an investment upfront, you can expect savings in the long run.
But the best part of owning sustainable menstrual products? You never have to make last-minute trips to the store to pick up supplies. We all know that those trips are never good for our wallet.
If you love the idea of sustainable period products but just can’t get behind a cup, Cora delivers organic tampons and other period products so you can still get quality on a budget.
Saving money and reaching your goals doesn’t happen overnight, and generally doesn’t happen quickly. But with some patience, dedication and a look over the small things, you have what it takes to take control of your budget.
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