How to Save More and be Stress Free from Worry on Less Money

savemoney

The key to stress free living when it comes to money....is just save more and spend less!

This coming year is going to be a tough year for most when it comes to finances. But fear not, you can always do things to help you still live on what you have. In fact, someone once said that wealth is really just in direct proportion to how much you earn – how much you spend! So if you can find ways to spend less, then your wealth will actually increase. That’s a good thing nowadays, as we probably don’t “need” many of the things we are spending money on are just not finding the cheaper creative solutions.

Here’s some quick suggestions:

  • Enjoy more free (or cheap) things – check with local schools and community centers for musical concerts, plays or otherwise), go to the park, go hiking in the mountains, play frisbee at the beach. Plenty to do out there if you look hard enough and know what you are wanting to do. Even free movies online (see below under “cancel your cable”).
  • Eat out less – I think this is pretty obvious to most people. If you are eating out alot, you are spending alot of money. If you want to go out, try looking for coupons as most places have advertisements out there. Or just eat in more with friends and family and enjoy the lost art of cooking and the social aspect that comes with it.
  • Save gas and examine your driving habits – do you really “need” to be doing as much as you do? Are you making trips for one thing here and there? Try shopping less and make a list, so you don’t have to go back later in the week. Get all your errands done on one day if you can. Or better yet, just walk or bike more to local places.
  • Cut your own hair – I’ve been doing this since I got out of college (and there was no college barber doing cuts for $4). It may take a little practice, and yes you may mess up a few times but pretty soon you may be skilled at cutting your hair with some adjustable clippers. Or you could always have a friend/spouse cut it for you as well.
  • Don’t buy clothes that need dry cleaning – alot of people spend a ton of money on the maintenance of things around them, and clothes are included. Try getting more daily wear that doesn’t cost you a fortune to clean.
  • Buy in bulk (food, supplies, etc) – This is especially true for meats, or other deals that you can store/freeze and keep for a long time. Shop the stores when they are clearing out on meat about to go bad (which can be up to 1/2 off) and then freeze it.
  • Eat less – I know, sounds too simple right? Well the great thing about not “trying” to eat 6x a day (as we all know now that is not doing anything for the metabolism….right?) is that you aren’t wasting money on bars, shakes or other foods. You can eat big and healthy meals less often and still save money. Heck, it makes the $8 lunch special at the local buffet a bargain when I consider how much meat I can eat there. Who knows, intermittent fasting (IF) may just be able to save you some money afterall!
  • Use simple cleaning methods – like lemon and water, or baking soda and water…you don’t need a special cleaner for everything in the house. I’m no expert here but I am sure you can surf the web and find a simple cleaning solution for most everything (including using WD40 to get out stains).
  • Use generic (no-name) brands – soap, toothpaste, shampoo, detergent…bet you won’t notice the difference.
  • Buy used – on everything you can….remember when you get it from someone else it is stil “new to you”! Use the local papers, hit garage sales, the internet, craigs list, ebay…lots of places.
  • Don’t buy the latest and greatest – While we can all get sucked in by cool advertising and wanting to impress our friends, sometimes we just dont need all the bells and whistles. Take for example electronics, do you need the top of the line computer of this year….or is the top of the line computer from 2 years ago still good enough to do the job? How about TVs? Stereos? Cameras? Remember, whatever you buy now will not be the greatest in a year. So ask yourself, are you wanting to spend money all the time just to impress others….or will a model that used to be the newest be good enough?
  • Use the library -for books, magazines, music, DVDs. All the same info, at zero the cost…unless you get late fees.
  • Have a neighborhood garage sale (sell off your crap, maybe even find some hidden gems at your neighbors house…worst case you break even and have some new stuff that interests you)
  • Cancel your cable – You don’t need TV that much and 800 channels. You can use the rabbit ears (or new digital rabbit ears…which is a high def signal for free, minus the cost of the $40 box). Or watch all your shows for free online at places like Hulu or Fancast (like having TiVo for free on most all shows, plus each network has their own online shows). You can also cancel your Blockbuster account and watch some movies online…for free too!
  • Stop feeling deprived – like you need more stuff because someone else has it or you are just bored….go do something more with your life than collect items to put in a closet. Appreciate what you already have…or get rid of it.
  • Stop caring what people think – It’s amazing how much money you can save if you aren’t buying big and expensive things just to impress others. If you really like a sports car, and want it for your own personal enjoyment (and don’t go into serious debt in the process) then go ahead and buy things you enjoy. Just make sure that you are not doing or having things just to impress others. Just ask yourself before each purchase that “if no one ever knew you had something, would you still buy it?”.
  • Surround yourself with like minded people – If you are around people who are dropping 100s a night going out all the time, then chances are you will too. If you are around people who truly enjoy doing less expensive and simple things, then you will save a lot of money. Take a hard look at the people around you and see if they really reflect your own personal values and goals. Sometimes we just have to move on.
  • Pay Cash for Everything – credit spending is easy (anyone can spend $1000 without blinking an eye on a credit card), cash hurts to spend….pay in cash all the time and at least you know you are thinking hard about things.
  • Most of all, just enjoy the sense of freedom – free from expensive payments, free from caring about what the “Jones” are doing, free to just go for a hike and not the mall, free from the costs of ownership on expensive items (repair, maintenance, storage), free from the financial worries of people struggling every month to pay for everything, free to have months worth of living expenses saved up for any emergency…..be free to enjoy life (including the things you do end up buying) without all the consumer traps around you.

Of course that is just a short list. But in the end, it’s your decision when to spend money. If you want that 50″ plasma TV…then it’s your choice. But do you need the top of the line or does the lowest model really fit the bill….or do you only need a 36″model? There’s usually a big difference between want and need.

Here’s some more gems from some other bloggers and what they have to say on how to save money this year:

Turn off the television. One big way to save money is to watch less television. There are a lot of financial benefits to this: less exposure to guilt-inducing ads, more time to focus on other things in life, less electrical use, and so on. It’s great to unwind in the evening, but seek another hobby to do that.

Master the thirty day rule. Whenever you are considering making an unnecessary purchase, wait thirty days and then ask yourself if you still want that item. Quite often, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed and you’ll have saved yourself some money by simply waiting. If you want, you can even keep a thirty day list where you write down the item and the day you’ll reconsider it, but I prefer just to keep this one in my head – that way, I often just forget about the unimportant things.

Invite friends over instead of going out. Almost every activity at home is less expensive than going out. Invite some friends over and have a cookout or a potluck meal, then play some cards and have a few drinks. Everyone will have fun, the cost will be low, and the others will likely reciprocate not long afterwards.

Invest in a deep freezer. A deep freezer, after the initial investment, is a great bargain. You can use it to store all sorts of bulk foods, which enables you to pay less per pound of it at the market. Even better, you can store lots of meals prepared in advance, enabling you to just go home and pop something homemade (and cheap) in the oven.

the above are just a few tips from “100 great tips on how to save money” from The Simple Dollar blog.

Lend and borrow. Give books and clothes and toys you don’t need anymore to your friends and family. If you need something, send out an email asking if anyone has it. Chances are, they will give it to you for free if they don’t use it anymore.

Barter. It’s a lost art, but lots of people will take your services or goods instead of money, especially if you are friends or at least know each other. Get into the habit of offering to barter, and you’ll find yourself saving a lot of money. My website design was done through the barter system, so I saved well over $1,000 there, for example.

Find happiness in life, not spending. Many times people buy stuff because they think (subconsciously perhaps) that it will bring them happiness. They just HAVE to have the latest gadget or shoes or cars. It’s so fun! And yet, you buy that stuff, and you are only happy for a day or two at most. Then you just need to buy more. Its a never-ending cycle. Instead, learn to love life. Find joy in nature! In the people around you! In doing something you love! In exercise and meditation! There is so much in life to make us happy, there is no need to find it in spending.

from the article “20 Money Hacks” from Zen Habits.

photo by endlessstudio

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