You’ve tried cutting coupons, shopping clearance, and giving up your name-brand wardrobe but you’re still looking for ways to save. Here are 10 ideas (or challenges) to help you save even more money. I dare you to try them!
1) Don’t buy yourself anything “extra” for a defined period of time.
You choose what you want to give up (think clothes, coffee, pedicures, music, etc.) and how long you think you can last. For an easier challenge, pick something that you only buy a couple of times a week. But remember, the harder it is for you to give up, the more money you’re likely to save by living without it! (I’m trying to give up buying new clothes for a year. Aside from saving tons of money, I’m finding creative ways to mix and match my current wardrobe.) For a little accountability, challenge a friend to try this too!
2) Keep a list of “pre-approved” purchases.
Simply make a list of things you really need or want to buy, and edit it periodically if your needs change. (It’s just like a grocery list, but it’s only for extra purchases like home decor, jewelry, clothes, etc.) When the impulse to shop hits you, limit yourself to only the items on that list. This simple tip will give you time to research purchases ahead of time to find the best deals and will save you from costly impulse buys. Plus, you’ll cut the clutter by only buying what you know you’ll use. In rare cases, opt for so-called same-day payday loans from ElcLoans or similar websites if you are short of cash and need to buy something really urgent. But remember to borrow only what you are able to pay back on time.
3) Be careful of sales.
Yes, I meant to say that. We are so programmed to think that sales will save us money that we sometimes spend more on them. For one, we tend to buy larger quantities of things on sale even if we won’t use the extra. You might buy four sets of linens at half price, even though you know you’ll only ever use two sets. We also tend to compromise what we really want if we see something on sale. You’ll probably buy a pair of discount pants even if it isn’t really the color you wanted or doesn’t fit you well. Consequently, you never wear them and will end up paying full price for what you really want anyway. Finally, don’t get caught up in percentages. You may think $200 is an excessive price for a necklace, but if it’s $200 at 50% off it suddenly seems more attractive. Sales will only save you money if you’re a careful shopper.
4) Plan to treat yourself.
This may sound counterproductive, but planning a day to pamper yourself every so often can prevent you from splurging all the time. If you absolutely love Starbucks coffee, eating out with a spouse, or an occasional pedicure then put it in your calendar! This way you don’t actually have to eliminate the things you love, and you may find that you appreciate them more when you have them a little less often!
5) Save money on gifts.
Birthday parties, holiday celebrations, weddings, and showers: So many of our celebrations revolve around gift-giving. But while gifts can be an appropriate way to show someone you care, they shouldn’t be a reason to spend more than you can afford. First, you can find a lot of good quality gifts at discount prices if you shop at places like “TJ Maxx” or “Marshalls”. They usually have discounts on name brand items, from children’s toys and clothes to perfume and home decor. Also, consider putting together your own gift basket. You can buy a few small things that you know a friend will love, and the sum total will give the feel of a large gift. Finally, for “secret Santas” or other gift swap parties, consider re-gifting an old present that you never ended up using.
6) Take stock before you shop.
Basically, make sure that you’re not buying something new that serves the same function as an item you already own. We have closets, and basements, and sometimes entire storage units full of things that we don’t need every day. However, when things are out of sight we can forget we have them and wind up buying doubles of things we have at home. Also, when contemplating a purchase, consider whether something you own would be an appropriate substitute: can you use an old cookie jar for a cute indoor flower pot? Could you use a small fan instead of buying a more expensive noise-machine? The more creative you can be, the more money you can save!
7) Don’t be afraid to borrow things.
Most of us are guilty of splurging on items that we can only use once or twice a year– like those too-high heels for a special evening out, or perhaps an expensive electric tool. If you have family or even friends that you don’t mind borrowing from, ask if you can raid their closet or garage before your next purchase. (Tell them they can share some of your little-used items as well.) Your pride may take a hit but your wallet certainly won’t. Also, don’t be afraid to borrow money, especially in the form of online payday loans, which is a common practice nowadays.
8) Finish what you start.
If you have a drawer full of half-used make-up or lotion, then challenge yourself to finish the old before you buy anything new. You’ll save money while you wait, and you’ll probably think through your next purchase a little more thoroughly if you know it is going to last you a while.
9) Beware of the little things.
Most of us take our time before making major purchases, like a house, flat screen TV, or new furniture. However, when it comes to buying little things like coffee, vending machine snacks, DVDs, etc. we don’t notice the money slip away. Try this: consider how much money you could save by making your own coffee in the morning, or buying a bag of potato chips and bagging a serving size yourself, or using a movie service like “Netflix” instead of buying new movies. You may find that you save at least a dollar a day- and I’m sure we could all do something fun with 365 extra bucks.
10) Choose paper over plastic.
You may have heard this idea before, but we tend to spend more in a world where we can swipe a credit card instead of physically parting with our hard-earned cash. Decide to take out a certain amount of cash each week, or after each payday, and stop spending when the cash runs out. You’ll save money and ensure that you don’t spend more than you make. If you find yourself with extra cash at the end of the month, consider setting up a savings account to stash your cash away for later.