Hello, lovelies! It’s time for another finance post. I thought I would share with you some tips I have discovered during my twenties that have really helped save me some money over the years. If you’d like to see more finance posts, leave a comment down below and I will be sure to write more on this subject.
Without further delay, let’s jump right into it.
Unsubscribe from coupon emails
Out of sight, out of mind. Having those email coupons inundate your inbox can make even the strongest wills break. Just like that old trick of freezing your credit card so you don’t use it, people have gone through very drastic steps to avoid overspending. This is one of the easiest steps to take. If you can’t see the new cool things being released by your favorite brands, you won’t be tempted to break budget and splurge. This goes for clothing stores, amazon, kindle, music releases, etc. Unsubscribing will leave your inbox cleaner, and your mind happily oblivious to the new trends in consumerism.
Cash back only works if you pay off your card each month
It might be really tempting to assume, “oh, well I can just put this on my credit card. I’m getting cash back on all my purchases, after all.” Wrong. Unless you consecutively pay your card down to zero at the end of the month, that cash back is pennies compared to the interest you are being charged by having a balance left on your card, and can actually end up costing you money. You might think you are saving money by using your card more, but unless you are paying it off each month, that money back bribery is costing you more. So you might have $16 of cash back and think, “Alright! I’m getting cash back!” but if you take the time to read your bill, you may find that your monthly interest cost for that month is $32, leaving you paying $16 more. If, however, you are one of those people who is consistent with paying off your card, that cash back is indeed beneficial.
Create a budget
Creating a budget is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself if you are trying to save money. A lot of people have no idea what’s going on with their finances, or leave the finances up to their partner. While it might be nice not to have to worry about money every second of the day, by avoiding the problem, you are often only making it worse. If you know you are currently having money issues, the only thing there is to do is to look into the problem and find out why. Just like looking under a bandaid at a nasty cut, no one wants to do it, but if you leave it, the problem could become much worse. The first step to correcting your financial troubles is to get control of them, and by control, I mean you should know where every single penny that comes into your pocket is going. You can find out more about creating a budget in my post, How to Budget in Your Twenties.
Cancel subscriptions you don’t really need
Are you one of those people who is subscribed to every internet platform possible? Maybe you have a YoutubeRed account, an 8Tracks account, you are paying for a domain, and Amazon Prime too. Oh, and let’s not forget netflix. All those monthly subscriptions can add up. Ask yourself if you really need to be subscribed to all those things. Sit down and figure out which ones can be eliminated, and then take the steps to cancel those expenses.
Do more home cooking
Eating out can be extremely expensive, especially if it includes alcoholic beverages. This is another category where, if you don’t keep track of your spending, can end up getting out of control fast. You can still enjoy the occasional dinner out (alcoholic beverages included), but another suggestion is to try your hand at more home cooking. By buying discount food items at the store and preparing the food at home, you can end up saving a ton of money. Not only can you make delicious meals to your liking, but you can hone your cooking skills too. There are a ton of youtube videos that discuss buying weekly or monthly groceries for a certain budget, and shows you how to prepare your ingredients if you are unsure how to cook them.
Are you and a friend going to the same place? It would be silly to spend two trips worth of gas when you could ride together for one. Switch it up weekly so that the cost of gas is evenly distributed between the group. It’ll give you more time to chat with them, and save you money at the same time. Make sure your friends don’t abuse this system, though, by making you drive every time.
If you do find yourself out at a store, whether for clothes or food, by shopping sales you can end up saving more money than you would think. So you’ve unsubscribed from those clothing store coupons, but you know there’s a sale coming up at the end of the month. Stores usually post sales for major holidays and semi annually. If you are familiar with these schedules, it’s easy to plan your shopping days when you know there will be a sale going on. When you go into the store, be sure to start your shopping trip at the back near the clearance items. This is a great way to find cheaper clothing first, and if you don’t find anything you like, then you can browse the newer collection.
When I was growing up, I remember going to the grocery store with my mother and watching her pull out her divided wallet of coupons. She already had a stack together based on what she knew she would buy, and she handed that over to the cashier. It can be tedious finding coupons, but when you’re really pinched for cash, just remember that this option is always available. It might not save you a ton of money, but if you are doing a big shopping trip, it’s one of those things that can add up to quite a savings.
Avoid late fees
These things are so annoying and they always make me so angry. If you are late paying a bill–or worse, overdraw your account–they charge you a fee. Usually this fee is quite a lot of money, upwards of $30. Now, if you are late paying a bill or overdraw your account, chances are you didn’t have the money to begin with. So what do they do? Charge you more. Luckily I pay enough attention to my account balances and bills that this rarely happens for me, but it can be a pain when it does happen. No one ever expects it, and the additional fee can really throw a wrench in things. Again, the best way to avoid this is to stick to budget and make sure you know where your money is going.
Use your library
The library isn’t just for books. You can find lots of stuff there, including free internet, magazines, movies, and cds. Best of all, a library card is free. If you find yourself short on cash, but still want to enjoy a recreational past time like reading or watching movies, check them out of your library. As long as you return them within the certain amount of time, it’s all free. You can read classics all the way to modern publications if you time it right, and their selection of movies is pretty broad too. If your local library doesn’t have what you are looking for, there are always other branches you can travel to in order to find what you want. I personally love libraries and the quite spaces you can find in the corners amidst the books. It’s great for reading, studying, browsing the internet, or socializing. In fact, most libraries these days double as a community center. You can find cheap or free classes depending on where you live. For example, the Pittsburgh Carnegie library offers free language classes! How cool is that?
Make your morning coffee at home
Starbucks are on every block these days, and it’s so tempting to stop by one on your way to work, but just like everything else, morning coffees can add up. If you are someone who needs the caffeine to function, consider preparing your own coffee at home. By buying in bulk from the grocery store, you can save some extra cash, and it doesn’t take that long to brew a fresh pot or cup. Kurig’s can get expensive, but if you stick to grounds or whole beans, you can use as much or as little as you want, making it last as long as you want too.
Know when to keep or throw away groceries
How many times have you gone to the store, bought kale, spinach, and limes with every intention of using them, but at the end of the month find yourself always throwing them away because they’ve spoiled? This happens more often than I’d like to admit. If you know you really aren’t going to use quickly perishable items, why buy them in the first place? Shop intentionally. If you have a recipe that calls for fresh vegetables, then by all means buy them and use them, but don’t just go through the store picking up things randomly if you have no idea what you’re going to use them for. They’re just going to sit in your fridge until you clean it out and throw them away. Conversely, there are also people who don’t know when to throw their produce or meats away, and end up throwing away perfectly good food. Do some research as to the shelf life of the foods you buy so you can better determine what is spoiled and what isn’t.
Save a small percentage each paycheck
This is one of those points that usually gets a lot of shit thrown at it from people who argue “If I’m broke, do you really think I’m saving anything?” Well you should be! Even if it’s five dollars per pay, over time that builds up to quite a savings. Everyone should have a small savings amount for emergencies so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay for something serious like a doctor’s or dentist’s visit. And yes, this might mean that you have to take that money away from an area like “eating out”, but that’s just called prioritizing. As a twenty-something, you should be old enough to know that sometimes you have to forgo the fun things in order to make sure the important things are taken care of.
Skip the gym
Gyms are expensive. You know what’s cheaper? Not going to the gym. There are ways to exercise without one. If you like your cardio, you can go running at a local park. If you’re more on the slower side of things, you can buy a set of weights at someplace as simple as walmart, and while it does cost something to invest in weights, it’ll be a lot cheaper than paying a monthly bill to a gym. And if you are one of those people who like the social aspect of the gym, there are ways around that too. There are plenty of apps these days that allow you to connect with others during your workout challenges. Fitocracy and Sparkpeople are just a couple of the free apps that I have used in the past. You can get motivated, add friends, and share your progress with people just like you. My favorite free forms of working out are doing yoga along with Yoga With Adrienne’s videos on youtube and going walking at my local park.
Thrift or buy used
That song doesn’t lie. It really does cost $50 for a t-shirt depending where you shop. Buying new clothes from the brandname stores can get pricey. One of my favorite stores is Torrid, and I can only afford to shop there sporadically because they are so dang expensive. What alternatives are there? You can check your local thrift stores for gently used clothes, or check sites like ebay. One of my favorite youtubers, Kiera Rose, always posts thrift-haul videos where she shows the super cute clothes she found for two or three dollars at her local thrift stores. If you travel to thrift stores where you know rich people live, you are more likely to find better clothes. I once found a real fur coat by traveling to a thrift store in the Latrobe area, where there is a small population of rich folks. Thrifting can be very time and energy consuming, so I suggest you go when you are in a shopping mood and not looking for anything specific, because you probably won’t find it. But thrifting is good for when you want some new clothes without breaking your budget.
Keep track of donations so you can claim them on your taxes
If you sort through your clothes and end up getting rid of four garbage bags worth of stuff, you can write that off on your taxes. If you get rid of furniture or baby items, you can write that off on your taxes. Of course, we’re talking pennies here, but hey, if you really want to take advantage of your government benefits, this is totally an option. The more you give away, the more you can claim. This also counts for monetary donations for charity.
Turn off electronics you are not using
Again, we are talking pennies, but I wanted to include this one because how many times have you walk out of a room without turning off the light? How many of you leave your chargers plugged into your phone or computer? Even though the cost is marginal, by being vigilant of how much electricity you are using, you can be more conservative with your bills. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Take faster showers. These are all things you can do to ensure your apartment bills are at least a few dollars cheaper. I mean, if you really want to be that nit-picky.
That’s it for this post! Do you have any suggestions for saving money? I’d love to hear from you!
Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!