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Contributing Writer Recipes

11 Smart Ways to Save Money

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We’d all like to have a little more cash in our bank accounts, but when it comes to getting it, we usually look at our salaries, and wonder how we can get it bumped up a little. While there are ways to get a raise — and is, indeed, recommended to ask at certain points — it is not actually the best method. The best way is to reduce the amount that you spend. It’s much easier to keep the money that you have, rather than trying to find more of it. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at a bunch of ways you can save your cash — and the good news is that none of them will lead to a lifestyle that’s less fun or enjoyable than it is now. 

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Happy at Home

People who are content to stay in their house, rather than go out, end up spending less cash than those people who are forever out on the town. Just think about how much money you spend when you’re outside, compared to when you stay in (which is effectively free). This isn’t to say that you should stay in all the time, but just acknowledges that it’s a problem if you have to go out because you’re bored in the house. So look at investing in your property a little. You’ll be more inclined to stay in and watch movies if you have comfortable seating and high-tech entertainment options. 

Cut the Cord

But talking of entertainment options, it’s important that you avoid going overboard. You’ll want to have some options, but you’ll end up spending a small fortune if you have a comprehensive cable package and subscriptions for all the online streaming sites. So instead of blindly subscribing to everything, think about what you really want to watch (and how often), and pick a budget-friendly option. It would be cool to have access to every channel, but the reality is that in those circumstances you’re paying for a lot of stuff that you will never watch. 

The Right Packages

And your entertainment packages isn’t the only monthly bill that you should take another look at. Are you paying too much for your internet and cell phone packages, for instance? If you blindly took the first deal that you came across, then the answer is probably yes. Many people end up using nowhere near the full potential of their internet and cell phone allowance. Instead of paying for expensive phone coverage, look at smarty PAYG instead; with that, you’ll only pay for the data that you use. For your home internet, look at your actual needs — some people overpay because they want the fastest internet, but if you’re just browsing the web and streaming videos, then it’s probably not worth it. By scaling down a little, you could end up saving 30% or more on your monthly bill. 

Daily Expenses

Many people are pretty good at keeping those big expenses under control, but then take their eye off the ball when it comes to the daily expenses that can quickly add up to a pretty penny when multiplied by a few weeks, and into a fortune when multiplied by years. You’d always think twice about signing up for a subscription that costs you $100 a month, yet many people routinely spend that amount of money on takeout coffee each month and don’t even think about it. And that’s just coffee — if you add takeout lunch into the equation, that amount can double. And the most amazing thing of all: people aren’t even aware that they’re spending this cash. Get a snapshot of where your money is going, and you might be surprised at how much these relatively inexpensive daily expenses add up to. Challenge yourself to limit those costs for a month, and your bank balance will look much healthier.

Going Out

We talked earlier about setting up your home so that you can have a good time without spending the money that’s always needed when you go out on the town. But no matter how great your property is, there’ll be times when you just want to venture out with your friends and have a good time. If you’re not thinking about the correct approach to these nights in, then you could reasonably spend much more than you’d like: enough to undo the progress you’ve made elsewhere, in fact. You don’t need to spend a ton of cash to have fun out on the town! If you want to enjoy a meal with your loved ones, look at going for lunch rather than dinner — it’ll be around 30% cheaper. And it’s always worthwhile keeping your eye out for the cheapest bars in the area/ones that have promotional deals. 

Having Fun

Ever wake up and have a hankering for a day of fun? Sure you do, we all do. Alas, most fun things cost money, right? Well, not really. While it’s more than possible to blaze through some cash when you’re having a good time, it’s not as if it’s a prerequisite. It costs little to visit a local state park, for example, and they can be just as enjoyable as anything that you would pay large amounts of money to do. In the city, it’s worthwhile finding a good website/magazine that lists all the goings-on around town. Even small cities usually have a long list of free events and activities to do, especially during the spring and summer. 

On Your Travels

People seem to think that traveling is an inherently expensive activity, but this is not the case. There are plenty of ways to keep costs to a minimum. The main things that influence how much you’ll spend will be where you go, when you’re going, and what you’re happy to do when you’re there. You’ll spend a lot more in Paris during the height of summer, than you would in Prague during early spring, for example; and you could reasonably argue that visiting Prague would be even more fun. Other good tips include avoiding any overly touristy areas of a city, and booking accommodation with a kitchen; you’ll save a fortune if you can avoid eating every meal in a restaurant. 

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Shopping Finds

You can’t avoid spending money; you can only hope to make smart decisions when it comes to your purchases. Take buying items such as clothes, tech, home products, and so on. There are just certain things that you’ll need if you’re going to enjoy your home and be a functioning member of society. But it doesn’t have to cost you the earth! Instead, look at waiting for sales, conducting research to find the best deals, and buying second-hand. There’s no reason to pay full price for anything, ever. 

Write a Shopping List

A significant portion of your monthly budget will go on food shopping. But if you’re not writing a list and making conscious decisions when you’re in the supermarket, then you’re almost certainly spending more money than you need to. For one, we’re terrible at making shopping decisions when we’re in the store. Second, we always underrate the genius of supermarkets. They carefully position products to make them more appealing to customers, hence why you probably always leave with items that you didn’t intend to buy. Even the brand of product influences how much you spend — could you switch to a less famous but equally good brand for some of your items? Surely. 

Getting From A to B

There are some expenses that are unavoidable. You can avoid buying a coffee each day, sure, but you can’t avoid paying to get to work. However, as with most things, there are ways to reduce the amount of money that you spend on getting from A to B. Is it cheaper to drive some of the way, then use public transport the rest? If there are toll roads and expensive parking waiting for you in the city, then the answer will be yes. You can also save money by changing your driving style to help reduce your MPG (miles per gallon), which will create longer gaps between trips to the gas pump. 

Remember to Stay Disciplined! 
Finally, remember that the number one thing that influences how much money you save will be your discipline. That you can save money in virtually all areas of your life is not the hard part; the difficulty lies in actually doing it. You have all the information you need, but can you overcome the desire to, say, go to an expensive restaurant rather than preparing a meal yourself? A good way to practice discipline is to break it into small chunks. Don’t plan to live frugally for the rest of your life. Just try it for one month. It’ll be easy to achieve when you know it’s only a matter of weeks, but when you see how much money you’ve saved, you’ll likely be inspired to keep the frugal train rolling for a little longer.

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