1) Stop buying convenience/prepackaged drinks.
Do you stop at Sheetz to get an iced tea or soda daily? What about bottles of iced tea/lemonade/flavored water/you name it here for your house? If your drink allows, try buying powder at home and make the drink by gallon batches. Invest in a nice water bottle to transport and you’ll spend just pennies on the dollar and probably drink less because you have to make it!
2) Shop at low-cost grocery stores
I did a little experiment months ago comparing shopping at Aldi to even the generic brand at your big name grocery store. And the results were surprising to even me, being a savings of more than 40%. You can find the article here. I need to do another to compare brand name vs. generic but I can almost guarantee you’ll find similar results.
3) Stop with the paper cups, plates and baggies
They’re convenient, I get it. No dishes to wash, no dishwasher to unload but they’ll add up big time if you use one (or two or three) daily and toss after each use. We love to use reusable and dishwasher safe bento boxes and the take and toss bowls with lids to pack lunches and snacks on the go. (Hint: the take and toss are dishwasher safe and most definitely do not need to be tossed after each use!)
4) Shop in bulk and freeze or meal prep monthly
You’ll get better prices by shopping in bulk. I bought 2 1/2 lbs of 93% lean ground beef this week for $9.68. I could’ve bought just 1 lb for $4.38. So I bought bigger and made stuffed peppers, hamburgers and tacos for the week and still had burgers to freeze. Check out Costco, Sams Club or BJ’s for stores most convenient to you for dry goods in bulk. Just remember, a deal is only a deal if you’ll use it…think twice before buying a 5 year supply of yellow mustard (been there and done that). You can also consider sharing a membership or items with a friend who’s close by and share the savings.
5) Hang dry your clothes
Ok, now you’re thinking, “She’s lost her mind!” While that might be true, stay with me on this. First of all, your clothes will last longer. Line drying is gentler on fabrics and the excessive high heat and tumbling can cause strain and unnecessary wear and tear. On the money side, it can save upwards of $200-$300 depending on your dryer, the amount of clothing you do and your state. Check out this nifty calculator here to see how much you’d save this year by line drying your clothes! And lastly, if you hang them in the sun in the spring, summer and fall, they just smell nice!
6) Unplug it
I can go a lot of directions here, but staying with energy conservation and savings, did you know that the average US household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that aren’t even being used? Just for fun, I just walked around our house to count how many appliances, electronics and devices we currently have plugged in and I have to say, I was a little surprised to count 37! We don’t need almost half of those on a regular basis. Start unplugging the phone and tablet chargers when not in use, the handheld vacuum that’s always charging, the tv’s and lamps in the bonus and guest rooms you rarely use and watch your electric bill go down. If you happen to be in the market for a new appliance, if it’s Energy Star, you can receive rebates for your purchase. Check out the Energy Star website for more information.
7) Adjust your thermostat
I’m not saying to freeze it out, but if you’re wearing shorts and short sleeves in your home in the winter, put on an extra layer or two and turn the heat down 2-3 degrees. And vice versa in the summer, if you’re using blankets on the sofa, it’s time to turn it up just a bit. It’s been long debated whether it saves money or not to turn the heat down when you leave for work for the day, but I believe the final answer is yes, it does benefit you in energy savings. According to energy.gov again, the savings can be up to 10% a year by setting your thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re gone. Read more on that here.
8) Clean out your pantry at least monthly
Most of us buy a can of “this” here, because we might use it, and a can of “that” there. And yet, we all open the pantry cupboards and say, “We don’t have anything to eat!” I’m willing to bet that if you go to your pantry right now, you can come up with 3 meals off the bat. I personally know if I put effort into it, I could come up with a minimum of 5. They may not be awesome, but I know we have soup, lentils and beans and different pastas and sauces. Last spring I ran a pantry challenge for a week where I challenged everyone to cut their grocery budget in half for the week and use as many items in your pantry as possible. It was fun, we shared recipes and it was eye opening! Maybe I’ll host another coming soon!
9) Brew your coffee at home
Ok, I know this sounds obvious and it kind of goes with #1, but it’s not obvious to all. Let’s briefly talk about the latte factor. The average small cup of coffee (just coffee) is right around $2.00 in the US. Mochas and Lattes an all that jazz will run you $4.00-$5.00 on average. But just coffee, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year is $520 a year, almost $45 a month. Using the higher end coffees, just one a day is $2600 a year and $216 a month. Wowzas! I know it doesn’t seem like much on a daily basis, but what would those numbers get you? I’m pretty sure our honeymoon on an amazing cruise was less than $2600. Hellllloooo! Save up one year and buy yourself a home espresso machine and have all the fun you would like for pennies on the dollar.
10) Use cash
This will always remain my number one (or two) way to save money. If you haven’t read it yet, check out my blog on why cash envelopes are my secret to staying on budget. I challenge you to go to the ATM today and take out cash this week for what you budget (or think you spend if you don’t budget) on groceries, gas, and other miscellaneous needs during this week. For just one week give it a go and see if you can spend less and save more. According to this article and research at CMU, Stanford and MIT, spending cash actually activates pain centers in the brain. Let’s say you need $70 for groceries and $50 for gas. If you start on payday, get 6 $20 bills and absolutely have to make it until your next payday, you’ll make different decisions throughout your day with that money.
I know we’re all looking for that magic bean that makes it all easy, but the truth is that saving money takes a lot of small steps and conscious behavior changes. I read on someone’s feed yesterday, “You are not Amazon Prime. It takes more than two days to get what you want.” These 10 steps are ones that you can take right now, today to make a change in your financial life. What are you waiting for?
If you’d like more information on getting started on a budget, getting out of debt, learning how to save money and creating a financial plan to build wealth, click here to set up your FREE discovery call and let me show you how I can help!