When it comes to finding ways to save money, the real key is to get creative. Once you have taken the natural steps toward watching your spending such as creating a budget and cutting back on small luxury “treat” splurges, it’s time to take inventory of your true needs and priorities. As you start to live with “less”, you will be surprised at how much lighter you feel and how you do not feel deprived. As long as you are still meeting your needs, you can find creative ways to change your spending habits that have a big impact on long term savings.
Cut the Cable
Although it may seem hard at first (and may take some serious convincing for some members of your household) you can truly go on without cable TV and even still watch many of your favorite shows without it. If you are already paying for Internet, you can watch many shows and movies there on sites such as Hulu as well as sign up for an inexpensive Netflix subscription. Depending on your area, getting rid of cable might save an average of $50 a month. That is $600 a year!
Replace Disposable With Reusable
Anything that is a recurring cost that you can cut out will end up bringing you savings in the long run.
Things like napkins don’t seem like they are making a big dent in your spending, but all of the disposable product costs add up over time. Napkins, paper towels, sandwich bags, diapers, wipes, swiffer pads, etc. The savings will vary greatly depending on if you include diapers and wipes in your costs and how much of these products your family uses on a daily basis. A bare minimum spending estimate of $20 a month on these products (not including diapers and wipes) adds up to $240 a year. Cloth napkins, washable fabric sandwich bags, cloth diapers, fabric homemade swiffer pads will all have a small up-front cost but as the years go by, the savings will more than pay you back!
Simplify Your Needs
Oftentimes in our culture it is easy to get into the mindset of needing so many different products to make our lives easier. Take a look at your true basic needs and find the best and most efficient way to meet them. As an example, instead of using a face cream, hair gel, and body lotion - you can use coconut oil to meet all of those needs with one natural and fairly inexpensive product. Ask yourself before each purchase “Do I NEED this, or do I have something similar that can fulfill this need?”. Many times our wants feel like needs until we put them in check!
Save your wants for a special treat to yourself.
Buy Ahead of Season (carefully!)
It can be easy to throw money away by buying off-season because things are “cheap” so take this one on carefully and thoughtfully. If you have needs that you know need to be met in the future (winter coat, backpack, etc.) then it’s a great idea to buy ahead when stores have their end of season clearance sales. Do not buy something just because it is inexpensive. You can utilize Hukkster, which alerts you when your favorite items go on sale from a growing list of online retailers and Camel Camel Camel which alerts you to price drops on your favorite amazon products!
Only buy it if it’s something you would normally buy even if it were the full retail price!
There are many great resources - such as Couponing 101, coupons.com, Smart Source, and All You - to help you use coupons to save money on your grocery trips. To save big amounts you really have to commit to it, but don't let that scare you away from trying. Even using just a handful of coupons on each trip (especially on things that are already on sale) will add up to a nice amount of money saved over time for relatively little work!
Rethink Holiday Spending
The pressure and excitement of holidays put so many of us right over the financial edge. No matter what society or our culture tells you, you do not have to go on a spending and gifting spree. Consider taking a break from the overspending of the holiday season and find more meaningful ways to celebrate that still feel special and fun. Get the family together and create gingerbread houses, shop for a few special presents to give to a family who is in more need than yours, or buy one family gift that will be fun and useful for everyone but will allow you to spend less than you would had you bought a pile of presents for each person. This goes for any holiday and anniversary.
Think of thoughtful and creative things you can do to create meaning and show love, without overspending.
DIY Before You Buy
It is amazing how many things we buy that we can actually make ourselves for much cheaper. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if you could make it or if you know someone who could help you! Cleaning products, beauty products, household organizational products, home decor, fashion accessories, and edibles can all be made very creatively. Most likely, you’ll be so proud of your creation that you will love it more than what you would have purchased. Check out our MAKE category and our MAKE board on Pinterest for ideas!
And you’ll love the savings too.
For tips on saving money on your water bill, be sure to read
5 Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill
Follow the SAVE category for more tips, ideas and information on ways to save money.