It seems that no matter what we are paid, money is always tight. I’m not sure if this is because we just have so many options when spending our money or if it really is the fact that prices keep rising while incomes stay relatively the same. In any case, I’ve taken some time recently to look over my budget. I found a few simple things I could do that would have a large positive impact on my finances. The great part about this is that they are simple things that won’t take much effort on my part. I think that many of you could benefit from these as well.
#1. Meal Plan
When I go grocery shopping, I buy what is on my list. Having a list saves me money because I tend to stick to it and not erratically spend on things I don’t need. But I can take this one step further and meal plan.
Meal planning sounds time consuming, but it really isn’t. All you have to do is take 5-10 minutes to look through the store circular to see what is on sale for the week and then build your meals around that. For example, maybe turkey is on sale this week in the deli. So for lunch you can have turkey sandwiches. Next week when deli ham is on sale you can have ham sandwiches for lunch.
Use the same logic for dinners as well. Just build meals around what is on sale. And feel free to go “meatless” some nights. In other words, make a soup or a salad for dinner. You don’t have to have a meat at every single meal. Cutting it out of just one meal can help save money.
#2. Drink Water
Juices and sodas cost money. Water is free. Learn to drink more water. In fact, you can save money two ways with this tip! First is to simply drink water. When you go out, order water with a lemon as your drink. When you eat in, pour a glass of water. Just make sure you are drinking tap water and aren’t paying for bottled water as this would defeat the purpose of cutting out juice and soda.
The second way this trick saves money is by making you feel full. Before you sit down to eat, have a big glass of water. You will eat less, trust me. The less you eat means the less you spend on food, thus saving you money.
#3. Stay In
I’m not telling you to become a hermit here. But stay in more often than going out. You can have a great time staying in with friends. Rent a movie at Redbox for $1. Play some board games. Play cards. There are many options for you when staying in and they all cost a ton less than going out to dinner and then grabbing drinks afterwards.
If you can cut down the number of times you go out in half, you will see a huge savings each month. So how do you tell your friends you don’t want to go out? Tell them you want to start a new tradition. Every few weeks, instead of going out, one of you will host everyone else. The host will make dinner for everyone and you will hang out at their house.
We do this and have a blast. We’ve found it is more fun and rewarding than going out.
In the end, these three tricks will help you to save a decent amount of money each month. And as I mentioned earlier, they are easy to incorporate into your daily life. So take a few minutes to meal plan and call or text your friends about staying in and coming over for dinner. Just make sure you drink water!