Rarely does someone's budget reveal such an obvious issue as spending $3600 per month on candles! Most people who want (or need) to save money need to dig a little deeper. Read on to find out some of our favorite strategies for saving money.
11 Money-Saving Strategies
Saving money is a challenge for most people. In our experience, those with the most success set an intention around their spending. Then they create a plan that automates the savings so you don't have to think about it.
Increased savings provides greater flexibility in your life, reduces stress by providing security for you and your loved ones, and increases your ability to give.
Where to start?
First, identify your money personality. Understanding your relationship with money can better focus your approach to adjusting your financial behavior.
Recognize that changing habits around money takes dedication and time. Be patient with yourself and recognize that things won't change overnight.
Savings strategies are never one-size-fits-all. Implement one or two from the list below and see how your life changes. That may provide you with the inspiration to try even more.
1. Ask for What you Want
From salary negotiations to senior discounts, sometimes you won't get money unless you ask. Did you get charged a late fee on your credit card bill? Call them and ask them to waive it. We realize that many people (especially women) are conditioned to not talk about or ask for money. If this is you, start with a low-stakes request as practice.
2. Utility Bills
Monthly utility bills seem like something you just have to pay. But there are always ways to make our homes more energy efficient. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that natural gas prices will be up 30% this winter, so it's a good a time as any to be conscious of your heating bill. Strategies on winterizing your home abound from adding draft stoppers and sealing windows, to closing off heating vents to rooms of your house.
If you use employer-provided health insurance, every year you're forced to make an election on your plan. What about your other insurance coverage, like car, home, or life? Take some time to evaluate your policies and see if they are still providing the coverage you need. Request a quote from a competitor and see if you can get a better price.
Low deductible plans are the least valuable to you and the most profitable for insurance companies. Instead, consider increasing your deductibles and relying on your emergency fund for out of pocket costs.
4. Treat Yourself to a New Beauty Routine
Taking care of ourselves can really add up! Ask around, and talk to professionals to find new ways to save on your beauty routine. For example, Advisor Emily likes to balayage her hair, but it can get pricey. She asked her stylist if there were any more affordable alternatives. Emily's stylist knew just what to do, and now her hair looks just as great when she goes for balayage every other visit instead of every time. Advisor Danielle discovered a great massage school near her home, and was able to take advantage of half-price massage services. Advisor Amanda discovered The Ordinary skin care line, and now spends a fraction of what she used to on skincare products.
5. Keep Track of Your Accounts
Have an old 401(k) you always meant to rollover? What about a bank account you opened in college and sort of forgot about? That 401(k) probably needs to be rebalanced and rolled over, and that bank account could be accruing fees you're not mindful of.
Another resource to check is missingmoney.com. Advisor Emily recently found a credit for $25 from an old rebate she submitted for contact lenses.
6. Kids are Expensive
Yes, we all know that taking care of our children can be a pricey endeavor. But how pricey does it have to be? There are myriad ways to save on items our kids need: hit the rummage sales, join your local freecycle or buy nothing group, or contact a mom's group for babies a year or two older than yours and see if they have any hand-me-downs.
For some parents, saying "no" repeatedly in a store can get old fast. Advisor Amanda likes to take a picture of her daughter with the desired item - for whatever reason this gets her daughter to stop asking and move on.
Monthly subscriptions can easily add up - $7 here, $10 there, and next thing you know you're spending hundreds a month. Dedicate a time to sit down and assess which ones you really enjoy and cancel the rest. Remember, while many subscription services make it difficult to cancel, it's your money not theirs.
We all need to eat so when assessing your expenditures at grocery stores and restaurants, it can be hard to sort the "want" from the "need". Weekly meal planning is a great way to not only save money at the store by creating a list in advance, but also to reduce food waste. Spending some time on the weekend doing some meal prep can really go a long way to prevent that evening takeout order when you're too tired to cook.
This year prices on new and used cars went through the roof. What do you do if you want to find a deal? Car buying services (USAA and Costco both have good reputations) help you find a car for the best price. Car leases offer convenience, but buying a car will save you money in the long run.
10. Take Advantage of Libraries
Libraries aren't just for books anymore. Most library systems now offer electronic and audio books. Depending on your location, you can also find tool libraries and toy libraries. Not only do you save money, but it's an automatic way to declutter your home in an environmentally sound way.
11. Scratch that Shopping Itch Elsewhere
Retail therapy is a known stress reliever. As habits go, there are definitely worse things you could do, but if you want to keep an eye on your spending it can be damaging. What to do? If you really need to get out and shop, go to the local thrift store instead of somewhere high end. If you scratch your shopping itch with online shopping, make rules for yourself. For example, Advisor Amanda found it effective to create a 24-hour buffer period between when she added something to a cart and when she hit the buy button.