Trendy, get-rich-quick advice is often floating around. However, there are plenty of practical measures anyone can take to manage their finances more responsibly.
Table of Contents
Budget Your Money
When it comes to saving money, starting to budget may seem like a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the most effective way to save money is a simple matter of being mindful of one’s resources.
At the most basic level, budgeting money well entails determining the input and output of household finances. This can be boiled down to two questions:
- “What is the minimum amount of money that the household will make in a fixed time period?”
- “How much does the household need to spend on necessary expenses in the same time period?”
Always take care of vital payments before anything else and ensure that more money is coming in than is going out.
There are also slightly more advanced budgeting practices that almost anyone can take advantage of. Managing credit cards well is a great one. Anyone with a credit card can benefit from setting a reasonable credit limit, regularly paying off accrued debt, and being aware of their credit score. It is also a good idea to have an adequate understanding of credit reports.
In fact, paying off debt is a great money-saving practice. It may seem contradictory to spend money in order to save money, but debt can rack up, accrue interest, wreck credit scores, and even result in measures like wage garnishment. All of these possibilities spell doom for financial stability. Debt repayment should absolutely go under the “necessary expenses” column of a responsible budget.
Pay Yourself First
There is one priority that should come before paying necessary expenses: you. This is not an option for everyone in every situation. On the other hand, if there is consistent wiggle room in a personal budget, something helpful to consider would be putting some money into a savings account from every paycheck. This should be done before anything else is paid.
Sell Your Stuff
This may sound like a desperate measure, but selling rarely used or unwanted belongings has the dual benefit of decluttering a home and increasing cash flow. A clean living space can benefit mental well-being. Along with some more financial stability, this can do wonders for a person’s mental health.
There are countless ways to sell possessions. There are more traditional means such as yard sales and auction houses as well as modern methods like apps, websites, and online community pages.
Take Advantage of Coupons and Rebates
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Many grocery outlets offer coupons and grocery rebates that can significantly cut the cost of grocery items and sundry goods.
However, the downside is that trying too hard to fulfill coupon or rebate requirements can cause people to actually spend more money. Additionally, people are often easily tricked by the wording of coupons and discounts. A good way to avoid these pitfalls is to consider whether each particular item would be on the grocery list if there were no coupon or rebate available.
Store-brand or generic products are usually less expensive than the same products from larger name-brands. Furthermore, the products are often similar or equal quality. Large name-brand producers just tend to have more name recognition and spend more on advertisement.
Cut Unnecessary Services
It certainly is satisfying to have food delivered. However, forgoing the delivery fee could be money saved — in fact, so could the whole bill. Cooking at home is often cheaper. And that’s not the only unnecessary service cost that people commonly accrue, sometimes even without knowing.
To start with, it’s a good idea to thoroughly review bank statements to make sure that all charges are accounted for. Many people end up paying for subscription services that they aren’t even using.
Accidental auto-payments aren’t the only problem. Delivery services, taxi services, cable, and entertainment subscriptions all represent potentially unnecessary costs. Someone who wants to tighten up their budget should consider cutting some or all of these services.
Watch Your Spending on Entertainment
Subscription services aren’t the only way money is wasted on entertainment. Movies, restaurants, bars, and travel are all often pricey ways to have fun. While it is unreasonable to expect anyone to completely cut all entertainment-related budget allocation, the cost of entertainment can be significantly mitigated with some smart spending.
Staying home, buying reusable entertainment (like video games and books), and finding ways to save on admissions and travel will add up to sizable savings over time. Find ways to spend time with family and friends without reaching for your wallet.
Cancel Your Gym Membership
On the topic of paying for something but never using it, up to 67% of gym memberships aren’t used. Furthermore, even when a gym membership is being used, it is far from a mandatory cost. Moving around is free. Biking, running, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. are all forms of exercise that don’t necessarily cost any money.
If your electricity bill is high, you may need to invest in green alternatives around the home. Being environmentally friendly can actually save money. Energy-efficient appliances, solar powered devices, and mindful use of light sources can all save on power expenses.
Save Money on Groceries
Groceries are an unavoidable cost. However, they don’t need to be outrageously expensive. We have already covered several useful tips, such as using coupons and buying generic products. Planning meals ahead of time, sticking to your grocery list, and choosing a cheap store are a few more ways that can help keep grocery costs down.
As previously mentioned, sometimes one has to spend money to save money. Paying for a cheap fix is better than waiting for the situation to spiral and become more expensive to correct. For example, it is cheaper to fix a clogged pipe than a rotted pipe, to change the oil than to buy a new car, or to take medication than to have surgery.
Learn to Fix Things Yourself
It is, of course, cheaper to fix things yourself than to pay someone else to do it. Learning to clear a clogged P-trap, change a car’s oil, or patch ripped clothing, are all great ways to save money.
There are caveats, however. If fixing the problem is particularly complex, trying to fix it yourself may cause further damage. Additionally, some rental housing agencies prohibit fixing damage to the property yourself, on penalty of fines or eviction.
Just because something is pre-owned does not mean that it is bad quality. Thrift stores are a great way to buy some new shoes or a better bookshelf for a fraction of the price. They are also fun to explore.
Volunteer work can allow one to experience an array of fun and enriching adventures for free. Volunteer security detail at concerts don’t have to pay admission. Joining GreenPeace or a similar organization is a means of travel, self-improvement, and cause-promotion with little-to-no expense. In fact, any out-of-pocket money paid in the course of volunteer work is potentially tax deductible. The only thing being spent is time.
For some people, poor financial management is an ingrained behavioral problem that can even be linked to genetics. Employing the 30-day rule can help people with financial impulsivity issues combat the effects of delay discounting. The 30-day rule simply means that if something does not fall into the “absolutely necessary” category for the household budget, wait 30 days to buy it. If it is still appealing and justifiable, then consider buying it.
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