Wouldn’t you like to perhaps have a few extra thousand dollars in your pocket at the end of the year? I know I would, and there are some ways to do it that are fairly painless and fly somewhat in the face of convention advice. In the past I have known people who use the usual ways to get some control over their finances, such as tracking spending and building a budget, but for whatever reason, they still never seemed to be able to get ahead. They even tried paying themselves first, but still found the lifestyle of living paycheck to paycheck.
If you have found yourself on the money merry-go-round, rather than finding a way of building wealth, maybe some of the ways I used will help. Few of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths, but we can add to the silverware drawer a little at a time if we use our heads. Use the following suggestions to keep more of your hard-earned money, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at the end of the year – I know that we did!
Have You Been Bitten by the Collecting Bug?
I have to plead guilty to being the collector. I love camping/ backpacking, and I now have a closet filled with enough camping equipment for a regiment. I finally forced myself into the closet a couple of weeks ago, and I was forced to confront 8 canteens, 5 sleeping bags, 6 tents, 4 portable water purifiers, 3 Therm-a-rests and a bunch of other things I’m too embarrassed to list.
I sat down and totaled up the cost of my collection and it really was astounding. I decided to do something about my ‘habit’ and get rid of the stuff I am not using. The fact that the camping equipment was starting to overflow out of the closet was just one more reason to get the collecting under control fast.
Buying on Impulse
All of us do this, no one is immune; we go into a store and something catches our eye that is simply irresistible. Before we know it, the credit card is out and something we don’t really need is in a bag. Always remember, that the purpose of every store is to get you to buy the goods they have on offer, and impulse spending can take a real chunk out of your earnings.
There are ways to circumvent impulse buying, including always using a list when shopping, and using only cash when tempted to buy something you don’t really need; having to shell out actual money can make it harder to buy something on the spur of the moment – a credit card makes impulse buying much too easy. When a retailer offers a sale, it makes it much more likely that you will be tempted to make a purchase, but as with the above selection, you’re not saving money, you’re spending it.
The Nasty Nibble of Wasted Food
Americans are guilty of being terrible wasters of food. My sister is fond of quoting “When in doubt, throw it out”, but the amount tossed in the garbage goes way beyond simple food safety. As it turns out, Americans are responsible for throwing away almost 50% of our groceries, which is an embarrassing statistic.
It would be unrealistic to think that you could eliminate all food waste in your household, but there are some things you can do to minimize it.
- Do you have any idea of what you’ll be eating for the coming week? No? Well, you might find that a weekly menu plan will help you curb food wastage.
- After you’ve made your meal plan, a shopping list is a way not only to make sure you buy everything you need, but also to keep you from grabbing haphazardly off the shelves at the grocery. Use a list and stick with it.
- Use a handy little app called Flipp to simplify your shopping. This app notifies you of local sales, and helps with assembling your shopping list. I know several people who have it on their smartphone and love it to find new recipes to try. I have even found that I can save a few bucks every week by using Flipp, and these few bucks do add up as the months go by. A free download of Flipp can be had from either Google Play or iTunes.
Most of us tend to think that haggling over price is something you might do only when you’re planning on buying a car or a house. No, the fine art of haggling is not relegated to some exotic oversea bazaar, you can often get a better deal if you hone your haggling skills right here.
While it’s probably pointless to go into a store and try to get the price on any item lowered, there are some places where you can get a much better deal if you just give it a shot.
- In many cases, you can ask for lower credit card rates when applying for a new card. If your credit rating is good, your chances of success will be better.
- Banks are always looking for new customers, and you can often get free checking if you search around a bit. Online banks are an option, now, too.
- Cell phone plans can really take a bite out of your income, especially if you make a lot of calls. Don’t hesitate to negotiate with your cell phone company for lower rates on my cell phone plan, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Boy, did this one hit home with me. I told you about my camping gear addiction, well, the last high end sleeping bag I bought (to go along with the other 4 bags), was on sale for $480 instead of the regular price of just over $600. I deluded myself in thinking that I had ‘saved’ about $120, but the truth of the matter was that I had spent $480. I didn’t save a thing. Even though it was a nice bag meant for cold weather, which I needed, I could have just use a current bag and wore more clothes to bed. When I started keeping track of my purchases, I was surprised about how much money I was wasting. Then surprised again to see how easy it was to curb my behavior and watching the savings build it. Actually saving money is a better feeling that have a nice shinny new product I did not need.
These easy approaches should help with getting spending in line and hopefully will allow for a pleasant surprised at year’s end with a much larger bank account!