We’ve all been there. The end of the month is coming up, and you’re petrified to check your bank balance; once the numbers (or lack thereof) show up, you get your fear justified.
Do you have holes in your pockets, you may wonder. How did you spend so much, you may ask yourself. Where, even? How? Every month, you may say to yourself that the next one will be different… And it somehow never is.
If you’re as bad with money as I am, you might have landed on this page because you need a little help from your dear friend the internet.
But fear not – the following tips will turn you into a complete penny pincher with plenty of money left in the bank at the end of each month!
These ideas have helped me a bunch; I hope they help you too.
1. Pick up extra condiments and sauces from restaurants
If you’re anything like me, you’re a big believer in the power of condiments. Salt, sugar, spices, and sauces have the undeniable power of making an otherwise mediocre (and cheap) meal feel like heaven!
But picking up new condiments every week can also turn you into a big spender … What if there was a way to get them for free?
Many people have turned to Google to ask whether they become criminals from pocketing ketchup and mayonnaise packs whenever they take a trip to McDonald’s.
But don’t worry – according to The TakeOut.com, this doesn’t make you a felon. Phew!
There is a reason why you’re not being charged for the little packets designed to spice up your meal – they are part of what you paid for!
So, next time you take yourself out, take a little something back, and save yourself some money on your next trip to the market.
2. Don’t forget the straws and napkins
So you’ve got the ketchup and the mayonnaise – great.
But you’re not done; there is more that you can take home after a night out on the town which will end up saving you some money in the long-term…
Ever watched a waitress collect your straw and stack of napkins to throw them in the trash and thought: “what a waste”?
Well, you’re right.
Even with plastic straw bans spreading like wildfire as the world comes to terms with the dangers of plastic pollution, it’s very likely that the last restaurant you went to still gave them out in abundance.
The same goes for mostly underutilized napkins.
So, next time you go out to eat, don’t forget to make a mental note of what to take home – condiments, straws, and napkins! Besides keeping your expenses down, the planet says thank you too.
3. Use coupons and cashback apps
Coupons can take a lot of work since profiting off them requires careful planning and preparation. And sometimes the turn-out is only a few cents…
…But, with the right mindset, you can make coupons your new best friend!
First, there are some simple couponing mistakes you should avoid.
These include printing coupons you don’t use and buying just about anything on sale – the way to go with coupons is to be selective, organized and, most of all, patient (get ready to stack on clippings)!
Once you’ve mastered the art of couponing – or if you’ve simply decided it just isn’t for you – there are more digital-savvy ways to start saving up on shopping.
If you’re past couponing, but still want to save those dollars, cashback apps like Capital One Shopping and Dotch are for you!
4. Grow your own food in your garden
There is a reason why cottagecore is becoming one of the fastest spreading fashion trends on the internet.
Something about the countryside aesthetic and the thought of growing your own beets and potatoes is extremely attractive in our fast-moving cosmopolitan world.
Why not try your hand at the farming fantasy yourself?
If you’ve got a garden or even a balcony (or a window..), growing your own food can be very rewarding, not to mention a cheapskate idea for you and your family.
If you need even more reasons, not only is growing your own food sustainable, it is also healthier!
No need to worry about those gnarly pesticides you pretend to not know about when you buy apples at the supermarket.
So stock up on seeds and get planting – your plate, your planet, and your wallet will all thank you for it.
5. Lower your heating and wear a sweater
If your heating bill gives you a headache every month, you can start by taking comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one.
According to Home Adviser, the average heating bill for Americans amounts to a whopping $1,500 a year!
Then, it’s time to reassess your co-dependent relationship to your heater – without freezing to death, of course! There are plenty of other ways to keep yourself warm.
It’s time to throw on that ugly, cozy sweater, the wooly jumper you never use, and pull the warm covers up to your nose.
Even if it begins snowing outside, you’ll be warm and cozy inside without ever turning up the thermostat – and saving money in the process!
6. Diet – eat less, save more
Ever heard of combining business with pleasure? Well, quite a few of the entries of this list offer a new saying: mix money-saving with a healthier lifestyle. And, more often than not, with saving the planet too!
If you’re seeing too many pounds on the scale and not enough bills in your wallet, there is a simple way to both lose weight and stretch a dollar in one go – dieting.
Of course, if you’re on a budget, it might not be the best time to invest in pricey farmer’s market products or an expensive nutritionist.
However, cutting on food expenses in a healthy, smart way can be both good for you and the environment!
By becoming a food storage expert, getting into the habit of freezing food and perhaps even going meat-free, you will not only be a more conscious buyer – you will also be a richer one.
7. Implement the 30-day rule
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule?
Well, buckle up, because if you’re looking for money saving tips, this might be one of the most important ones you’ll ever hear.
It’s quite simple, in fact. See a beautiful jacket on the show window of your favorite store? Do you feel the urge to storm in and storm out with a brand outfit on?
Well… Hold on. Because, according to this golden rule of money saving, you’ll have to wait to get it. More precisely, 30 days.
If in a month of you keep daydreaming about whatever it might be that caught your eye in the mall – that beautiful jacket, a pair of golden earrings or a fancy new kitchen utility – go ahead and treat yourself to it.
This way, you will know it wasn’t an impulse buy!
By implementing the 30-day rule, you will find yourself in more control of your shopping urges, and you will cherish your prized possessions way more. They were worth the wait, after all!
8. Swap fast fashion for thrifting
Does buying a new top or getting a new pair of shoes to make you smile a little wider? Is going shopping, trying on different clothes, and leaving the store with a brand new wardrobe make you feel like a brand new person?
You’re not alone; according to a 2013 study, retail therapy, as it is now commonly known, is a preferred mood booster among Americans.
However, compulsive shopping can also make you sad all over again when the time comes to check on your balance.
But there is an increasingly popular cheapskate remedy for this: thrift shopping!
Thanks to thrifting, you can get all your shopping thrills for half the price – besides, buying second hand is good for the planet too! What is there to lose?
Forget chain stores, shopping malls, and fast fashion: thrifting is where it’s at.
9. Drink water
Well, yeah. What’s new, you may scoff to yourself. You already drink plenty of water – after all, you’re practically made up of it.
In fact, grabbing a glass of water might seem like such a mundane task that you and others might forget how important drinking it is for your health, and why.
Not only does water help you regulate your body temperature, it also keeps your skin bright and even improves your mood! Seems like the perfect drink, right?
Yet, half of the adults in this country are not drinking enough of it; the average American drinks around five glasses of water a day, which is half the amount recommended.
If you’re one to more often than not go for a beer or a soda instead of water, there are plenty of reasons to reconsider. Not only is the waterway better for you, but it’s also much, much cheaper.
So close the fridge door – and open the tap!
10. Cut your own hair
Here’s a not so fun fact: on average, both men and women spend upwards of $100 on haircuts each year!
You may not even remember the last time you hit the salon – but if you were to teach yourself how to cut your own hair, you would save a lot of money.
Giving yourself your first haircut can be intimidating – a lot can go wrong, right? That’s why it’s best to start small: maybe don’t go for bangs on the first try…
Thanks to the internet, there are now easily reachable tutorials a-plenty that can guide you through the tricky tricks of the trade of hair cutting. With time and patience, you will soon become an expert yourself!
11. Take fewer and faster showers
Now just hold on.
This one might sound disgusting, but don’t worry.
It’s actually fine to not shower every day – everyone is different, and, depending on the season and your own skin, you might actually benefit from a more relaxed washing schedule.
And when you are showering, there are still ways to be cheap in the tub!
According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average shower lasts around 8 minutes and uses roughly 17.2 gallons of water.
So, next time you step into the bathroom, try to spend less time daydreaming under the drops and more time actually scrubbing and cleaning!
By reducing both the showers you’re taking and their time, you may find yourself saving a lot of water.
This is not only very resourceful on your part, but also extremely cheapskate, as your water bill will go down considerably in the process.
12. Start saving… Now
All this being said, the best way to save money is to… save money. Pretty obvious, right?
It might seem simple enough, but sometimes the hardest part of starting to save up is, precisely, starting. So, the first step is to quit putting it off and beginning today.
Then, another hurdle; actually sitting down and figuring your expenses. What are you spending on? What can you cut in?
A pen and paper will do wonders on this stage: also, look into budgeting apps like Mint and PocketGuard for this.
At last – start setting saving goals, be it short-term or long-term. Don’t forget to be realistic: but don’t slack! You got this.
No matter what you may have been led to believe, saving money can be extremely difficult.
There might be months where you try your best to buy less, be more sustainable, and make do with what you have, and you end up saving less than you were expecting.
But don’t get discouraged! Turning yourself into a total scrooge, especially in a world that seems to push you to get, buy, and consume more and more, is no easy task, at least at first. Like any other lifestyle change, it’s a challenge!
So stay strong, keep your head up, and say no to the next dinner out or shopping spree invite.
It might be hard for now, but, come to the end of the month, you will check your balance knowing exactly what awaits you – much, much more money in the bank.