Based on my last 10 years of experience (18-28), here are my top 10 tips to save money:
1. Save Automatically.
Setting up automatic contributions is the best way, in my opinion, to save money. It is simply harder to spend money that you can’t see. I’d suggest starting by contributing the minimum to your 401(k) to get the maximum company match. Then take a look at Roth IRA’s. If you don’t qualify, think about saving automatically to an account that you can use to invest in whatever you wish.
2. Prioritize Your Spending.
It’s much easier to say no to a fancy new car if you know that you rather fully fund your Roth IRA. If you know you absolutely adore your smart phone, maybe it will be easier to save elsewhere, like a magazine subscription you barely have time for. Prioritization is key.
3. Give up Expensive Habits.
Smoking comes to mind first simply since I saw a man in front of me at Kroger pay $7 for one pack! OUCH. Drinking, bar hopping, drugs, soda…any regular habit that costs money adds up fast. We’re saving about $250 a year now that we’ve given up our daily soda habit!
4. Find cheap hobbies.
Blogging and board gaming have been awesome for me. Blogging has actually turned into a money making opportunity and board gaming is only as expensive as allowed. We buy about 5 games a year for a total of less than $200 and we are entertained weekly. The trick is to find a hobby that you crave to be a part of that costs way less than the normal ways you spend your time.
5. Change to less expensive activities.
We could save more than a thousand dollars a year if my husband gave up Curling (the ice sport) and his Massage Envy membership, but it is all about prioritization. If we ever needed extra cash, expensive activities would be the first to go.
6. Cook at Home More.
This only saves money if you learn to cook using inexpensive ingredients. My mom is the queen of a yummy one-pot meal. I personally have started jumping into all recipes that use ground beef or turkey as the main ingredient, lol.
7. Make Grocery Lists.
This is a life saver if you actually follow your list. You have control over what goes into your cart…if you keep that in mind, you can save hundreds of dollars every month or two.
8. Compare Prices for Your Different Monthly Services Annually.
I call around for cable, internet, and insurance quotes every year and have kept our bills at the same rates they were 3 years ago. A 10 minute call can really pay off.
9. Make Long-Term Goals.
Goals keep your mind from wandering when a nice but expensive what-not pops up. Our early retirement goal keeps me driving my cruddy Aveo simply so I can continue to save instead of making monthly payments.
10. Re-Evaluate Your Housing Costs.
We were paying $730 for a one-bedroom apartment that was 1000 square feet. We realized that we’d only have to pay a few thousand more a year to own a home and build some equity. We now have a $740 a month mortgage and $2300 a year property taxes. In 6 years, we will only have property taxes. That will free up about a fifth of our take home pay! And we plan on buying a house with cash next time around.
What other everyday tips do you have for us?