Simple Ways to Save Money

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Need to find ways to cut some of your expenses? You can replace all your meals with instant ramen, or you can try these ideas instead!

Although my finances haven’t changed, I keep finding myself with less spending money than before. At first, I thought I had just spent a little more one month… until I noticed it kept happening. If you’ve noticed it, too, you’re not imagining things. Many things really are more expensive! Some of it is pretty noticeable. Grocery prices keep creeping up, and have you looked at the gas pump lately?

However, the overall cost of living has gone up. Housing, utilities, healthcare, and just standard goods and services all seem to be skyrocketing. It’s inflation, y’all. And it’s going up faster than we’ve seen in 40 years. To add insult to injury, a slow economy also means it’s harder to earn and save money.

I’m not going to bore you with all the statistics. If you want to read more about high inflation, the Fed raising rates, recessions, and all that jazz, check out this article. Just know that life is pretty expensive for most of us right now, and it’s not just you. And as the costs of many things continue to surge, it might be time to pinch a few pennies.

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Not that pennies are really worth anything these days…

There are plenty of obvious ways to cut back on spending, like, say, eating instant ramen for dinner every day. It’s just not all that reasonable. Some might even call that torture. Besides, it’s loaded with sodium. So instead, let’s take a look at some real ways to spend less money. Not all of these will work for everyone because there’s no one-size-fits-all way to save money. But hopefully, there are enough ideas here that everyone can find at least a few ways to cut back.

Work to Lower Your Utility Bills

Depending on where you live, it’s likely that utility bills take up a good bit of your budget. Things like electricity and water are necessary, so this isn’t an expense you can cut out completely – but you can do a few things to lower the cost.

Saving money on your water bill is pretty obvious. Take shorter showers, and don’t leave the sink running while you’re brushing your teeth. Look at installing water-saving faucets and shower heads. Oh, and don’t run the dishwasher until it’s fully loaded. You can even collect rain water to use in the garden, instead of turning on the hose to water your plants.

Energy costs might be a little more difficult to cut, considering how much we really do use electricity. Replacing the air filter on your HVAC can lead to it working more efficiently. Weatherstripping doors and windows is another way to help your HVAC use less energy. Lower the thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees when no one is home, or set it on a timer/schedule if you have a smart thermostat.

And when you’re not using things, unplug them! Devices are like vampires. They’re still using electricity when plugged in, even when not in use. They could be sucking up as much as 5% or 10% of your electric bill.

Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Need

watching netflix on a laptop

How many subscriptions do you have right now? When you sign up for one, it probably doesn’t seem like a lot of money. But the more subscriptions you have, the more they add up! And that money automatically leaves your bank account each month.

First, let’s talk about all those streaming services. Remember the good ol’ days when we all ditched cable in favor of Netflix, and it was way cheaper? These days, many people have so many streaming services and add-on channels that they’re back to paying as much as they were for cable… or more. Ask yourself if you really need all of them, and actually use them all on a regular basis. Cancel the ones you aren’t using. And if you decide you miss it, you can always sign back up again later. I’m sure Netflix will have no issue with accepting you back!

Subscriptions also apply to the things that come in the mail. I’m talking about subscription boxes, magazines, or maybe all those specialty snacks from Amazon. These things might be cool, but we all know they aren’t necessities. If you’re looking for an easy way to save a few bucks, it might be time to pare down the item subscriptions.

And lastly, there are subscriptions for intangible items, like apps, cloud storage, music streaming, or online gaming services. Are you really using them enough to justify the monthly cost? You may have even forgotten about some of them – but they don’t forget, and that money is still being paid!

If you need help tracking down forgotten subscriptions to free up some cash, there are plenty of free apps (no more subscriptions!) that can help. Check out these helpful options.

No More Fast Fashion

a wall of jeans in a store
Adobe Stock

It’s called “fast” fashion because it falls out of style just as fast as it came in. If you’re purchasing new clothing all the time in an effort to keep up with every trend, you’re likely spending a good bit on it. All those cheap items really start to add up. And you’re just turning around and tossing them soon after when you replace them with the next new fad. It’s really easy to do, too, because each piece was inexpensive to begin with.

Don’t fall for it. Stick with tried-and-true basics that you can build a capsule wardrobe from. I’m talking about interchangeable clothing items that complement each other, are well made, and won’t go out of style next week. You will find yourself spending much less on clothing in the long run. You can always add stylish accessories to keep up with trends without blowing your budget on a whole new wardrobe.

Besides, fast fashion is not sustainable and is really terrible for the environment. It’s filling up landfills, contributing to microplastic pollution, consuming tons of energy, and is responsible for a lot of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Pack a Lunch

I’m sorry, I have to do it. I can’t talk about saving money without talking about making your own meals. The cost difference is staggering. If you work five days a week, eating a packed lunch instead of eating out may save you enough to fill up your gas tank!

Let’s say that after you buy ingredients and make five lunches, you’re looking at $2 per meal. Now, compare that to the $10 that you spend on lunch elsewhere. You’re looking at saving $40 each week, just by packing your own lunch.

You don’t have to be an avid meal-prepper to get in on these savings either. Even those premade frozen meals at the grocery store are infinitely cheaper than ordering lunch from a restaurant. You might not save quite as much, but it will still add up!

Saving Money on Your Grocery Bill

food in grocery bag

While we’re talking about packing lunches and making our own food, we have got to talk about that pesky grocery bill. Like I already mentioned, the cost of groceries has definitely gone up. I’ve watched my grocery bill continue to creep up higher and higher. It’s a necessary bill, but does it have to be so darn expensive?!

In order to save money when buying groceries, you’re going to have to do a little planning ahead of time. Gone are the days of hitting the store and figuring out what to buy after you get there. Figure out what you will be cooking and eating throughout the week, and make yourself a list. Then, stick to the list.

While making that list, pay attention to what is on sale, and try planning meals around those items. And if you’re lucky enough to live near a store that has online ordering, take advantage of it. This way, the store can’t get you with impulse purchases. If you want more ideas on saving cash at the grocery store, I’ve also compiled a lot of helpful tips on cutting your grocery bill down.

Check Flight Costs Before Planning Your Next Trip

woman looking at a plane

If you’re getting ready to travel, perhaps you should check flight costs before you finalize any plans. And no, I’m not kidding. With the national average of gas soaring sky high, driving to your destination could be higher than you think. The actual travel, whether you drive or fly, is likely a sizable part of your vacation budget. In some cases, it is actually cheaper to fly than drive right now. This is especially true if you are traveling solo.

It will rely on a few different variables, such as the distance you are traveling or if you will need a vehicle after you arrive. Don’t forget to factor in other costs besides just gas, like meal expenses or lodging along the way, car rental, or any needed pre-trip car maintenance. However, it is definitely worth the time and effort to compare and contrast the cost of flying versus driving. In some cases, this research could save you a good chunk of change.

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