Maybe you’re looking to build wealth or just start a savings account, but with no money left after paying the month’s bills, the only place to look for more money is by making a few lifestyle changes. Living below your means will free up some dollars that you can use to jump start an investment plan, a new business or your child’s college savings plan. It doesn’t have to be painful, in fact, it can even be a fun and rewarding way of life.
Give up TV.Are you turning into a couch potato every night after work? Do you sit in front of the TV for hours watching show and show, movie after movie, game after game then wonder where all the time went? Giving up expensive cable and dish plans will help your budget, expand your mind and improve your health. All these things will save you money in the future! If you absolutely must have some type of TV service, contact your cable provider to see the most inexpensive plan they offer (some can be around $15) that are unadvertised budget plans. The company may also give you discounted services for several months just to keep you onboard.
$60 a month is $720 saved.
Don’t pay credit card fees. First off, credit cards are a great convenience and a necessity for online activity and especially for travel. Make sure you are not over-extending yourself with too much credit and do not over-spend so that you cannot pay off the entire bill each month. Know the terms of you credit cards and always at least pay the minimum on time. The last thing you need are late payments appearing on your credit report. Check out your interest rate. You can sometimes get a lower rate just by calling customer service and making the request. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Cook at home.This may sound difficult, but it isn’t. Cooking for yourself is the most inexpensive way to eat well, have some of the most delicious food and control costs. You don’t have to give up great food just because you make it at home. Learn some basics, such as roasting a chicken, cooking a steak, a few casseroles, etc. You’ll love all the leftovers for your lunches. When you start cooking at home, you’ll notice quickly that some dishes are more inexpensive than others, such as roasting a whole chicken as opposed to buying pre-cut and prepared chicken pieces.
Drink at home. If you are a wine or beer lover, stop buying these drinks or cocktails at bars and lounges. If you enjoy them, buy them at the grocery store or warehouse where the prices are the lowest, then enjoy them at home. Invite friends over for dinner and drinks to make the night a social event and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on any fun.
Give up bad habits. If you smoke or use any recreational drugs, these will not only ruin your financial health, they contribute nothing to your physical health and well being. Give them up and save the money to pay for health insurance.
Stock up on staples. Start being a strategic shopper. Make a list of your household staples and continually watch for them in newspaper ads and mailed ads for grocery and discount stores. When your favorite brand of toilet paper or Mac and Cheese goes on sale, buy a large quantity. After you watch the sales for several months to a year, you’ll start to see the difference between an OK price and a really good sale price. When your favorite products hit the lowest, buy them up. For food items, watch the expiration dates, but for paper items buy up to a year’s supply if you have the storage space.
These 10 ways to save money and live below your means are painless ways to change your lifestyle that will result in more money to save or invest. Not only will you have more cash each month, you may even be healthier, happier and on the way to developing new hobbies that are more satisfying than shopping and spending.
Anne Mathews is pursuing a graduate degree full-time and teaches part-time at a major U.S. university. If you are interested in writing professionally for this site and others, Ms. Mathews would appreciate the referral bonus: http://www.triond.com/rw/39827.
Published in: Personal Finance