Here are my personal strategies for saving money. They might work for you, or they might not. Being an adult means spending all the money you earn, so here’s how I make my budget go as far as I can.
- Pay money upfront whenever you can. When I bought my car, I put down as big of a down payment as I could. When I buy insurance, I pay the plan in full at the beginning of the year. I know this does not work for everyone, but when I do this as often as I can, I end up saving several hundred dollars a year.
- Never buy (new) books. For those of you who are like me, you love to read. Sometimes we forget about the library! Free unlimited movies, books, and more! Now, with Overdrive and Libby, it’s easier than ever. You can get free online books just by using your library card. If I do treat myself to a book to own, I will only buy used from library sales or used book stores. Another thing I like to do is trade books with friends whenever possible.
- Buy in bulk. I bought a membership to BJ’s about a year ago for $25 through an incentive program for teachers at my school. By using store coupons combined with manufacturer’s coupons (yes, you can use more than one coupon on an item there!) I am able to get even bigger savings. It’s not just for suburban moms.
- Fix, don’t replace. Whenever I can, I fix something instead of replacing it. If you have a needle and thread, you have a life extender for your clothes. Ripped leggings, missing buttons, or torn belt loops can be easily fixed with a little time. When in doubt, look on Youtube for videos on how to fix things. The sense of accomplishment comes free with the repair too!
- Do it yourself whenever you are able. Time is often a constraint, but I do things myself whenever I can. For example, in my house, I painted the rooms myself. It took a lot of time and was labor intensive work (especially painting the ceilings and trim) but I saved money. I am also making my own curtains for my bedroom and living room–much cheaper than buying curtains that I would most likely need to hem anyway. It also comes with a bit of a bonus because I can pick more unique fabric than the usual curtains at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.
- Cook! Yes, I love going out to eat, but cooking at home saves money. It is so underrated. Make something that you can eat all week and bring for lunches. For example, I love quiche. I will make quiche on a Sunday for dinner and then bring a slice for lunch all week. It’s basically meal prepping, which isn’t an original tip, but I can’t do grilled chicken and veggies every day. BONUS HINT: Whenever I go out to eat, I always order something I am not skilled at making or otherwise wouldn’t make for myself. If I see something I want but I know I could make myself, I take a mental note and make it for dinner later that week. This isn’t really money saving but it helps me get my money’s worth out of going out to eat.
- Shop with credit cards–then pay them off. I have a store card to my favorite place to buy clothes: Loft (don’t judge, I’m a teacher). I pay with my credit card, get discounts and coupons often, and always pay off the balance as soon as I get home. If you are loyal to a specific brand or store, this can help a lot.
- Figure out what you love, then splurge. My fiance and I love going to karaoke bars. There really isn’t any way of getting around the cost. We go out with our friends, order appetizers and scorpion bowls…and it adds up. We know this. We set money aside to go out, so we are mindful when doing something else. If we end up doing other things for entertainment, we remember that means no karaoke for a bit. It helps us prioritize what we like doing and keeps us from going out too often and wasting money on stuff we don’t love. It doesn’t keep us from hanging out with friends, but it definitely helps us make the decision between a bottle of wine together with them or a night on the town.