It’s that time of the year again. You need to pay those bills but you also want to go for that trip you’ve been planning for since long or want those cool shoes. However you’re out of cash, or don’t have enough for those indulgences. Plus you still owe your friends some money from picking up your tab at the bar that day, and the other day when you went shopping.
Save yourself the everyday financial stress and from getting into a debt cycle. Planning your expenses smartly go a long way. The good part, you don’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck anymore. Plus knowing that you have a backup in case of emergencies will save you a lot of stress.
Before we start, remember money cannot be saved overnight. Every day counts and every small habit does too. Here are the small changes you can make on an everyday basis, that can save you a lot of money in the long run.
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Even if you’re totally cash-strapped, take a teeny bit out of each paycheck that automatically goes into a savings account. Think Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 or more. It’s kind of shocking how little you’ll miss it—and you’ll be saving in the process.
The second thing to do is start maintaining a financial diary. Jot down your daily expenses in that. It’ll be easier to save once you know what you’re aiming for and how you’re going to get there. Write down your daily, weekly and monthly budget in it and stick to it. Mark out some savings goals and plan how you’re going to achieve them. When you think through things and come up with a list of how to start saving, it’ll give you the motivation and discipline to save, save, save, instead of spend, spend, spend.
Also, put your phone to use. There are tons of apps that can save you money: CardStar stores your rewards cards on your phone, so you can use them even if you leave your card at home and Mint helps you create goals to spend less and then warns you if you’re getting close to hitting your limit. If you’re bad at taxes and always have to rely on someone else to do taxes for you, then the India Tax 2018 app makes the task easy for you by computing your income tax and based on your entries, suggests you how much more investment you need in order to save more tax.
Thank you, next
Use the five-question rule. “Want or a need? Do I need it? Do I see myself using it? How often? Is it worth the time?” Make it a point to run by these questions every single time you’re buying something to avoid unnecessary expenses.
Instead of buying clothes every single month according to the season and trends, go for clothes-swapping. Give a few pieces to a friend to wear, and get some of hers. Or start a mini club of sorts. Set a group budget and get clothes from that amount that can be shared by every one of the same sizes.
If you’re big on reading, books can be fairly expensive. Especially if you devour a book a day. Go for library subscriptions, or purchase from a used books’ store. Get them by the kilo as well, like your mom would get veggies from a vendor. It’s fairly cheaper that way.
Cut it out
You might not even realise the small things you land up spending on. Think over this:
Take the metro instead of a taxi, cut down dining at restaurants and choose food courts, make a sandwich from home for lunch instead of buying one, and log on to public Wi-Fi and save your mobile data when possible. Slowly but surely, this will enable you to save a significant sum of money at the end of each month.
You might not realise, but spending on meals every day becomes a huge part of the monthly expense. Buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner might be costing you much more than you’d imagine, especially if you got drinks after work. So, a much smarter option is to have your breakfast and head to work and pack your lunch from home that you can have later.
Find a travel partner for your way to work/college. Not only do you get a company but you can split your taxi share and travelling costs. You will find a lot of carpooling opportunities outside railway stations, as well as UberPool. You don’t even have to shell out half of what you originally did that way.
Stop taking that Rs. 200 Starbucks coffee every day to work. If you’re a coffee lover, you’d rather invest in a coffee machine at home where you can make your own brew to take to work or have one available at your workplace.
Ditch one bad habit. When you’re looking for ways to save money without drastically changing your lifestyle, try getting rid of one thing that may be hurting your health and your wallet. Michelle Clardie, the founder of Savings and Sangria, a personal finance blog focused on helping young women hone their money management skills, says smokers might consider kicking the habit. This is a great example of a lifestyle change that will save you money. Say you spend Rs. 100 a day on cigarettes. By going cold turkey, you could save around Rs. 36,000 a year.
If you’ve recently spent a good amount on that bag you liked, keep your shopping in check for that month. If you’ve gone to a high-end restaurant this weekend, remember, and opt for a takeaway instead. Or better, stay in for that weekend.
Get ‘em offers
Most stores offer crazy-good discounts at the end of a season since they’re trying to make room for new clothes. A lot of clothes work for other seasons, too. Wait for the sale to get a good deal on that thing you had your eyes on.
Buy in bulk. Look out for discounts every time you go grocery shopping and buy in bulk the items that are on sale. Household goods, especially things like shampoos, and shower gels can be bought a few at a time. Take note of how much you’ve saved each month from your new bulk-buying habit and put that amount into a savings account. Make a list of the things you need to get and try to stick only to that.
Many brands have loyalty programs these days so take advantage of them, be it in the form of discounts or points you can redeem for stuff later. Whether it’s grabbing points, credit card perks, cashback deals or frequent flyer air miles, sign up for everything and use them so you get the most out of the benefits. Also, don’t be ashamed to use discount coupons or click on deals online that allow you to save money on your purchases (make sure these are legit links and not those Nigerian scams).
If you’re spending too much money compulsively shopping online, download a browser blocker that prevents you from accessing your favourite stores online. You wouldn’t have even realised what a habit it became.
Spend in cash. That way you’ll have a real count of how much you are spending.
Credit cards are useful especially for big purchases and definitely when you can accumulate points to enjoy other perks later. But using cash is the best way to keep track of your expenses as you’ll physically see how much you’re spending. Because you’ll take note of how many times you’re going to the ATM to top-up your supply in your wallet, you’ll definitely feel the pinch when you pay in cash so use it as an effective way to curb your spending. Listen to your debit card, not your credit card (it lies). Credit cards can tempt you and trick you into thinking you have the money when you don’t.
Don’t keep that saved cash right in front of your eyes, in your drawer. Put it in a safe deposit locker, if need be. Out of sight is out of mind.
Cable these days might be costing you more than you would have accounted for in a month. Say you’re spending Rs. 250 a month on your DTH service. That’s Rs. 3,000 a year. Also take into account your bills for Netflix, Amazon, ALT Balaji and other streaming platforms you might be paying to watch content for. That’s a large sum to pay for a service that people often don’t take full advantage of. Either consider cutting the cord and getting your TV via the internet, through services like Netflix, or cut the latter.
Your gym membership fees might be eating you up. Sure those celeb Pilates pictures might have inspired you to stay fit, but make sure they don’t burn a hole in your pocket. Use YouTube instead and save on pesky gym fees. There are tonnes of workouts available for free – just search what you’re looking for. Or, share your trainer fees with a friend.
Small changes in your daily life go a long way. So next time, keep the larger amount of change to yourself when you go out, and remember the simplest—switch off your lights and TV before you leave from home. Lesser bills to pay that way!