February 27th, 2018 | Updated on April 28th, 2018
Whether you’re living in the big city or out in the country, we’re all susceptible to the same impulse buys. This is no easier now that Amazon and other e-commerce sites have invaded every device we own and every online advertisement we view.
According to a report by Bankrate, only 39% of Americans have $1,000 saved for emergencies. Worse yet, CNN reported that 66% of millennials don’t even have a penny saved up for retirement. According to a report by Salon, one of the major reasons millennials don’t save is that they don’t think capitalism will exist in fifty years.
While we can’t verify whether that will happen or not, it’s not bad idea to start saving some money in the event that a new order doesn’t sprout up. While many people will tell you that the best way to start saving money is to set some money aside, saving money begins with mitigating costs. Even if you’re just saving for a new car or a designer jacket, here are 15 ways to cut your daily expenses and start saving.
1. Track Your Expenses
The first step to managing your budget is understanding it better. More than likely, your bank will provide you with an app that allows you to type in how much you spend on frivolous items each week, and display it in a neat pie chart or data visualization.
In our day-to-day life, a $5 charge for a bagel or pack of gum might not seem like much, but it can add up over time. Find out where you are spending your money the most: is it cigarettes, coffee, fast food, or all of the above? By tracking your expenses, you can find ways to mitigate them!
2. Create a Weekly Shopping List
With a better understanding of your expenses, you can begin to map out strategies to mitigate them. I always suggest a weekly grocery and shopping list so you can keep your budget on track with your goals. Map out what you need and pick it up from the grocery store or mall and then go back and compare your weekly expenses against your set budget. Of course, we’re not house cats, so be sure to set aside a little money for miscellaneous activities.
3. Brew Your Own Coffee
The time you take to stop at your local coffee shop and pick up a hot brew, could be used to brew your own coffee at home. You have no excuse! Again, those $2 macchiato charges may not seem like much, but they can become significantly more expensive then just brewing your own coffee over an annual period. If you’re like me, you need that morning coffee everyday!
4. Avoid the Takeout
This is another example of wasted spend. A takeout meal is going to cost you at least anywhere from $8 upward, so why not just make the same meal for yourself. It’s cheaper and it reinforces good skills to have. Plus, you’re eating at home anyway, right?
5. Pack a Lunch
All of those leftovers you have from making a full-sized meal for yourself, take it to work the next day. Sure, getting lunch at the office is always a nice break, but between this and the takeout, you’re literally straining your budget to the max. I mean, who needs a hot lunch anyway? Choose a salad instead with a little protein for $5 at the grocery store.
6. Bike or Carpool to Work
While this option may not be available to everyone, you should take advantage of it if it is. Carpooling and biking are not only good for the wallet, but also the earth. Think of it as a long-term investment.
7. Clip Coupons
While many millennials may not appreciate the value of a coupon, you can literally save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year with coupons. There’s even apps that will scan your emails for missed coupons and pay you for it.
8. Unplug Your TV
One of the biggest expenses on your home is your utility bill, but there are ways to save. Be sure to unplug all your electronic devices at night, take the stress off of your AC, and avoid turning on the lights whenever natural lighting can be used. Plus, instead of drowning out your brain with mindless TV, why not read a book?
9. Buy Used
Thrift stores are the king of savings. Whenever possible, buy used or refurbished products for your entertainment. Of course, for kitchen appliances, I always suggest going new because flimsy products tend to wear out and need replacement over time.
10. Cancel Your Gym Membership
Sure, that gym membership is probably saving you thousands of dollars in medical bills down the road, but there are cheaper ways to work out. Jogging and running are free and joining a sports club is a good way to work out that core without having to run on the treadmill alone.
11. Renegotiate Internet and Phone Deals
Do this right now! Seriously! Find a better deal whenever possible on your internet and phone bill for immediate savings. You should also do this for your car insurance and any other monthly expenses you don’t know are being taken from your bank account. It’s easy to ignore these costs, but they won’t ignore your wallet.
12. Talk to Your Utility Service
Along the same lines, talk to your utility provider to find cheaper services. You can even find a cheaper supplier if you live in a deregulated state. There’s also software you can invest in for savings, such as a programmable thermostat for the home or utility bill auditing software for business.
13. Avoid the Credit Card
Whenever possible, pay for items in cash to avoid the surcharges and interest rates. While having good credit is a life-saver for long-term purchases, if you’re trying to save money immediately, stick with an allocated cash amount. Avoid the temptation to swipe!
14. Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your health may save you money on medical procedures down the road, but eating healthy foods is actually cheaper. Beyond this, biking and walking places is, well, free! Avoid the boos and cigarettes too, as they can add up.
15. Make a Goal to Save
Finally, if you want to start cutting down on expenses and saving money, you need to make it a goal and a habit. Sure, some of us go one week without the takeout and coffee, but most of us hop right back on the wagon. Make it a goal and hold yourself accountable for your spendthrift habits.