Clever And Creative Ways To Efficiently Save Money
If you’ve found yourself in a financial rut over the past few months, you’re not alone. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has trickled down to nearly everyone. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be completely broke, even if your income isn’t what you hoped it would be at this point.
Read on to learn more about some clever and creative ways to save money that you can begin doing right now.
Time Your Shopping Trips
One easy way to save money is to plan what you buy around what is going on sale. And the best way to take the greatest advantage of this is to time your shopping trips to occur on the first day of a new sales week.
For many stores, this is a Wednesday, but several large chain grocery stores roll-over their sales on Sundays. Check out the ads of all the grocery stores in your area to find out which items are on sale where, and don’t be afraid to go to more than one grocery store in order to take advantage of all the best deals.
If rollover day is a Sunday, you’ll also have the added advantage of being able to use two weeks of coupons at most places. New coupons come out with the new Sunday paper and most often expire the Saturday before.
Many grocery stores (albeit not all) will honor expired coupons that are only one day old. Therefore, you’ll ideally be able to utilize two weeks of coupons on the same day.
The store is also more likely to have the items you’re looking for in stock, as it’s the first day of the new week and fewer people have made a trip to take advantage of the new deals. If you’re really crafty, you can even ask a store employee what items will be going on sale in the coming week, and plan accordingly.
Sell Small Items You Won’t Reuse
In a society geared towards relentless consumerism, the minimalism wave has surprisingly gained new traction over the past few years. If you haven’t already caught on and donated all your unused items, there’s likely a multitude of things lying around your house that you no longer use that can be given a new life with someone else. Instead of donating everything, you may want to take advantage of another opportunity.
You can actually sell almost anything, even if you think no one would buy it. Instead of throwing something out or donating it, try selling it. The worst-case scenario is that no one buys, and you haven’t really lost anything. There’s likely an online marketplace for anything you may have.
There are specialized apps for selling clothes and books, or apps such as LetGo that allow you to sell your used items and give them the opportunity for a second life. Finally, you can take advantage of websites such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to sell nearly anything, if all else fails.
Scrounge for Loose Change
You may not think that all those loose coins in your couch cushions or car cup holders are valuable, but in reality, they can add up faster than you’d think. Take a few minutes to go around your living space and collect all the money and spare change you can find, and then turn all that money over to a Coinstar machine (or, if possible, your bank – many banks offer free coin counting services if you have an open account with them). You may be surprised at the quantity of money you’ll find!
Also, from here on out, keep a dedicated coin collection jar where you put all your loose change at the end of every day. Then, each time the jar becomes full, turn it over to a coin counting machine. If you rarely use cash, you can also download an app called Acorns, which connects to your checking account and rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar.
It then deposits all your “spare change” from these transactions into a separate savings account. Acorns will also help teach you how to invest this money strategically into other financial systems so that it can keep growing – sometimes even faster than a regular savings account.
Create – and Stick to – a Budget
The most tried and true method for saving money is creating a monthly (or weekly) budget and then sticking to it. When taking a look at their monthly expenses, many people discover that the majority of their income is going to small expenses that add up quickly, or maybe even subscriptions they no longer need.
To begin this, create a spreadsheet (or on physical paper, whatever works best for you) where you list all your projected sources of income. To accomplish this most strategically, with regards to income, always round down.
Always assume you’ll be making less than you actually will, in order to account for unexpected taxes or fees, cut hours, days you may have to call in sick, or, if you are paid by commission, a lack of customers. Next, make a list of all expenses you believe you will owe in the coming month.
Estimate the amount you expect you’ll spend each week on groceries, gas, bills, rent/mortgage, and subscriptions. If possible, add buffer money for medical emergencies, or set some aside to pay off loans. With expenses, always round up; that is, always assume you will be paying more than you likely will. Doing these things will help to ensure that you stay within your budget.
Beside each, keep track of your “actual income/expenses.” After accumulating enough data, you’ll begin to make an increasingly accurate budget, as well as make adjustments to your spending if necessary.
With enough creativity and practice, it’s not that hard to save up money. Time your shopping trips, gather up all your spare change, sell unneeded items, and create a budget, and you’ll already be on your way to adding nice padding to your savings account. Also, never stop looking for clever ways to keep saving; sometimes opportunities pass by quickly.