If you are feeling the burn OUTSIDE of the gym, you might be a victim of inflation nation. Let’s talk tips to keep a few, or maybe even many, extra dollars in your pocket. You earned it, don’t give it all away.
The Big Three
When talking about saving money, there are thousands of little things that can save you a buck or two, but you may be better served by looking for the bigger wins.
My first 7 tips come from what I am going to refer to as the “BIG THREE”: Housing, Transportation, and Food. On average, these three categories tend to take up a good portion a monthly cashflow.
Nothing says “I’m an adult” more than having your own place. Well, except maybe being able to pay your bills. Especially in locations where rents are high, adding a roommate to your household can be a huge win. For all my fellow introverts out there, I know it can feel like a big sacrifice, but adopt a roommate you really love, or one who has a different schedule than your own. You might find you have the place to yourself more than you anticipated. I know this is a change that might be hard to make today, or even within the next few months, but keep it in the back of your mind as your lease comes up for renewal. (Extra benefit: If you partake on your roommate’s snacks in small increments, they hardly ever notice.)
With record high temperatures I don’t recommend forgoing air conditioning all together, but be more aware of your usage when you leave the house. A/C can make up over 60% of your electricity bill in the summer months. This leads to bills that can be extremely high and take you by surprise. That being said, don’t forget to keep it cool enough for your pets who are anxiously awaiting your return.
Even as we see a bit of a break in the gas price surge, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your transportation practices. If there is little flexibility in your options to get to work, like carpooling or biking, there is still probably some dollars to be saved on nights and weekends. Get thoughtful with your errands so you can knock them out in one trip rather than a nightly ride in the gas guzzler. For my city folk, skip the cab, and learn a new bus route.
- GROCERY STORE
For those who don’t know, this is the place where you buy food to bring into your home, and then you can eat it whenever you want. Most of the time it’s cheaper, too! Get that store savings card, make a list, and look for products you enjoy that happen to be on sale this week. Even if, like me, you’re a creature of habit, don’t be afraid to choose a new brand of peanut butter if it’s going to save you a few bucks!
Ok, I know the grocery store might not be as exciting as checking out all the newest culinary delights, so let’s get into some money savers when dining out.
- WHERE ARE YOU EATING?: There can be a big monetary difference between full service restaurants and places where you order at the counter. DO NOT save extra money by being a bad tipper! If you are choosing to eat at a restaurant with a waitstaff, calculate that extra 20% (or more) in your brain before you enter the door. If it’s going to be too much of a stretch to tip, be kind to our friends in the service industry and come back when it’s more doable.
- RESTAURANT EXTRAS: You can have a great experience, get a good meal, and be a generous tipper without having to break the bank. Restaurants love to catch you with the extras. Opt for water over alcohol or soda, share an appetizer, and maybe skip the meat tonight. You’d be surprised how much you can reduce the bill by choosing just one of these alternatives. Or do all three.
- FREQUENCY: If you are eating at restaurants every night, you might find the novelty wearing off quick, and your paycheck disappearing even quicker. Try to space out your trips to restaurants and maybe replace them with date nights cooking at home. If you are wondering where the food will come from, see above: (GROCERY STORE).
Ok, let’s wrap this up with a couple of miscellaneous items outside of the big three.
- SUBSCRIPTIONS: If you are scrolling your subscription menus more than watching the content, it may be time to eliminate a service or two. If you want to go one step further, pull out those credit card statements and see if you have forgotten to cancel any subscriptions you no longer use.
- CLOTHING: Before you plan another shopping trip, take a deep dive into your closet and take stock of what you own and the frequency in which you wear your items. Remove things you doubt you will wear again and get yourself to a second hand store. (Trigger warning: selling your clothes at certain second hand stores can cause you to question all of your life choices.) If they decide your items are worthy of purchase, they usually offer you cash or store credit. Take a look around and your 5 unworn pieces might turn into your new favorite vintage shirt!
- CELL PHONE: “Hello? Can you hear me?” There is a lot of money to be saved here. With just a bit of research and no change in habit I was able to reduce my monthly cell phone plan from $118 to $35. Check out your previous data usage and question the need for the unlimited plan. WIFI is EVERYWHERE. Ask if your provider has a cheaper prepaid plan (all you’re really doing is paying on a different date), and try to take advantage of any loyalty programs. If you’ve exhausted all efforts, threaten to leave. It’s funny how often a new offer will suddenly “pop up” in these instances. Also, just because we have been placed into a system with a standard 2 year payment plan, does not mean you need to upgrade your device on this schedule. Think of your cell phone like a car: if it has a bad battery or a shattered windshield, replace the parts, not the whole!
I believe if you take advantage of just a few of these tips, you might be surprised at how quickly you can free up between $150-$300/mo. without too much sweat…unless of course you decide to go rogue and trash that A/C altogether.
If you are looking for more ways to be intentional and fill your pockets, check out the Parthean coaching app and get educated. Finally.