In today's day and age, it's easy to get caught up in frivolous overspending. We live in a society that is always pushing the latest and best gadgets, and with the added temptation of convenient online shopping, it can be hard to stay within budget. Hard, but not impossible. With just a few small adjustments to everyday life, a lot of those extra spending habits can be kicked to the curb.
Writing a grocery list is the easy part; it's keeping to the list that gets difficult. Grocery stores are filled with impulse buys on the ends of each aisle, at the center kiosks, and at the checkout stand. All those little extras that no one truly needs are on full display every few feet. By writing a detailed shopping list and following it to the letter, you can ensure no unnecessary items find their way into your cart. If the urge to deviate from the list is still too strong, many grocery stores allow you to do your shopping online and pick it up or have it delivered. This is an excellent way to stop impulse shopping and save money at the checkout.
It's natural to gravitate toward the name brand items while shopping. They are the ones we recognize from commercials and by their reputation. But it is also often the name brands that are the most expensive. Shopping generic can save a ton of money on the necessities that we always need. In most cases, the ingredients in a generic product are the same as those in a name brand equivalent. It's not the quality difference that you're paying for, it's the actual name on the label that can jack up the prices. Whether grocery shopping or at a retail store, purchasing generic or sale items can help you avoid throwing away those extra dollars.
Eating out at restaurants can be a real treat, especially after a long or stressful day. The idea of leaving the cooking, serving, and cleaning up to someone else can be quite appealing. But frequent dining out can also have a huge impact on your wallet. Cooking homemade meals is a great money-saving strategy. Making larger recipes such as casseroles or pots of soup will usually lead to leftovers, which means one night of cooking can cover 2-3 meals. Cooking in bulk is another great option that allows meals to be frozen for future use.
For some, coffee is a vital necessity to start the morning on the right foot. With coffee shops scattered all over town and drive-thru options available on every corner, it's easy to rely on that quick stop for your favorite cup of joe. But at $5-$7 a cup, this habit can become a drain on the budget. Taking the time to brew a cup of coffee at home can ensure your favorite morning beverage doesn't become an overbearing monthly expense. There is an endless list of coffee makers, K-Pod brewers, and espresso machines available for the home. Whether your morning routine consists of a cup of black coffee or a flavored latte, making it from the comforts of your own kitchen can go a long way towards cutting back on spending.
No matter what your daily job is, there are lunch options right at your fingertips. Companies have private cafeterias, taco trucks can be found in corner lots, and restaurants are everywhere. The opportunities to waste money on lunches are endless. Packing a lunch at home will not only cut back on costly dining options, but it can have the added benefit of being healthier. Bringing sandwiches, fruits, or veggies can cost mere pennies per day. Using a reusable water bottle can also help save money and has the extra bonus of being environmentally savvy. Flats of bottled water and vending machine purchases will be a thing of the past and the extra pennies will stay where they belong: in your wallet.
The cost of gasoline can put a real strain on a monthly budget, but for commuters, it is a necessary expense in order to drive to and from work. Depending on how many miles you drive, the traffic levels you encounter, and the type of car you have, this mode of transportation can be a heavy financial burden. With fluctuating gas prices and their accompanying taxes, it can be difficult to plan ahead for exactly how much to set aside. Carpooling with co-workers can relieve some of this monetary stress while also making the commute more enjoyable. By sharing the driving with others, everyone is able to keep a little extra in their pocketbook by saving on gas. Ridesharing also helps in alleviating traffic and avoids putting extra mileage on your car.
Smoking, excessive drinking, and other vices are more than just a detriment to your health; the damage they can do to your wallet is excessive. When purchased in small quantities, it can seem like a meager amount to spend on a bad habit. However, when all that gets added together, it can often lead to hundreds of wasted dollars every month. Cutting back or quitting these vices altogether can result in significant savings that can be re-invested into other necessities. Even making the change to having a drink at home instead of out at a bar can save quite a bit of money. Leaving these habits behind can be difficult, but seeing the extra cash in your bank account will make it all worthwhile.
Today's commerce revolves around credit and the debt that accompanies it. It's not uncommon for people to have wallets filled with plastic and not a single bill of cash. But for every purchase paid by credit card, there is a percentage of interest that gets attached. A single purchase that is not immediately paid off could end up costing double, or even triple, its original amount. Credit cards are the quickest way to overspend in today's society. Using cash to shop can help you to stay within your budget by avoiding those extravagant interest rates. Debit cards are another tool that may lead to overspending. Swiping plastic without carefully tracking the expenditures can quickly send your checking account into the negative and accrue those pesky overdraft fees.
Spending more cash means having more change. Saving your pennies for a rainy day is an age-old adage, but by keeping your coins, you can create a whole new money-saving strategy that will surprise you when it adds up. Find a large jar and dump your change into it at the end of each day. This savings jar can be designated as a vacation fund or extra cash to pad the bank account. When it is full, count it out, take it to the bank and start again.
It's natural to want what you can't have. It's also natural to want to be on equal ground with your friends and neighbors. But buying a bigger home, a fancier car, or other high-end items can often lead to suffocating debt that can take years to climb out of. Living within your means is the most important tool for saving money. Trying to compete with those around you at the detriment to your own financial security will only serve to destroy your budget. Keeping purchases within your own financial level will enable you to save money and grow economically at your own rate, which can lead to a more profitable future.
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