Become a frugal hippie or a cheap bastard whichever gets you there.
Here are some simple, common sense ideas to help you save little by little. These are general ideas and may not reflect your specific situation. Some of them are great and easy habits to save money. Others are still good lifestyle choices to save money, but may require more sacrifice or take some time to payoff. Some of them might sound way out of character but ultimately they are simply suggestions of ways one can save money.
I will give you some personal examples below but keep in mind the savings are different for each household, sometimes more sometimes less.
Nowadays the most important tool you can use is the Internet and your phone.
Shop around; be a smart and informed consumer. Find the best value. You can find high quality and low cost in the same product. Conversely paying a high price is no guarantee that you’re getting high quality, so don’t waste money on brand names.
You will see how just by making minor adjustments in your activities, you will have “instant money” There are probably many situations like this in your daily life that could be used to free money for building financial security. If you have any other ideas not listed below feel free to share it with us.
Mortgage or rent
- Move to a lower-cost rental.
- Share a rental.
- Negotiate your rental payments.
- Move to a smaller house.
- Refinance your mortgage.
- Make bi-weekly payments.
- Rent out a room.
“I managed to find housing in a trendy neighborhood, bigger space and better amenities $50 cheaper per month.”Annual savings: $600.
- Shop online for quotes
- Revisit or consolidate your home and auto plans.
- Raise your deductible
- Reduce coverage on older vehicles
“They offered me a $15 discount on my monthly premium.” Annual savings: $180.
- Shut off the lights when you leave a room.
- Summer time, open the windows instead of using the air conditioning.
- Winter time, wear a sweater and keep the temperature around 18C.
- Flush only for #2 or before the guests arrive.
- Lower your cable bill by ending pay channels or switching to basic cable or even get rid of cable all together and spend more time reading or with your family and friends.
“With cable alone I went from $145 a month to $95 for basic cable AND internet high speed.” Annual savings: $600.
- Get a long-distance telephone package. Long distances rates vary tremendously from company to company. Check with your long-distance provider to make sure that you're on the lowest-cost calling program given the pattern of your calls (also look into calling cards).
- Take a look at your cell-phone bills. Are you really using up all those minutes? Can you switch to a better plan?
- Get rid of the cell phone... I’m sure a lot of you wouldn’t like this one. Don’t give me the “it is for emergencies…” crap, we all use the cell phone for convenience. Ask yourself when the last time you had an emergency call was. The only urgency call I had was the cell phone company chasing me because I forgot to pay last month’s bill.
OK! If you don’t want to get rid of the cell phone get rid of the land line, obviously you do have a cell phone addiction, so you probably don’t need your land line. Sure you might say you need it in case the cell phone doesn’t work. Reality is that lately cell phones are more reliable then land lines.
- Communicating with others should cost you barely anything. Take advantage of social media, email, Facebook and Skype (everyone has a Skype account these days)
“I have to admit I have a smartphone and my bill is $50 a month (mostly data). I use a free app for texting, I have a Skype app on it and I make my long distance calls with the “Magic Jack” app (free for outbound calls). I’m guessing I’m saving about $20 at least a month compared to other plans.” Annual savings: $240
- If you’re a couple, have only one car.
- Start commuting at least a few times a week by bike.
- Don’t buy a new car, look for a 2 year old car (most of the depreciation is gone and if there were any major problems with the car it should be known).
- Use public transportation or carpool more often. In many areas, you can purchase train, bus, or subway passes to reduce the cost of commuting, or even find someone from your work who drives by your place.
- Overly in debt!? Sell your car and take the bus to work.
- Use Regular unleaded gas. A number of studies have shown that “superduperultrapremium” gasoline doesn't make much difference except maybe in your wallet, it isn't worth the extra expenses.
- Keep car usage to a minimum
- Look into car sharing services in your area.
“I bike to work every day, rain or shine and I truly believe because of it I don’t get sick very often I have more energy and more money in my pocket. In transit alone I’m sure I’m saving at least $100 a month.” Annual savings: $1200
- Use a list when grocery shopping, so you don’t buy unnecessary items that might eventually be wasted or expired.
- Check your mail or internet for coupons and flyers at your grocery store for the items you need to buy.
- Buy ingredients instead of prepared meals
- Bring your lunch to work instead of going to the restaurant.
- Buy generic or non-name brand merchandise, they’re normally made in the same brand name factories anyway.
- Check your mail and Internet for specials for restaurants if you’re dining out
- If you go to the restaurant avoid beverages (especially alcohol) or desert. Or simply, don’t go out.
- Join a wholesale superstore for better prices.
- Coffee drinkers! You should buy a mug and take your own coffee with you.
- Pop drinkers! You could eliminate your soda habit and drink water instead (it’s free and it’s better for you!).
Another way to reduce your food expenditures is to stop eating. However, this might make you feel weak and dizzy, so it’s probably not a viable long-term strategy.
“I used to get a coffee every day and sometimes I’d get two at a cost of about $2 each. Now I make my own coffee.” Annual savings: about $480.
“I also use to go out for lunch every day, at a cost of $10 to $20 per meal. Now I bring leftovers or a sandwich, fruits and snacks at a cost of less than $5.” Annual savings: $1,200.
Clothing and accessories solution
- Avoid dry cleanable clothing.
- Don't chase the latest fashions.
- Minimize accessories like jewelry, handbags, etc.
- Use coupons to shop.
- Shop at thrifty stores. You would be surprised by the selection and quality of the clothes.
- Wait for things to go on sale before buying them. Many stores have buy-1-get-1-free type of deals.
- Buy generic or non-name brand merchandise.
“I rarely buy new clothes. I use my clothes and shoes until they are threadbare. T-shirt and jeans never go out of style” Annual savings: maybe $500.
- Cancel magazine or newspaper subscriptions. Share magazines and newspapers with coworkers and friends. The Internet is a great source of information and articles for free.
- Go to the movies when tickets are discounted or wait until they come out on video. Movie night out can be very expensive especially if you get pop and popcorn.
- Borrow books from the library, read books on how to manage your finances if you’re having trouble falling asleep. Library is also a great source for movies!
“I try not to go out often (clubs, theater restaurant, ballet or opera). I only go out for special occasions.” Annual savings: maybe $860 including canceled subscription.
“Traveling is a big one, everybody likes to travel (I think!).When I am out of debt and my savings accounts are nice and healthy, I will travel. But for now, I will go camping. Many people pay for their getaways with their credit card. This approach can set you back tremendously. Rule of thumb is, if you can’t pay in cash it is because you can’t afford it and shouldn't be traveling.” Annual savings: $3,000.
- Stop buying cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, candies, chips and pop. If you’re a chain smoker or a heavy drinker this might be easier said than done, but this is probably one of your biggest expense per month.
- Walk to work.
- Bike to work.
- Stay active; it will cost you less in medical expenses in the long run.
- Cancel your gym membership. Keep yourself in shape by doing exercise outdoors (running, biking, playing with the kids).
- Go on a diet and lose weight Not only will you save money on food, look and feel better, but your long term healthcare costs should also fall dramatically.
Cancel Gym membership. Possible Annual savings: $720.
Quit smoking. Possible Annual savings: $1825.
Stop drinking. Possible Annual savings: $1040.
- Find an inexpensive hobby or turn a hobby into a supplemental income while doing it, if you have skills that are portable and can be put to profitable use. Pick something you enjoy and are good at.
- Save your time and pay your bills online, by phone or at an ATM.
- Check your bank statements to see if an all-inclusive monthly fee is for you.
- Save all your loose change. Consider adding your loonies and twonies to the savings pile.
- Gather together all that stuff you don't use anymore and organize a yard sale in the spring.
- Only shop for the things that you need when there’s a 20%, 40% or even 60% sales. (that shows how much markup there is on retail products)
- Stay busy, you will have less time to spend money.
- Wait for things to go on sale before buying them.
Avoid going “shopping”. Chances are you will end up wanting something you didn't need it in the first place. Annual savings: probably $1,300.
- Be closer to your partner, live in a smaller place.
- Get rid of your cell phone and communicate with letters. Your subjects will become more meaningful.
- Share a vehicle and drive your partner to and from work. People love the idea of a personal chauffeur.
- Take the time to have your morning coffee and muffin at home with your better half. That’s a good way to start your day.
- Avoid going to restaurants. Cook for your spouse and take leftovers to work.
- Get rid of cable all together and spend more time with your significant other. You would be surprised what might happen if you’re not sitting in front the TV.
- Avoid going out and try to do more activities at home with the kids or around the yard.
- Go for a walk every day. It’s free, healthy and brings people together.
Becoming a hippie
Ultimately! If you have started following all of this advice and sell your house, live in a commune, shower once a week, ride your bike, plant your own vegetables, knit your own shirts with old drapes, hang out at the library, head to the food bank for a night out and sell homemade crafts, then I’m sorry you have become a hippie.
Remember: Be patient, start saving money today! Don't give up! It will be WORTH IT.