For me, the key to successfully saving money is to do so without affecting your lifestyle. Sometimes, all you need to do is to tweak it a bit to save hundreds of dollars.
It was easy to save when I started working after years of living a broke student lifestyle. While I did inflate my lifestyle a little with my first job, I would largely save any raises and bonuses.
I got a 35 percent raise at the end of my first year. I kept on living in the same apartment with a few roommates, cycling to work, and looking for bargains for everything I wanted. My raise was automatically sent to a savings account on payday.
Effectively, my spending money was the same as the previous year. If you manage to do that for a year or two, you will really boost your savings.
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I also challenge every single line of my budget. I have been with the same internet provider for seven years, but at each renewal, I call them and push for the new customer discount.
It’s a 10-minute phone call that saves me $20 per month, and I still get the same product in return.
See the logic there? There is no point in paying more for a service that you can get for less. During that yearly spending audit, I also assess other areas of spending. I used to subscribe to five or six magazines.
I loved spending an evening or two per week curled up on my couch with my magazines, and I even took them along on my extensive business travels. Then life evolved, and I realized that most of the magazines sat unread on the coffee table.
I cancelled the subscriptions and I don't miss them. They no longer bring me value.
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I used to hang out with a friend once a week and spend $50 or more on drinks and dinner. I once suggested we go to her place instead, and I brought better food and better wine for half the cost. We had the same amount of fun, and now we generally hang out at home.
And you can make an auto transfer of that $50 right into a savings account. Or send it to your credit card and kill your debt earlier. Once your debt payments are gone, keep making the same payments into savings.
Small sums like that add up, and before you know it, you will have hundreds or thousands in savings. My nights out? $2,600 a year. The magazines? $200 a year. The internet negotiation? $250. Over $3,000 saved painlessly.
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10 Ways to Save Painlessly
- Try the store brand and do a blind test. Keep buying it if you can't tell the difference.
- Cook vegetarian recipes once a week – there are lots of delicious dishes that don't need meat.
- Bring your own bottle of water and a few snacks if you go to a park, or even to the mall.
- Review your cable package and make sure you watch enough of the premium channels to justify the costs.
- Christmas comes around every year. Book your tickets back home as early as possible, not at the last minute.
- If you see bargains that would make good gifts, buy them for an upcoming birthday.
- Instead of buying new clothes, dig into your closet or buy fun accessories to change the look of an outfit.
- Create alerts for price drops on stuff you really want.
- Always Google “coupon” or “promo code” alongside the thing you're buying before checking your online cart out.
- If you threw away food last week, buy less this week. Should you finish it all, you can always open a can of tuna on the last day or shop a day earlier.