Let’s face it.
There’s really nothing quite like the feeling of opening up your banking account, only to find that once again, you’re in the red until next pay day. As we continue to consume, Harvard bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren coined the “50/30/20” budgeting rule, which states 50 percent of your (after-tax income) should be spent on “needs,” 30 percent should go to “wants,” and 20 percent should go to savings and debt reduction. We’re here to help you make the most of your 30% simply by offering some simple tricks to squeeze the most out of your hard-earned cash. More often than not, you’ll find that our tips to saving a few extra bucks a year, will not only make you more financially fit, but also lead to a more fulfilling, intrinsic lifestyle for both you and your loved ones.
1) Shift your perspective
It’s easy to go down the slippery slope of consumerism. Thinking critically about every facet of ourselves or the products is the first step to being a financially fit consumer. Questioning is key. Considering ethical make up, source, and quality of your purchases can almost instantaneously sway your opinion of a particular product. Research some of your favorite brands, and consider where these products are being produced, and by whom–know where your dollar is going. You’ll often be shocked by the information you come across.
2) Get a green thumb
The gradual increase in produce costs often leave a good majority of Americans feeling rather apathetic towards eating healthy. But, investing a bit of time in growing fruits and vegetables in your home garden will not only save you significant amounts of cash, but can also have the power to save your life. Think about it. A $1 packet of seeds can create a plethora of meals that will sustain and satiate your family, while simultaneously keeping their risk for heart disease and diabetes at an all time low.
3) Skip the ATM
ATM fees add up, but a few simple tricks will help you make the most of nearly every transaction you perform. Plan in advance. We’d never frown upon spontaneity, though we do believe that it can be forseen. If you know you’re going to be out on the town and need some extra cash, grab it ahead of time. Performing a later transaction on the fly means that you’ll be limited in your ATM choices, and will more likely get hit with a fee. And finally, have a bit of willpower. Instead of grabbing $20 here and there, try withdrawing $100. You’ll be surprised at how much more cautious you are with a larger bill rather than a smaller one.
4) Skip disposable beverages
Consumerist.com recently claimed that the average American worker is spending more than $20 a week on coffee, for a yearly average of $1,092. While in comparison, commuting costs for the average worker come out to around $1,476 per year. Enough said.
5) Volunteer your time
Volunteering your time can not only be personally rewarding , but help you financially as well. Though volunteer positions lack monetary payment, they inevitably help you save money. Volunteering for particular events usually allows for free admission (and sometimes other deliverables) for both you and your family. Volunteering also provides networking opportunities, which often pave the way for additional discounts and opportunities from those you happen to brush shoulders with.
6) Live on a short fuse
If you’re like most Americans, you currently have at least 40 applicances currently plugged in at your home that aren’t being used. According to the U.S. Department of Enerygy, the average U.S. household spends about $1,900/year on energy costs. Moreover, the DOE says that anywhere from 5% to 10% of your residential electricity is sapped by devices that are plugged in 24 hours a day.
7) Find fun in community resources
Before you plunk down your hard-earned money to join a gym or for various types of entertainment and activities, consider what your community has to offer — usually at little or no cost. Think local parks or jogging trails, county library, museums, galleries, concerts, and festivals!
8) Keep a shoebox
This may seem like something out of your great grandma’s bag of tricks, but saving $10 or so a week can certainly allow for some financial cushion. If you’re like most Americans, you’ve dealt with big banks charging astronomical checking account, penalization, debit, and overdraft fees. Save yourself the trouble and keep a little personal stash that you are responsible for.
9) Saddle up
Lately, a lot of folks are leaving their car in the garage, and making their commute to work two-wheeled. Gearing up atop your bicycle will not only save you loads on fuel for your vehicle, but can also open up a whole new world of possiblities, all while decreasing vehicle emmisions, and getting your body in great shape.
10) Practice delayed gratification
This notion goes back to thinking critically. If you’re out shopping and see something you simply must have, wait a few days to buy it. Usually, you’ll have forgotten all about it. In the mean time, shop around online to see if you can access the item for a lesser price. Chances are you’ll be able to waive tax fees, or even find the item for much less than you initially bargained for.