I recently had a wake-up call with my finances when I realized that I was spending too much money and needed to scale it back. I thought I have always been wise with how I spent my money, but I was really going out of control with buying clothes, eating out, etc. So, I buckled down and found a few ways for me to save money. Here are my tips:
1. Use cash instead of card.
Using card may be convenient, but it’s also dangerous when you know you have a pool of money in your bank account. If you withdraw a specific amount of cash once a week and use that as your budget for the week, you can see the actual amount of money you have and will feel less compelled to spend more.
2. Cash in your coins.
Coins can be annoying to carry around or collect at the bottom of your bag, but they do have value. If you save them in a jar and take them to a CoinStar machine or even wrap them in coin rolls, you may be surprised how much you end up with.
3. Find cash back apps.
Ebates has changed the way I buy everything online. All you have to do is search the website for a store and shop through the website, or better yet, add the widget to your Safari browser. Some stores even offer Double Cash Back and In-Store Cash Back, so you can find more ways to earn money.
There are also other apps like Servy, where you receive money back from reviewing restaurants—all you have to do is take a photo of your receipt. Featured restaurants usually have $3 reimbursements and many of them have $1. Servy hosts weekly Servy Streak Contests, where app users can win $10 for evaluating a featured restaurant (yours truly won not too long ago!).
4. Unsubscribe from email lists.
I thought I was doing myself a favor by subscribing to receive emails from my favorite stores, but it turns out I was just tempting myself to shop more. So, I went on an unsubscribing spree and have not felt the urge to shop.
5. Save your receipts.
I went on a huge online shopping spree this spring and for some reason convinced myself that my shoe size was half a size down than I’ve been buying—and it wasn’t. So now I’m stuck with shoes that are too small for me and no receipt to return them. Always save them because you never know when you’ll need to make a return.
6. Keep the tags on your clothes.
I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and one of her tips was to cut the tags off of your clothes and add them into your wardrobe right away so they can feel like they’re truly part of your closet. Honestly, I did that, and I’ve regretted cutting a lot of tags. Though that book has some great tips, I advise avoiding that one in particular. You may end up realizing that you don’t like that piece of clothing after all, so it’s better to delay cutting off the tags. Just make sure you save your receipt (see above).
7. Find ways to sell what you don’t want anymore.
This was a big one for me. After cutting the tags off of clothes and wearing them only once, I felt guilty about just donating them when they didn’t even get enough love. This is where an app like Poshmark really helped because I felt less guilty about getting rid of clothes and knowing that they were going to a better home.
8. Cut cable.
I used to love watching all sorts of shows on cable, from E! to Bravo to Freeform, but my wallet sure didn’t. So one day I decided to take the plunge and switch my plan to only receive basic cable. It’s safe to say that I have survived and it actually feels way better to not be as invested with TV. Yeah, it sucks that I have to catch up on shows later, but to be fair, I’m usually busy or not home when these shows air, so I’m not missing much.
9. Dedicate a day to meal prep for the week.
As convenient as delivery or takeout can be, it adds up. Cooking a large meal at the beginning of the week or simply planning what you will be eating will not only save you money, but also the time it would take to figure out what you’re going to eat.
10. Bring your own bottle of water.
Did you know that you’re allowed to bring in your own bottle of water into a movie theater? I learned that when a movie theater employee told me I could’ve brought my own after I spent $7 for a bottle of Dasani (true story). Bring your own water everywhere you go. It’ll also save you from the temptations of expensive sodas.
11. Avoid using shopping with store baskets when you can.
There have been studies showing that grocery baskets or carts trick your mind into buying more, and it is absolutely true. Carry all of your items to the checkout line when you can—your wallet will thank you.