Well, I know for a fact that none of you won 900 million dollars this weekend....did I get sucked in? Yep, sure did...but I limited myself to spending only $10 in lottery tickets for New York State's Powerball...which broke the record for the highest winning amount ever! 900 million! The crazy part? No winners means it is now bumped up to roughly $1.3 BILLION dollars! Hey, someone's gotta win, right? So everyone thinks "it could be me!". Good luck people. I noticed because of this record high winning amount, everyone started talking about what they would do with all that money if they won. It's fun to fanaticize. Let's just be realistic. Don't get your hopes up too much that one day you will win millions in some lottery winning or that the Publishers Clearning House people will show up at your front door with balloons and a larger than life sized check to present to you. Yes, I know, sorry...I am totally killing all of your dreams right now, huh? I'll stop being the bearer of bad news or that painful reality check.
So, for the rest of us who are not lottery winners, money issues are most likely something you deal with on a regular basis. It seems that even people with good paying jobs are still struggling these days. I think some of it is simply people living outside of their means. Everyone sees what everyone else has and in this world of want want want, it's so easy to get sucked in to wanting all the high end things we see around us. Trust me, I am guilty of this too. Honestly, I think everyone is, to some extent. One of the biggest changes to try to make is with your thinking. Don't compare yourself with everyone else. Not everyone can afford the same things and news flash; even if you technically can afford it, doesn't mean you need to spend it. One way the rich stay rich is with good money management! If you make some simple daily changes in your spending habits...converting over to the frugal way of living...you might be able to rid yourself of some of those money stressors that seems to plague so many of us! I am not saying you have to do all of these either, even picking just a few to follow will free up a few bucks here and there...and who wouldn't like that, right? So hear me out and consider giving some of these a try!
1. Using Coupons- I am not talking about extreme couponing here, because frankly, I find that to be pretty ridiculous. I don't need, nor do I want 48937 bottles of ketchup! I am just talking about using coupons you either get out of your Sunday Newspaper or ones you print offline. No need to buy things just because you have a coupon either...keep that in mind. I have done that before and ya know what? It just goes unused and totally defeats the purpose lol. If you really want to get into couponing, you can research the hell out of it and literally become a Pro. I personally do not take it to that level. What I do however, is save roughly 25% off of my grocery shopping trips. So, if I am about to spend $100 in groceries, I can actually save about $25 just from spending maybe 15 minutes clipping or printing some coupons on things I know I need and use. The last time I filled my car up with gas, it cost $22....so there ya go! What I saved on a grocery bill, put gas in my car for the week! Sweet deal, right?
2. Ditch Cable Television- Oh my yes! In the world of Hulu and Netflix, seriously, who needs to spend $100+ a month on cable?!? Almost anything worth watching can be found on Netflix and at a fraction of the cost! What a big chunk of savings each month!
3. Check into Better Cell Phone Providers- Of course everyone needs a cell phone these days, that is a given! But I notice people have a wide range of what they pay for their service each month. I suggest to really shop around and see what fits your needs best. I won't make any specific recommendations here because the type of service plans people need are so different, and your location can be a factor too...but knowing what type of service you need, check out what is available in your area and at what cost. You could save quite a bit!
4. Go Generic- Not with all things, mind you...There are many items I stick with the real deal for, but for many things there is virtually no difference between the leading brand and the generic. Compare labels. If something consists of the exact same ingredients, why pay more for the name and packaging? And with other things, you quickly learn what is ok to go generic with and what isn't. So it's a trial and error thing.
5. Check Out Discount Stores- The specific store I have recently come to love, Aldi's, can be located all over on the Eastern half of the US. However, I'm sure there are several other such stores that you can check out in your local area. For years I stayed away from this store because I thought they just carried the bottom grade type of stuff. I am fairly health conscious, so that didn't seem like anything I wanted part of. Then, not too long ago, some friends told me they actually have decent products, even organic, at very reasonable prices! Ok, so I checked it out, and they were certainly right! I can get a lot of my grocery shopping done at Aldi's, spending much less than I would elsewhere. I will give you one example. I don't really like to drink regular milk, but I really enjoy Almond milk. I was spending about $4.50 for a half gallon of Almond milk, and at Aldi's I can get it for around $2.50. A two dollar savings just on that one product alone! I also get my son lots of organic items for his school lunches from their too, always spending less than at other stores. I love the savings!
6. Bring Your Lunch- If you tend to go out for lunch often during your work day, try opting in for packing a lunch. You can often use left overs or plan a head to make something you'd want to have. It's great because you can get creative and explore many options for lunch ideas! And this can save you a ton of money everyday!
7. Groupon- Excuse me? Group-WHAT? If you are not familiar with Groupon, check it out! You can find lots of great deal on restaurants, activities, vacations, products, and more! So, before you plan a date night with your special someone, or an activity for the family, check into it for some possible money saving deals!
8. Shut Off The Lights!- Do you remember your mom yelling at you for leaving lights on when you left a room? Her reasons are the same as mine! Lights on, means you are using electricity. That is all good when you are in the room to use it...but when you aren't, take the one second to flip that switch! This goes for other things too, like the tv for example. You can also help cut costs by being mindful of how often and efficiently you use your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, etc. What I mean is, if your dishwasher is only about half full...wait to run it. Trust me, if your house is anything like mine, it won't take long to get a few more dirty dishes added. Then run it once it's totally full. Same goes for doing a load of laundry. You might find yourself running it less, which will save you money! Also, make sure that all appliances you purchase have the Energy Star sticker on them. This means they are certified to run on less energy than other models. Another step you can take is to unplug things that aren't needed all the time. Perhaps a stereo, microwave, or coffee machine. Even when these items are off, they are still drawing on some electricity. I once read that just unplugging your microwave when it is not being used can save you $3 a month. Doesn't sound like a whole lot, but that is $36 a year, which could cover 4 months of your Netflix bill!
9. Yard Sales & Thrift Store- Call me crazy if you want to, but I love yard sales and thrift stores! I can find such great items for a fraction of the retail cost! I seriously save a ton of money this way! I can't even tell you how many items I have found new items with tags still on them both at yard sales and thrift stores, so it's not even "used" stuff really. And I have a son who grows like crazy, so I love getting him beautiful clothes for super cheap! He grows so fast, why spend a lot of money on all new clothes all the time? Plus, he's a boy. He spills and stains. I am going to be a lot less mad that he just spilled grape juice down a shirt I spend $2 on, instead of one I spend $20 on. And he still dresses nice...in fact, we always get compliments on how well we dress and I laugh inside because I'll think to myself, "yeah I spent $5 on this entire outfit"....haha! It's my secret thrill to tell you the truth!
10. Don't Use Credit Cards- Credit cards are great for emergencies or for convenience, but please, do yourself a favor and do not rack up a credit card balance! I know many people will use their credit cards often, but pay off their bill in full when it arrives. That's fine. But if you are putting food, gas, household items, and gifts on credit cards and are not paying that bill in full when it comes, you are seriously doing yourself financial harm! Take a look at the interest you are paying each month on that balance you owe! Often times credit cards will charge 12-27% interest on your balance! And paying only the minimum amount due? Oh gosh, you will never get a head that way! The best thing to do is never start doing this because it is so hard to dig yourself out! But, if you are already in this situation, do everything you can to pay off the balance you owe! You could save yourself so much in monthly interest!