Learn useful saving tricks and live frugally for one month to see how much you can save. If you are like most Americans you are spending more than you earn and are finding yourself deeper and deeper in debt. It seems that no matter how much money you earn you can never get ahead and you may feel that there are only two alternatives, get a second job or continue falling into debt. But there is one more option many people don’t consider, spend less.
You could go through the process of tracking your income minus expenses and setting up a budget but for many people just the thought of writing out a budget, and then following it, sounds painful. Maybe the best way to see how much you can save each month is to stop spending cold turkey. Make a pact with yourself to cut out all the extras that you can live without and see just how much you have left at the end of the month. You may be surprised at how much money you can save.
What extras can you cut back on? Once you really start looking at your daily routine you will see how many times you spend money on unnecessary items. One or two dollars here and there can add up quickly. You will just have to start teaching yourself to think twice before spending and to think of alternatives that are less costly. Here are some ideas on how to cut back and save money:
Stop drinking specialty coffees – Make your own coffee or cappuccino at home and forego stopping at the coffee shop on the way to work. At four dollars a coffee for thirty days you will save $120 in one month. That’s like a monthly payment on your cell bill or electric bill.
Don’t eat out – at all – That’s right, refrain from eating out for all three meals each day and you will see the savings add up. While your grocery bill will be higher than you are used to, the savings will far outweigh what you spend on groceries. One person can eat three healthy meals each day on about $60 each week for groceries. That’s all your meals for about $240 a month. If you eat out only for dinner each night you will spend at least $6.00 a day which adds up to $180 in one month. And you still have to eat breakfast and lunch. If you just can’t give up eating out then try eating out less and add up the savings for the month.
Don’t pay for entertainment – Instead of going out to a movie or renting one watch a movie you already own. Or ask friends to do a movie swap so you all can save money. For other entertainment ideas try going on a walk in the evening, check out any free local museums, plays or concerts or hang out with friends at home and play board or card games. Having fun shouldn’t cost a lot of money and you will enjoy the time spent with friends.
Don’t buy books, borrow them – If you love to read it is easy to spend fifty dollars or more each month on books and can put a dent in your income. Try using the local library instead or buy your books at a used book store for half the cost. Better yet, start up a book swap with friends and family and then you will always be able to read the latest books for very little money.
Evaluate transportation costs – If you and your spouse or a friend can carpool instead of using two cars you will save up to one-half of your gasoline cost. Or consider using public transportation whenever possible. If you have to use your car, try organizing your errands so you only have to make one trip instead of driving all over town.
Don’t shop unless you absolutely need to – Browsing and window shopping are dangerous to your wallet. Refrain from shopping for one month except for the essentials like groceries and personal products. Bring a list and make sure you stick to it so you don’t end up with a lot of unnecessary items in your cart. Learn to ask yourself this question before any purchase; is this a need or a want? If you truly need it for survival, then buy it. If you just want it because it’s pretty, put it back on the shelf and walk away. You will be surprised at how much you don’t spend when you only buy the needs.
There are so many more ways you can stop spending unnecessary money for your one month test so be creative and think of ways of your own. Throughout the month, either put aside money as you are saving it or write down the amount you didn’t spend to keep track of how much you are saving. At the end of the month you will see what you have saved and this will help you decide which changes you want to continue to keep saving money. By sticking to your new frugal lifestyle you will finally have the savings and security that you have always wanted without working more or going further into debt.