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We all save money in our own way. Some of us a little better than the others. Some of us not at all. Chances are that no matter how much you think you are saving, you can probably find a few more ways to save money. I wouldn’t recommend going all stingy to save every last penny, but there ARE times when saving like Scrooge is the requirement of the day. I have been there. I am sharing a few tips that helped me.
1. Cash beats credit
Last year, when my husband and I needed to maximize our savings to pay off our credit cards which had been stretched to their limits by some unforeseen expenses and emergencies, we made a plan to make most of our purchases with cash. We calculated the average amount we spend on groceries and other items every month – even eating out. Then we started withdrawing a set amount of money at the beginning of every pay-period and paid for everything with that. We estimated a bit generously so we’d not run short of money for groceries. Whatever amount of cash we had left at the end of the period, went into our savings (my piggy bank).
2. Plan all expenses
We tried to plan as many of our expenses as we could. We even went without a fridge for 6 months so we could save enough to pay it off. We didn’t need to do it – we had enough credit to buy one using a credit card, but we did because it was easier on our wallets. It helped that we live in an area that gets extremely cold during winters and our fridge died during winter. We used our mud-room as a “fridge”. I used to store all vegetables and fruits there.
3. Want vs. need
Everytime we wanted to buy something we would ask ourselves – Do I need this or do I want this? This is a quick litmus test for a “buy or not” decision. We bought a used car early this year after that decision passed the “want vs. need” test a few times. I have been asking myself that question for the past 18 months for a laptop that I want. So far the answer is “want” and that is why I haven’t made that purchase yet. The day the answer comes back as “I need a laptop”, I will go out and buy one. Until then I am salting away a little bit of cash at every opportunity so when the time comes, I won’t be taxing our wallets or credit cards.
4. List it out
When you go grocery shopping, make a list. I have this rule – anything that is not on the list, won’t be bought even if we have run out of it and need to buy it. It goes on the shopping list for the next week and I try to make do without it for that week. Works well with items that aren’t critical like dal or rice or spices. Not so well with necessities like milk but then I rarely forget to put the necessities on the list. Now, I am the biggest culprit when it comes to breaking this rule so I arm my husband with the list and send him off for shopping. He has the kind of discipline that one needs to stick to the list.
5. Don’t forget yourself
Saving doesn’t have to mean that you deny yourself little pleasures like a new dress or books or a meal out. My husband and I take out a small amount as an “allowance” for ourselves every month/pay period. That money is ours to do with as we please. I usually save it and then use it to buy things that I normally wouldn’t buy on the household budget without feeling guilty. Like a nice little dress that takes my fancy as I walk through Macy’s. Or even a laptop when it becomes a need rather than a want.
6. Pinching pennies (and nickels and dimes and quarters) can be fun
I found a fun way to save. When I spend cash to buy groceries or lunch/breakfast from the office cafeteria, I put all the change I get back, in my piggy bank. (Yes, I have one). In 4-6 months I usually save about 80-100 dollars. I then use that money to buy something for the house that normally wouldn’t pass the “want vs. need” test. I have bought a toaster, fancy bedsheets and towels and other items in the past with money saved this way. It’s fun. Try it!
Pic credit: Sanja Gjenero
Cee Kay is a mother of two girls, a networking professional, a cooking enthusiast and
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