Living within a budget can be tough. Financial pressures, both big and small, mean couples and families are looking for more ways to save money. However, many may not know where to start or worry that saving money might mean missing out on fun or indulgences.
Luckily, small changes could add up to big savings by the end of the year. And depending on the change, the only thing you may notice is more money in your bank account! Here are five practical and easy ways to start saving money.
Learn grocery store tricks (and how to fight them)
Retail stores are designed to encourage shopping, and the local grocery is no exception. While you might find it easy to stay away from some stores, it’s harder to avoid the supermarket. However, knowing a few of the tricks groceries often use can help lower your food bill.
One common tactic used by grocery stores is carefully selecting the music they play. Studies have shown that shoppers tend to move at a slower pace when they hear slow-tempo music. The extra time spent in the store provides more opportunity to add items to the cart and spend more money. Popping in a pair of headphones and listening to faster music can help combat this.
Groceries also use the shop’s layout to their advantage. Yummy smelling baked goods and brightly coloured produce are placed near entrances to stimulate appetite and encourage spending. More expensive brand name items are put on shelves at eye level, so they’re the first thing you’re likely to see. Having a snack before shopping and scanning the top and bottom shelves may also help you save while buying groceries.
Give up one vice
We all have small indulgences that can brighten the day, but you may be surprised at how quickly these can add up. A daily takeaway coffee on the way to work, soft drink with lunch or a glass of wine each night with dinner could all cost hundreds of dollars over a single year. Giving up or cutting back on these, even temporarily, could help you save money.
Small adjustments to your normal routine can help good habits stick over time. Making coffee at home, drinking soda on weekends only and limiting alcohol to social events could put money back in your budget without feeling like you’re completely giving up all luxuries.
Cutting back on some vices may improve your savings in other areas, too. Soda, alcohol and cigarettes can all impact your health. Drinking or smoking less (or not at all) may help you save money on things like healthcare expenses or life insurance premiums.
Cancel subscriptions & memberships
Monthly memberships and subscriptions could be eating into your savings. Services that automatically renew mean you could be paying for something you forgot you signed up for. You might also be paying for a membership you intended to use, but never got around to.
Make a list of the subscriptions and memberships you currently pay for—gym, paid television, TV or music streaming services, magazines, meal plans or anything else with a recurring charge. Decide which services you actually use, and cancel the rest. It may be less expensive to sign back up later if it’s decided that you really do want to use a certain membership (and the business might even offer a discount for rejoining!).
A similar approach can be taken with mobile phone and internet plans. If you’re regularly under your data or call limits, you might be able to switch to a lower plan that costs less.
Use your local library
Libraries have been changing and adapting to meet the needs of their communities. You may be surprised by the things your local branch has available for the public.
Depending on where you live, your library may have more to offer than just books, magazines and newspapers. Many now stock popular DVD releases and allow patrons to use digital book and audiobook subscriptions. Some keep passes to attractions such as museums or zoos, and a few even let people check out more unique items, like musical instruments, gardening tools or board games!
Your library may also offer free or low-cost services, such as a public notary or accounting advice at tax time. They may be involved with community programs that could help you save even more, as well. Things like local walking groups, farmer’s markets and learning courses may be organised or advertised through the library.
Share with neighbours
Many people are lucky enough to have great neighbours who may also become lifelong friends. Lending a hand to those who live nearby is not only a nice thing to do, but could help everyone involved save a bit of money.
Before buying or renting an item, see if a neighbour is willing to lend you what you need. They may have power tools, a punchbowl or other household items that they don’t often use. As long as you’re careful and return it in the same (or better) condition, you can save a bit of money without ruffling feathers. And of course, promising to let them borrow items in the future is an important part of building this relationship!
Saving money doesn’t necessarily mean making drastic, long-term changes to your way of life. Small tweaks in your daily routine or temporarily cutting back in some areas could help you reach your savings goals.