4 Things You Can Do Now to Save Money – Guest Post
4 Things You Can Do Now to Save Money
By Christine H.
If you’re like me, your get-things-done steam lasts about 3 hours and then it’s gone. Every once in awhile, I wake up feeling motivated and energized on a Saturday, but that feeling always sputters and dies before I’m able to finish up my plans. Often, it doesn’t make it past me cleaning my room.
The trouble with financial goals is that they’re often long-term habits that you have to do rigorously every day. They’re plans that you put into effect and then follow to the letter consistently afterwards. Financial plans are closer to a diet than a splurge.
And I operate on splurges.
This week, I’ve put together a miracle list. There are only four things, so you have no excuse not to get them all done. And they’re one-time actions that have a ripple effect to save you money all week, or maybe all year.
So, do you have your three hours of proactive energy ready? Get set… Go!
1: Call your phone service provider, or internet
Phone plans and internet providers charge a consistent monthly rate. However, that monthly rate is extremely relative. I’ve bartered an $80/month charge down to $20/month before. It’s amazing how much wiggle room there is. They seriously just want to keep you as a customer, so they’re usually willing to make you an offer you can’t refuse. According to this article, phone bills are one of the most common unnecessary expenses in our budgets.
Changing your monthly payment may not be all about haggling. Perhaps you should take inventory and see how much data you actually use each month, and then talk to your provider about how you don’t need to pay for unlimited data. You might even price shop with some competitors and see if they’ll match or undercut your current payment rate.
I reduced our monthly bills by $40 just by calling our internet provider (on a very-proactive-feeling day) and telling them that I was only getting 20 megs of speed instead of the 40 that I paid for. I asked them to explain all the extra fees and charges that were on my bill, and then dropped the bomb that I was considering changing to a competitor. Voila!
2: Get a spring checkup for your car
Sure, at first this one is an expenditure. However, taking preventive action now can protect you from higher costs on your car in the future. AAA estimates that the average cost of owning and operating a car is about $8,000/year. That’s a lot! The bulk of that cost is the initial purchase, but a large portion of is maintenance and gasoline. You can cut down on all three of these expenses by doing regular preventive maintenance on your car. First of all, you extend the life of your car so you’re not making new car purchases as often. Secondly, you prevent major costly repairs by catching small problems early on. Thirdly, your car runs better and more efficiently when it’s well-maintained.
Spring’s the perfect time to do a regular check on your car. Clean up the winter road salt that corrodes your undercarriage. Check your tires, since the temperature change affects the pressure in your tires. This article has more suggestions for your spring car checkup.
3: Prepare Your Week’s Meals
How often do you make unhealthy food decisions just because you didn’t have time to prepare a healthy, homemade meal? Well, the food that you grab on the go is usually an unhealthy choice for your wallet, too. Bringing your lunch to work each day is a fraction of the cost of eating out, even if you just grab a $5 meal.
So, identify which meal you usually tend to spend extra money on. It might be breakfast on the go, eating out for lunch, or ordering out for dinner because you don’t have the energy to cook a meal. Cut these costs today by prepping meals ahead of time.
I’m single, so I’m pretty much able to feed myself dinner for the week with just a large Sunday roast and cooking some chicken and rice ahead of time. However, even with a big family, you can make preparations now to save on impulse meal-spending.
- Grill a bunch of meat ahead of time, and use it for sandwiches and salads for lunches through the week.
- Prep a bunch of slow-cooker meals ahead of time by chopping and seasoning the essential ingredients, and then zipping them up in a bag and throwing them in the fridge. This way, you can just drop them in the crock pot in the morning and have dinner ready by evening.
- Do the same thing for morning smoothies. Mix up your fruit combos in individual sandwich bags that are ready to be dumped into the blender as soon as you wake up.
- Chop up your family’s favorite vegetables on Sunday and make sure there’s some tasty ranch dip available so that you can eat veggie snacks all week when you get hungry.
4: Unsubscribe to Your Email Shopping Subscriptions
How many emails with sales and promotions show up in your inbox each day? I have about 30 per day. It’s ridiculous. For me, the discounted e-book newsletters are especially problematic. I spend about $5 a week on books that I usually don’t read. Most of these emails are deleted each day, but you probably click through on some of those to check out the season’s new fashions, or a flash sale at your favorite boutique.
I’m not going to say that you need to unsubscribe to all of them. After all, some of them really do help you save money. But most of them are automatic subscriptions that allow companies to advertise to you more. These campaigns are specially formulated to make you spend money that you wouldn’t otherwise. Consider them carefully, and remember that if you wouldn’t have bought it at full price, you’re not actually saving 20%. You’re spending 80%.
So, do you have any ideas to add to my list? I’ve got another burst of energy coming next Saturday (hopefully). Comment below with your own one-time savings goals.
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.