Nickel & Dime Your Way to Financial Change – Guest Post
Nickel & Dime Your Way to Financial Change
By Christine H.
Do you often find yourself struggling to find funds in those stretches before payday? The vast majority of Americans state that finances are among their top three worries at any given time. About 80% of us are in debt, and we’re always looking for ways to cut back on spending… and yet, much like dieting, we often fail to make real, long-lasting change in our financial situation.
Often, this is because the little things that we can do to save don’t feel like they’re making enough of an impact. After all, what good does saving a few dollars on lunch do when you have $2000 dollars due each month for rent?
Well, let’s take the morning cup of coffee as an example. If you assume that each cup of coffee is $2-3, then you’re paying up to $20 a week, and $80 a month for something that you could make for yourself at home. Over a year, that’s almost $1000 that you spent on coffee! Think about what else you could be doing with that money, just by brewing your own coffee at home.
Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, consider the little extras that you get yourself for lunch each day — maybe a cookie or a coke. How much does that add up over a month? A year?
Here are some small ways that you can save every day – things that add up to a lot at the end of the month!
- Turn off the sprinklers when it rains. The average American household spends $50 per month on water costs, and about half of that goes towards outdoor maintenance. You can cut back by turning off the water when mother nature has already taken care of it. Even better, employ smart xeriscaping techniques to cut way back on how much water your yard needs.
- Buy produce in season and use frozen vegetables when possible. Frozen fruits and vegetables are far cheaper than fresh produce, and they last longer, so you won’t have to toss out old food as often. Weekly groceries cost between $150 and $300 for a family of four. You can keep your family on the low end of that spectrum and save hundreds of dollars a month.
- Use smart rewards cards. Yes, banks are usually out to get your money and you should be skeptical of all the deals offered by various credit cards. However, using just one credit card that gives you smart rewards can pay off in the long run. Make sure that you charge all of your expenses to the rewards card, and then pay it off regularly. However, if you’re bad at keeping on top of that kind of thing, it’s best to opt out entirely to avoid fees and interest.
- Be smart with your gasoline. Most of us spend $100 or more each month on gas for our car. However, you can employ smart habits to ensure that you’re not guzzling gas as much. Accelerate slowly, don’t leave the car idling, and bundle up errands as much as possible. This link has more ideas for cutting back on car expenses.
- Make your own beauty supplies. It’s very normal for a woman to spend at least $100 each month on beauty supplies: lotion, hair products, makeup, and skincare. Oftentimes, you can make similar products at home that easily compete with what you can find in the store. It’s easy to find great recipes for homemade lotion or chapstick in a simple search on Pinterest, but make sure that before you put anything on your face, you understand health ramifications, like the comedogenic ratings of skincare products. There are many popular at-home beauty fixes that aren’t actually healthy in the long term.
- Stretch your clothes. The average American family spends a couple thousand dollars on clothing per year. That doesn’t even factor in impulse spending and the crazy rates that you might spend on designer clothes. We all like to treat ourselves to something that looks special now and then, but you might consider more sustainable practices for refreshing your wardrobe. Learn how to upcycle or tailor clothes, for example, or find a thrift store nearby that you like.
- Turn off in-app purchases. For those of us who make payments in apps on our phones, the average cost is $10 per month. That’s not usually much, but consider that those costs are for something that most of us fail to even notice we’re putting money into. Other places where one-click shopping is in effect can also be dangerous. For example, I spend up to $20 per month on books for my Kindle, often because they’re on such a good sale and purchasing is so very easy. If you have some purchasing systems that are just way too easy for you, consider turning it off so that you have to seriously think about something before you buy it.