By Dana DeMercurio
Money makes the world go round – we get it. But when you’ve got no disposable income the world turns a bit stagnant and life gets stressful… like, really stressful. You might find it impossible to save money, especially if pinching pennies is new to you or if you think the words “broke” and “savings” cannot logically belong in the same sentence. To help get the ball rolling, follow our helpful tips to get your bank account out of the red and back in black in no time.
- Buy only the necessities – Food, clothing and shelter – these are the basics. Manicures, shopping sprees, Netflix accounts and extravagant parties are nice in theory, but it’s spending like this that causes your checking and savings accounts to dwindle at an exponential rate. Cut back to only the things your family needs instead of wants. Although this may take some getting used to, it’s imperative that families learn to do without the excess in order to fully recognize and appreciate the basics needed to sustain a happy and wholesome lifestyle.
- Budget, budget, budget – There are no ifs, ands or buts about it – a household cannot function without a proper budget. Take the time to map out your family’s budget with your spouse to ensure every penny you earn and spend is accounted for. It’s a daily practice that takes time and patience, but you’ll reap the benefits tenfold if you appropriately allocate funds on schedule without second-guessing every purchase or expenditure.
- Curb the splurge – Impulse shopping is your wallets worst nightmare. Don’t be duped into those last minute purchases at the checkout stand. For others, splurging goes well beyond a candy bar or lip balm at check out. If you’re susceptible to spending frivolously, try leaving the house with only a few dollars in cash rather than your entire wallet full of charge cards that will only get you into trouble. Preventative steps such as this will help your curb your splurging habits and beef up your bank account in no time.
- Dine in, not out – Have you ever looked back on your monthly bank statement and realized a good chunk of your income went to food other than groceries? Going out to eat completely destroys your food and entertainment budget, and while it provides a bit of fun and distraction, it’s ultimately a fleeting feeling. Instead, call up your girlfriends for a Friday night potluck. It’s an inexpensive get-together in a casual environment that not only saves a ton of money, but makes a ton of memories as well.
- Save your spare change – Loose change can slip through the cracks – literally. Make sure you are regularly digging through the couch cushions and emptying the ashtray in your car for loose change. Those nickels, dimes and quarters can help pay bills or save for your child’s college fund. Don’t let any amount, big or small, slip away due to carelessness.
- Ask for help – Having to ask for help when finances get tight can be a very humbling experience. Putting aside your pride for the greater good lends to opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise present themselves. Whether it’s taking a small loan from a bank or family member, consolidating your bills through a third party or even filing for bankruptcy, there’s no shame in starting over with a clean slate. Building credit again will take some time, but it’s better than swimming in a mound of debt that’s crippling you and your family.
- Sell what you don’t need – If your closet is overrun with clothes that haven’t been worn in five years, a car in the garage collecting dust or furniture that no longer serves a purpose, it’s time to chuck your junk. Your trash might just be another man’s treasure, so slap a price tag on it and rake in a few extra dollars. Make a plan to hold a yearly yard sale with neighbors or friends to draw in even bigger crowds for extra profit.
- Become a DIY master – Gifts made by hand from the heart can go a long way, and not just for your pocketbook. Creating homemade gifts allows you to tap into your creative juices in easy and affordable ways without the hassle of pricey, last-minute shopping. Why pay full price for a gift you can make at home with your own personal touch?
- Keep away from credit cards – If you have a bad habit of using credit cards instead of cash, it’s a smart choice to keep the plastic at home in a safe place. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, if you don’t have the cold hard cash to purchase whatever it is you are charging on your card, then chances are you shouldn’t be buying it anyway (remember, buy only the necessities!).
- Buy generic – Today’s society is so hung up on brand names that consumers can easily fall into the trap of paying extra for items that are, by their nature, almost identical. Try buying generic or store brand items at the supermarket and other shopping locations. The extra money you spend on brand names is solely due to marketing, and when you compare ingredients, chances are they’re exactly the same. Even if you find the savings aren’t that drastic, it’s important to remember that even the smallest savings is still a savings, and it will definitely affect your bank account over the course of time.
- Become a fixer – When your toilet backs up, your dishwasher is on the fritz, your favorite jeans have ripped and your kids’ favorite toy is broken, don’t turn to a professional for help. A simple way to save your money is to learn to fix things on your own that are broken or in need of repair around the house. Plumbers, electricians and seamstresses all charge a hefty price tag for their services, but thanks to Google, it’s simple to find tutorials and videos online to show step-by-step solutions for whatever’s out of order in your home. And the best part – they’re free! Extending the life of your appliances and even your clothes has never been simpler so long as you’re willing to learn a new trait such as sewing or basic handyman techniques.
- Cancel unused club memberships and subscriptions – Paying dues at clubs for services you never use really rack up. If you’re paying $45 a month for a gym membership and going only twice a year (sigh, guilty), then it’s time to cut the cord and add that money to your savings account. The same goes for magazine or newspaper subscriptions. If your stack of magazines have gone untouched for weeks and are covered in a thick layer of dust, get rid of them and the unused subscriptions that are slowly draining your bank account.