Consider These Inventive Ways To Save Money
If you’re behind the gun in terms of your personal finances, it can be extremely difficult to play catch-up and get to the point where you’ve re-established your cash flow.
A good way to isolate the problem and get back on your feet is to approach income and outgoing expenses on a weekly basis. Establishing good weekly habits in terms of what you allow yourself to spend can be helpful not only for getting out of debt and improving your cash flow, but also for maintaining your financial stability, even when times are good and your finances are in order.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the idea of creating a weekly budget, and the process that entails.
What I want to talk about here is how to free up extra money to make that budget work a little better.
Because the truth is, we can budget all day long, yet if we’re spending too much money on a weekly basis, the nicest looking spreadsheet or piece of notebook paper in the world will be of no help to us.
At some point, we have to get creative with cutting down expenses, so here are a few ideas that may have eluded you.
1. Switch Gym Memberships ($10)
The days of super-expensive gym memberships are quickly coming to a close. If you’re paying $50 – $60 per month for a community or local health club membership, do some shopping around and see if you can find a better price.
Chances are you’ll be able to cut that cost at least by two thirds, so let’s say you go from $60 per month to $20 per month; that’s an overall savings of $40, or $10 per week.
Might as well hand you the keys to your luxury car now. Let’s keep going.
2. Check your cellphone plan options ($8)
You’ve got a couple options here depending on how much money you want to save. First, if you have a smartphone, don’t discount the possibility of discontinuing your data plan, especially if you have Wi-Fi at home and work. Sure, it might mean you have to give up your smartphone entirely, but like I said, it’s just an option.
Secondly, take a look at your minutes and see if you can knock your plan down to a lower minute total, which could take anywhere from $30 to $40 off your bill. To be conservative, let’s say you knock the minutes down, keep your data and end up saving $30 for the whole month, or roughly $8 each week.
That puts our total at $18 per week; movin’ on up.
3. Be stingy about going out to eat ($100)
This is a tough one for a lot of people, but there’s just no way around it.
Eating at restaurants is crazy expensive compared to buying groceries and eating at home, and cutting back even a little bit means you’re going to save a lot of money. It’ll depend on how often you go out to eat (some families go twice a day), but in general, people tend to grab four or five meals out every week, running about $20 to $30 per meal.
Let’s just say that no matter how often you go out, cut it by four meals across the board each week. We’ll then say that each meal runs you $25, which will save you $400 per month, and $100 per week.
Grand total so far: $118 per week.
Similar to the restaurant deal, the price of coffee from a coffee house is tremendously inflated. To make a pot at home or at work (where it’s usually available for free) will cost at most 25 cents to $1, so we can safely say that the cost of a cup of a coffee is either free or negligible in that form.
I’ll go out a limb and say that if you really want to free up your budget, stay away from coffee shops entirely. They’re great and all, but conservatively you’ll save $3 per day, or an extra $15 per week.
We’re up to $133.
5. Spend more time at home ($7)
Again, this one is hard to measure, but it’s worth a shot. Gas is expensive and staying home a little more often can definitely add up in terms of savings from fuel alone.
There are lots of variables to deal with here, but I’m just going to take a stab in the dark. Let’s say you stay home two nights a week, where you would have driven anywhere from 30 to 50 miles during that time. That’s roughly 2 gallons of gas, at $3.50 each.
That’s $7 per week, putting our total at $140 every week.
Once it’s all said and done, we’ve conservatively estimated that by the lifestyle changes listed above we can cut $140 out of our budget every week, and it looks even better if you calculate the monthly savings: $560.
Now, to be sure, not all these numbers will be exact, and everyone’s situation is different. The point is that you can be creative and save yourself money on a weekly basis, just by virtue of adjusting some of your weekly habits and the resulting expenses.
Anyone can make it work. What’s your weekly cash flow story?