15 Ways to Save More Money

15 Ways to Save More Money--Miter Saws and Mary Janes

There’s a very simple formula when it comes to being rich: Save more money and spend less. No matter where you are on your financial journey, it is possible to save more money. You can turn your situation around by taking steps to increase your savings balances. While it isn’t always easy, once you take that first step, you can be on your way to saving more money than you ever have before.

Read on to see how the following 16 tips will help you save more money:

Save More Money: Institute a 24-hour Rule

If you’re working hard to save more money, consider instituting a 24-hour rule in which you hold off on all non-essential purchases for at least 24 hours. During that time, make an effort to carefully examine the purchase. Do you absolutely need whatever you’re considering purchasing? If you purchase said item/service, what impact will it have on your budget? How will your debt and/or savings be affected by the purchase?

Ask yourself the tough questions to get at the root of why you want to buy. Chances are, after 24 hours, you may not even want to spend your hard-earned money!

Calculate the Work Cost of an Item

If you are looking to purchase something, calculate the cost of the item based on how long you’d have to work to pay for it rather than the dollar figure associated with the purchase.

If that new shirt is $100 and you make $10 an hour, is it really worth working 10 hours?

Save More Money: Save Your Pennies

Seriously. Save your change. How many times have you cleaned under the couch cushions, in the cup holders of your car, or in random purse pockets and have found loose change lying around? Make a point to save those coins and your savings could be handsomely rewarded!

When I was working to pay off over $18,000 in credit card debt, I regularly made an effort to save my loose change. After wrapping and depositing my change in my bank account, it accounted for over $400 of debt payoff. $400! Imagine how you could save more money just by keeping track of those pennies lying around…

Be Loyal to Your Bank

No matter how you look at it, ATM fees = no bueno. Instead of opting for convenience the next time you’re out & about and needing cash, take the time to use an ATM authorized by your bank so you’re not shelling out unnecessary fees. Remember, that’s your hard-earned money–why should you throw it away on bank fees?!

Save More Money: Frequent the Library

If you’re like me and you love to read, those Amazon bills can quickly eat away your efforts to save more money. Instead of shelling out for each book you want to read, go to your local library instead. More and more libraries are now offering e-books, so you may not even have to leave the comfort of your home to read that latest edition.

Additionally, many libraries have free magazines and trade publications, offer free events, and even offer free use of things such as sewing machines, die-cut machines, and other expensive crafting tools. The membership is free and it’s a great way to support an often over-looked resource that greatly benefits children and seniors alike.

Get Your Volunteer On

Do you like to attend festivals, concerts, and theater events? Me, too! Except, I rarely ever pay for my tickets anymore. When I was working hard to crush my credit card debt, I had to give up a lot of the things I did for entertainment. Or so I thought.

While I initially cut everything out, I began to stumble upon opportunities to volunteer at some of the events I’d previously paid plenty of money to attend. Thanks to volunteering, I’ve snagged “free” tickets to the X Games, South by Southwest, countless concerts/plays/symphonies, and even the Sundance Film Festival. If you’re trying to save more money, look into volunteer options rather than spending on expensive event tickets. Just be sure to plan for the bigger events as volunteer spots are often filled months in advance.

Save More Money: Stop Buying Cheap Shit

This is one time where I’m going to advocate spending a bit more. However, I’m not advocating spending more on everything; I’m talking about spending where it counts most. Often, this is with our clothing and shoes. Instead of buying that cute T-shit for $5 that will fade, pill, and shrink on the first wash, invest in a nicer shirt that you’ll have for years.

When I buy clothing and shoes, I invest in quality, but I also calculate a cost-per-wear. Those $600 Jimmy Choo shoes that I love oh so much? On the surface, they seem ridiculous and way over the top. But if you dig deeper and learn that I wear them at least 2 times/week and I’ve had them for 4 years, you’ll quickly see that I’ve worn said shoes over four HUNDRED times. They still look gorgeous, are as comfortable as ever, and now cost me a mere 60 cents or so each time I wear them.

Remember that it doesn’t have to be a label or designer. It just has to be quality. Find what works for you and you’ll find you will spend less in the long run when you’re not constantly replacing the clothes you were most often.

Brown Bag It

Do you frequently go out to eat with your colleagues? Opt for a quick lunch break at your local cafe? Think you have “no time” to meal prep and therefore justify going out to eat? Well, I’m here to tell you that packing a lunch (or breakfast or dinner depending on what time of day you work) is an easy way to save more money. It also helps you stay slim by knowing what you’re eating (and opting for healthier choices). Lest you think a brown bag lunch chains you to a lifetime of boring leftovers, there are many ways to make great tasting, inexpensive lunches at home.

If you’re still not convinced, look at the math. Even if you spend a mere $5 on each lunch (which is difficult to do in many regions of the country), if that same lunch costs half by making it at home, you could be saving an additional $600+ dollars each year! Think about what you could do with an extra $600 in your savings account and make your lunch at home.

Save More Money: Think Prevention

When it comes to your health, there are plenty of easy things you can do to stay in shape, healthy, and happy: Drink more water. Get more exercise. Eat whole foods; you get the idea. In addition to making sound choices about eating and exercise, you should also be taking care of any types of preventative maintenance for your body. Much like you do with your car, you should do the same with your body.

This means getting regular dental cleanings, an annual physical, and any other blood or lab work you may need. The earlier you catch any issues, the more money you will save. Left unchecked, that small cavity in your molar could morph into a very expensive root canal. Save more money by keeping up with preventative medicine. You’ll most likely have a lot less physical pain, too!

Conduct an Audit

No, I’m not suggesting you self-audit your taxes. I am recommending an energy audit of your home. My energy company will do an audit of my home for $25, which is credited back to my next monthly bill. Check with your company as some do the audits completely free of charge (others may charge a nominal fee that isn’t reimbursed).

During the audit, pay attention to what you can do to decrease your energy costs. A lot of the suggestions are often easy DIY projects that you can do in your spare time. Seek out options that will enable you to return your monetary investment in less than 5 years and you could easily save hundreds of dollars each year on the heating and cooling of your home!

Save More Money: Shop Around

This is one of the oldest yet easiest ways to save more money. With the power of the Internet, it’s virtually impossible to not find a discount, deal or competing company to help you save more on everything from cars to hotel rooms. Increasingly, retailers are honoring Internet coupons in-store, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be paying less. When I shop, I make a point to have coupons and discount codes saved in my phone before I enter the store. I pull up the items while I’m waiting to check-out, and I easily save at least 20% on most purchases.

Don’t limit yourself to only saving on retail items. Go a step further and shop around for insurance, car maintenance; even medical procedures. When my boyfriend recently had to have an MRI, he called a few places to see what would be the best option given his insurance. Since an MRI is the same no matter where you go, he focused on finding the facility with the lowest out of pocket expense. He was able to save over $700 by shopping around, and he still had the results sent to his regular doctor. Don’t be afraid to shop around; especially when it matters most!

Never Shop While Hungry

Speaking of shopping, make sure you’re running your errands on a full stomach. Even if you don’t feel terribly hungry when you begin your shopping trip, if you haven’t eaten in a while and are in the grocery store, those convenience & snack items quickly begin to look much more appealing. Before you know it, you may be tossing unnecessary items into your cart simply because you’re hungry. Make a point to at least eat a snack before venturing out. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you.

Save More Money: Kick the Cards to the Curb

Study after study has shown that we spend less when we are spending cash. Using cash forces you to make decisions as you pay. It also helps you keep track of everything you’re spending. Instead of mindlessly swiping a card, pull out some greenbacks to pay.

If you’re new to the cash game, an easy way to get started is to devise an envelope system. Label an envelope for each category of purchases (gas, groceries, entertainment, etc) and fill each with an allotted amount based on your budget. While shopping, use the money from each envelope and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Ditch the Latte and Fast Food

A $4 Starbucks here, a $5 Chipotle there. These small splurges add up big over time, and they can easily suck the wind out of your savings sails. No matter what your small indulgences are, they all wreak havoc on your budget–especially if you’re trying to save more money or eliminate debt.

To save more money, it’s sometimes as simple as making your coffee at home and brown bagging your lunch. Fast food only hurts your body (and wallet), so there’s no real rationalization for why you waste your money to buy those “value” meals. If you can’t shake your habit, consider the numbers: $4/day is roughly $30/week. $30/week is $120/month. $120/month is $1,440/year! Imagine having over $14,000 in your savings account simply because you opted to bring your own coffee on your morning commute. Sounds pretty damn good, eh?

Save More Money: Automate Your Efforts

Make technology work for you to save more money by automating your deposits. The best option I’ve found for saving serious amounts of money is to utilize direct deposit. Set an amount to be automatically deducted from each pay check and do. not. touch. the. money. Set your budget based only on the amount you’re actually bringing home and let those savings account balances add up without much effort on your part. Even better, take advantage of the many online banks that are fee-free when you make regular, automatic deductions.

 

What are you tricks for saving money? Please share below!

 

How I Will Explore China for 10 Days for $650 Including Flights!

Explore China for 10 Days for Less than $650--Miter Saws and Mary JanesFor as long as I can remember, China has been on my Top 10 list of countries to visit. While I’ve already been to Thailand, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, and a handful of other Asian countries, I was never able to get things in order for my Chinese visa. I’ve continued to have “explore China” on my travel bucket list ever since.

All of this changed a few weeks ago when I found an incredible Travelzoo deal for a 10-day trip for less than $650/person–including flights!! This is by far the cheapest package I’ve found in recent years; a savings of at least $900 if I were to book all of the included activities, accommodations, and domestic flights myself. I wasted no time in booking this adventure to explore China for my boyfriend and I in November.

While I usually am a huge advocate of DIY travel hacking, including using Airbnb, I opted for an organized tour for China due to the customs, culture, and sheer amount of things we’re hoping to pack into our 10 day trip. I did the same when I visited the UAE, and I can honestly say I’m so happy I chose the package deal for that trip as well. Not only was it nice to have most things pre-planned, it was a huge relief to have our transportation, entrance fees, and accommodations set without a single hassle.

If you want to explore China while on a budget, here are my favorite ways to save money while still seeing everything on your list:

Explore China on a Budget

Even if you opt for an organized tour like we are, you can still save money while you explore China. A lot has been written and discussed about the shopping culture of most organized trips to China, so I will cover my best tips for sticking to your budget even when tempted by the local goods and wares, too.

Get Out of the City

Our tour includes time in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, and Hangzhou. During our down time, we plan to explore as many of the small villages and towns outside of the large cities as possible. If you want to make the most of your money while in China, get out of the city and explore everything in between. Your money will go further and chances are you’ll end up experiencing things that wouldn’t have been possible had you stayed only in the larger cities.

Opt for a House Share or Hostel

Instead of tying up most of your budget with pricey hotel rooms, consider staying in a short-term vacation home through Airbnb. If you’d like to save even more, go the hostel route and save hundreds of dollars during your stay. Most hostels in China equate to at least a 3-star hotel experience, have English-speaking staff, and are often housed in neat locations such as historic buildings or an older part of the city. If we didn’t already have hotels included in our stay, I’d definitely be booking a combination of an Airbnb house share and hostels while we’re in China.

Manage Your Money Properly

Foreign transaction and exchange fees can quickly kill anyone’s travel budget. Be smart about how your’re exchanging your money while you explore China as cash is a necessity, especially in smaller regions of the country. As with most any foreign country, here are a few quick tips to help you manage your money smartly while abroad:

  • Never exchange your cash at an airport; they have the worst exchange rates!
  • Check with your bank to see if they have any Chinese banking partners so you can use those ATMs for free or reduced fees
  • Opt for a credit card that has zero foreign transaction fees
  • Never leave your money behind in an hotel or hostel
  • Always separate the money you carry on you (a pocket here, a bag there–split it up in case you have any unfortunate run-ins with pickpockets!)

Leave Your Tips at Home

There is ZERO tipping in China; none! Even if you were to attempt to give someone a gratuity, they’d most likely look at you with a confused look on their face as they give the money back to you. Tipping is not customary in China as it is in Western & European countries. If this feels off to you, give it a few interactions and you’ll be comfortable in no time.

Haggle Like the Best of Them

While tipping is not customary in China, haggling definitely is. Chain stores and boutiques excluded, you can pretty much negotiate any price for something you wish to buy in China. A good rule of thumb is to never accept the price marked on an item. You should also never accept the first number given during a negotiation. Practice your skills at a local market and work your shrewd negotiation skills as you travel. Your wallet will thank you!

Pack Essentials Before Leaving

When I was in Nepal, I quickly discovered the need for a mask while traveling along the dirty, dusty roads in the major cities. I hadn’t packed one with me, so I had to purchase one at a local stall. Hello, 400% tourist markup! Now, I make sure to thoroughly research my destination so I know what I need to bring with me in advance. Not only is this a cheaper option, but it also saves time and energy when I don’t have to search for things in foreign stores and markets.

For China, typical necessities include a mask for your face, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. 9.9 out of 10 public restrooms will not have any TP to be found (and most will be the open, squat-type “toilets” anyway).

Embrace the Street Food

I’ve had some incredible street food during my travels, particularly in Africa and Asia. One of my favorite, most memorable snacks was an egg-noodle-insect-soup concoction in Chiang Mai. To this day I have no clue what I ate but it was amazing.

While the mere thought of street food could send some straight to the bathroom, enjoying street food is easy if you adhere to the following rules: Never eat fresh produce from street vendors, always inspect your food before eating, and pay attention to how the vendor handles their food, tools and dishes. Eating thoroughly cooked, clean food is optimal. Plus, you’ll save nearly 75% versus eating at crowded tourist restaurants with silly English “picture” menus!

What are some of your travel tips for visiting China? Please share below!