My priorities have changed drastically now that I’m approaching 40. I’m all about saving money, paying off debt and maintaining my spiritual well being. Back in my 20s and even early 30s, I was only concerned about looking cute and having fun. Oh how I wish I had got my ish together sooner. But it’s never too late to get on track and work toward achieving your financial goals. First you need to come up with a budget and savings plan. Then you need to actually stick to both. Here’s some tips & tricks that I use to help me save money and stick to my budget.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to Auto Save. Don’t depend on yourself to transfer funds to your savings on payday as it’s possible that you’ll forget and spend it. Schedule recurring transfers to transfer a set amount to each of your savings outlets, every payday. This way you know what to expect and have already budgeted those funds. If your bank has a “Keep the Change” or similar program that automatically transfers the change from your debit card transactions to your savings account- set that up as well. Those coins add up!
You can also literally save your coins at home using an empty water cooler jug. I learned this tip from my late paternal grandfather. At the end of every week, empty your wallet of loose change and put the coins in the jug. When the jug fills up, trade in the coins for cash to deposit in your bank account. You can use this money to treat yourself to a luxury item, a vacation or to pay off a bill.
NEGOTIATE YOUR RENT
Don’t be afraid to negotiate the amount of your rent increase when it’s time to renew your lease. It doesn’t hurt to ask. This has worked for me on multiple occasions, allowing me to save hundreds of dollars a year. Sometimes management will opt to negotiate terms in order to to keep a reliable tenant, rather than risk leasing to a new person that may not be as reliable. This is especially true right now. Side note- Do your best to pay your rent on time and in full every month to be able to execute this option.
CUT THE CORD
Cancel your cable and sign up for a few subscription plans that will allow you to watch only the content you truly enjoy. You can save even more money if you share the cost of the subscriptions with a friend. It’s been more than 5 years since I cut the cord. The cable company kept raising my bill until I reached my breaking point. So I cut that ish off and never looked back. I’ve been saving money ever since. Also check your cell phone provider for discounts and freebies. If you have Sprint, then you can get Hulu free with your plan.
By the same token, while internet service has become a necessity these days, don’t be afraid to negotiate your plan rate. Call up your provider and ask for the retention department. I’ve done this a few times and had to do it again last Summer. I’m one of the few people on earth that still has a house phone. But the cost of my internet and home phone service was just getting too high. I decided to call up and cancel the house phone. In the end I was able to keep both my internet and home phone service at a $60 monthly discount. I’ll have to call and renegotiate again after a year. But that’s $700+ savings.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Whether you do it weekly or monthly, plan your meals ahead of time. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You will save money on groceries since you’ll be able to create a shopping list and buy only the things you need for your planned meals, and not random items just because they’re on sale. Also, try not to shop for groceries while hungry to avoid splurging on junk.
COOK AT HOME
So you’ve planned out your meals. Now you have to actually get in the kitchen and cook! If you don’t like to cook every day, then set a date with the kitchen to cook multiple meals once or twice a week. For example, you can cook a large batch of oatmeal and pack it into individual containers. In the morning all you’ll have to do is heat the oatmeal and add your mix ins. For lunch you can prepare a variety of salad toppings to create different salads for the week. Another idea is to precook freezer friendly meals, thaw and heat when you’re ready to eat.
Eating breakfast at home and bringing your lunch to work will help you to avoid buying takeout, saving you money. This will be even easier to do if you’re currently working from home. Check out my cooking blog Moore Mealz for some recipe ideas.
BE YOUR OWN BARISTA
Invest in a coffee maker and make your coffee at home. I have a programmable coffee maker that I set to brew my coffee automatically in the morning. If cold brew is your thing, the premium bottled varieties tastes just as good as what you’ll get at the shop. Not a fan of coffee? Prefer a matcha latte? Get you some matcha green tea powder (I use this one) and whip up your own. You’ll save money and get a weeks worth of drinks for the cost of 1 or 2.
HAPPY HOUR AT HOME
Did you know that you can buy a whole bottle for the cost of a single cocktail? At least here in NYC. You can also get an entire bottle of wine (or 3) for what you’ll pay for a glass. No I’m not kidding… your sis finds the good cheap stuff at Trader Joe’s Wine Shop. Instead of ballin out at the bar make space for a bar cart in your home. This cart, this one, and this are similar to mine. You can also add a small wine rack to a shelf. You’ll save money and upgrade your decor. Gradually stock your bar cart and wine rack with your favorite spirits. Now you can have happy hour at home whenever you see fit. Well not during your Zoom meetings. You won’t be able to save money if you lose your job. Find tips on how to build your bar cart here.
SHOP YOUR CLOSET
Sis, you don’t need new clothes right now. I’m pretty sure that if you thoroughly go through your closet you’ll find some gems in there. So shop your closet. Outside is still closed. Save your coins and remix the pieces that you already have in your closet to create new outfits. I purged my closet and opted for a minimalist wardrobe some years back and it’s been life changing. Every season I go through my closet and do another purge to keep things in order. I donate most pieces, but sell the really nice stuff to get some of my investment back. You can do this as well and save the money, or put it toward a bill. Need help purging and organizing your closet? Check out this post.
Doing all of my beauty treatments myself probably saves me thousands of dollars a year. I do my own hair. Mani & Pedi. Facials. Eyebrows. Individual Lashes (when I wear them). And due to the pandemic- hair removal. But I was doing the majority of these things myself before everything shut down as I’m very particular. When outside was open, I got waxed regularly and set quarterly appointments for facials and massages. Other than that I would treat myself to a gel manicure and pedicure when going on vacation. But at this point I’ve mastered doing a professional looking mani and pedi, and new age press ons are life when you need to get fancy. Although grooming businesses are currently open, it’s still not safe outside. Now is the time to practice doing some of these things yourself and keep your coins in your pocket.
STUDENT & EMPLOYEE DISCOUNTS
If you’re a student, utilize your student discount to get deals on everything from Amazon to Apple Music. And don’t forget the local deals at venues in the vicinity of your school. Also keep in mind that you don’t actually have to be a student per say to get these discounts. If you’re an employee at an educational institution and have a .edu or similar email address, then you’re eligible as well. Be sure to take advantage of employee discounts too. You can get discounts on your cell phone bill, software, movie tickets, travel accommodations and more. Work the system to save in every way that you can.
I hope that my tips will help you save money & stick to your budget, this year and beyond.
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