Let’s face it: Life ain’t cheap these days, and it often seems tough to (a) get ahead financially, and/or (b) have enough money to pay for a goal, vacation or even a “special toy” we’ve have had our eye on, right? I hear you; it’s no different around our place, and at times it really sucks big time.
Yep, when it comes to spending our hard earned moola on something – I mean pretty much anything – we too, are faced with those same old, same old choice of “Should we or shouldn’t we?”; it seems we’ve developed this ingrown fear that spending any amount of cash could upset our financial applecart, or worse – plunge us into some sort of fiscal abyss. As a result, we usually don’t spend a cent, instead crying out “We’re broke! We’re broke!”, or the more stern “We can’t afford it!” and then somehow, miraculously, life goes on without the thing we thought we needed so badly before. The truth is that the very thought of being in debt sends shudders down my spine and strikes fear in my heart; it’s a fear that truly scares the bejesus out of me, and therefore keeps me on the financial “straight and narrow”!
But here’s the thing: I’ve learned this is actually a good fear to have; Yep, I said a “good” fear, and here’s why: It’s actually a warning system that gives us the choice of whether or not to proceed with a bad decision. Here’s what I mean: Remember as kids when the mere thought of (a) having fingers slammed in a car door, (b) doing something parents distinctly told us not to, or (c) downing a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil – yuck – all made us scared and nervous? That’s because we knew any of these had the potential to bring great pain and misery to our lives, and we usually thought twice before proceeding, right? For me, the “Fear of being broke all the time” is like that, only a more adult version; if you also feel this fear any time you wonder whether to spend or not, I suggest you should listen to it very closely, since it’s trying to tell you something… It also may be the biggest key to a life of financial freedom.
Are You “Broke” or Do You Have Poor Spending Habits?
The truth is for most of us, we aren’t truly “broke” and we can “afford” the things we want out of life; we are, in fact, well clothed and fed, live in good homes, have decent incomes and could easily have the things we wanted if we prioritized how we manage our day to day funds a bit better by stop wasting money in areas that – while seemingly trite and petty amounts at the time of purchase – really add up in the long run and cost us our fortunes.
In other words, whenever we make a bunch of small, poor choices, these can add up to one big, fat red mark on a credit score or bank balance, and as a result, keep us stuck in debt. The good news is that with a little attention and discipline, I truly believe that it’s fairly easy to reverse this trend; and once it becomes habit, it’s surprising how fast things come together and your red ink turns black. Just remember, that all money – even a dollar – that is saved rather than spent, is money earned. And if I’m to be totally honest, anyone who’s outlook on this topic is “It only costs five/ten/twenty dollars so I just bought it” is totally missing the point here. NO amount of money is too small to be unimportant; those who believe it is usually wind up forever in debt and struggling financially. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s the truth…
Okay, that’s enough bullying; here are some simple, small ways anyone can use to stop wasting money, and slow down the daily “Cash-suck”. Don’t argue with them, or de-construct them; don’t justify them or make excuses for why you make exceptions for them; just read and apply them – especially at times when a wee bit of extra effort is involved – and then put the savings away, either figuratively, or actually. Do this for a month and you’ll be stunned at how much money you have at the end – money that can be used towards something really worthwhile in life, like a holiday or a “special toy”. If you are up to the challenge, then let’s get on with it:
13 Money Wasters That are Costing You a Fortune, Everyday
“What’s easy to do is also easy NOT to do” ~ Jim Rohn
Impulse Buying – Of anything, and I mean ANYTHING. Buying something “On Sale” isn’t a saving if you (a) didn’t know about it five minutes earlier, (b) weren’t in the market for it already, or (c) if you don’t need it. My advice? Walk away people, there’s nothing to see here…
Buying DVD’s or Blue Rays – Why spend $19.99 – $29.99 (+ tax) to buy something you will only watch once or twice ever again, and that you can rent for a couple of bucks from the local video store anyway? So you can be a “collector”? Please – NOBODY is impressed by your collection of 500 DVD’s. You want to impress them? Show them the $10,000+ bank balance that you didn’t waste on these!
Paying Late Fees on Anything – Library materials? Return ’em on time. DVD’s and Blue Rays from the video store? Return ’em on time. Rented a power washer or carpet cleaner for the weekend? Return it on time. Returning things on time equals no late fees; not returning them just wastes your cash
Paying ATM Fees – I just don’t get this one; if you MUST take money out at an ATM, do it at one that is associated at your bank and avoid the $4.50 fees (yep, you get hit at both ends) involved. Better yet, don’t treat your ATM like, well, an ATM; budget your cash at the beginning of the week and only use the ATM as a very last resort for emergencies. **BONUS HINT** “Emergency” is not defined by anything that subscribes to “Instant gratification”.
Spending on Parking Fees / Tickets – Don’t pay for parking if you don’t have to, especially in the city where it’s daylight robbery. If at all possible, park a few blocks away where it’s free and walk, or take a city bus where the $5.00 round trip fare might easily trump the $20+ parking tab for a day. The same goes with parking tickets. My advice is don’t get them in the first place – this route is actually free! If on the other hand, you happen to get one, then follow these two important steps: (1) pay it quickly and take the reduced rate, and (2) don’t let it happen again!
Buying Daily Coffee and/or Lunches – Everyone know this one, but few actually follow the advice. All you have to do is run the numbers: $10 per day times “X” amount of days to see the cost, blah, blah, blah… but unless it’s actually done, no savings can be had!
Spending on T.V. Satellite, Cable – More and more people are saying “No!” to high priced satellite setups and digital t.v. programming, choosing to save the $100 – $200 per month tabs on a bunch of stations they have no interest in. NetFlix has proven to be a cost effective way to reduce this form of entertainment; or, if you are a true tightwad like me, just borrow movies from the local library. It’s free, and you can get most of the same titles as at the video store but without spending anything
Buying 3 Year Cel Phone Plans / Constantly Updating to Newer Phones – 10 years ago nobody used cel phones; today we live in a society that can’t seem to go 5 minutes without “tweeting” or “texting” or “emailing” or “instagraming” a “selfie” of ourselves, our pets, or the hamburger we just ordered for lunch… Really? Was this what the inventor had when he came up with the wireless phone? Doesn’t really matter, except this obsession to stay “connected” 24/7 to trade this critical information (as exampled above) costs most people $100+ per month, when their true, basic needs could be met with a $25 phone card per month, at the most
Buying Movie Popcorn and Soda – Worlds biggest rip-off! You are already paying $10 – $12 per single movie ticket (don’t buy 3-D if possible) so why would you add in a “Medium Soda and Popcorn Combo” for an extra $8.00 per person- especially when the actual cost of producing those two items is about $.50 cents? Imagine the damage for a family of 4… Financial armageddon! Yet people rake over the cash for these things as if they “enhance” the movie experience; I say put a few “Jolly Ranchers” in your pocket and be done with it. Oh, and parents, take a page from my own parent’s book – the movie itself is the treat; no expensive junk food required. Really. ** BONUS HINT** Take your gang out on Tuesday where 4 people can enjoy a movie for $20- total.
Debiting Gym Fees – You know how gyms are busy in January, slow down in February and are “business as usual” in March? That’s part of their business model; they know people will sign up for yearly memberships they won’t use! Even though you can fire a cannon through most gyms between April – December, don’t kid yourself – they are still direct-debiting dues from those New Years Resolutions Suckers from last January… Don’t be one of them. If you pay for a gym, try using it instead of sitting on the couch watching T.V or playing video games; you’ll look and feel better about yourself, which is why you signed up for a year’s membership in the first place, right?
Financing Anything on a Monthly Payment Plan – Whenever you are offered to finance anything – a car, insurance, furniture – with payments, and over a period of a year or more, I suggest you stop and ask yourself if you really need to. Sure, it makes things tight at first, (also causing “forced savings”) but paying the full sum up front saves you the extra fees, carrying charges, interest, etc. and means you aren’t being financially bled each month. If you can’t afford to do this, ask yourself the bigger question: SHOULD you be doing it in the first place?
Paying Full Price on Groceries – Know when you fave supermarkets and Farmers Market’s put out their weekly (online) flyers, then shop according to what’s on sale that week; if possible, buy lots of the good deals and freeze what you can; this single strategy alone can cut your grocery bill down by up to 40%
Not Buying Some Things Second Hand – Sure, nobody wants to sleep on a second hand mattress, – gross – but what about a set of golf clubs? A bike? A set of lawn furniture? With sites like Craigslist, everything anyone could possibly want is for sale at any given time, all you need to do is go looking for it, and be ready to save huge. Also check out thrift stores – they have some pretty good buys at times, although I must admit “Value Village” is a pretty big rip off these day; overpriced for 2nd hand, but still less than buying brand new
Well, there’s more but that’s enough for now. The point is this: If you become aware of where the “nickels and dimes” go, you’ll soon realize that you can live pretty much the same life you have now, but also save a bunch of dough – dough that can be turned into your goals, wishes or used to buy the “special toy” or vacation we talked about earlier. But it all starts with you embracing one simple philosophy… That a dollar saved, is truly a dollar earned. I wish you Good Luck as you test out this theory, and would love to hear how you make out!
Readers: How do you save money in your day to day living? Please share with us in the comments below!