One of the very first articles I posted on Steemit was titled "11 Ways to Save Money When You Can't Afford To" - and wow - what a let down that was - I was too new to realize that all the hours I spent putting it together meant nothing without an audience to appreciate it. I had almost forgot about that article but recently I was fishing around for some content to post on my new real estate blog and came across it again. I was surprised to see that it had zero votes, zero comments and had made zero SBD. Looking back, I remember wondering if I was wasting my time on Steemit. But I knew that like anything new you try , there is a bit of a learning curve and there is always an investment of time and education before something can really pay off and happily - I stuck with it. I'm not as consistent as I would like to be, but looking back now, I have submitted lots of articles since then and have received some very encouraging feedback.
I thought that since I had already put the time into it, and the the advice in it is just as timely as it ever was, I thought i would share it again. As an added bonus, I have added four more ways to save money, exclusively for Steemit readers. So without any further ado... here is:
"15 Ways to Save Money When You Can't Afford To"
Buying a house means having some money saved up for your down payment. However, one of the things I hear from people all the time is that they do not make enough money to put away for savings. Of course, they are drinking a Starbucks, smoking a cigarette, and holding a smart phone in their hand while they lament over the quandary of being too broke to put anything away from the future. In many cases, there is very little left after paycheck deductions, taxes, insurance and bills – how is anyone supposed to put money away when you need it right now?
Ask yourself, do you really NEED all of it right now. Granted, we as people put in a hard week of dealing with bosses, co-workers, family, children and an array of other things all vying for our attention. At the end of the day, it seems like all we want to do is eat something fast and give ourselves a pat on the back for enduring such a difficult day / week - to treat ourselves with some fast food we don’t have to cook , or with a cigarette, or something quick off the store shelf just staring at us and begging to jump into our basket. But is that really the best use of our money? The truth of the matter is that each day we throw out good money that might otherwise be used to save to the future.
What good is saving for the future?
Well, you never know when a good investment opportunity will present itself and you want to be prepared to strike while the iron is hot. When you have dollar bills, you have to look at them as your own personal employees. These employees all have the potential to go out there, find money and bring it back to you. Are you going to let your employees slack on you and act like lazy money? You work hard for you money – in turn, shouldn’t your money be working just as hard for you? Each time you take money out of your wallet, you need to think of it in terms of what it is about to do for you. Is it about to be invested in something that returns money back to you? Or are you sending it away – never to be seen again? Are you going to a snack with it only to flush it several hours from now? – are you going to convert it to a cigarette and then burn it? Perhaps you’re going to buy that cheap dollar store toy for your kid because they are crying for it. Will you buy cable or satellite service with it? Internet access? A smart phone and the associated services and data packages? All of these are things that we can forego in the name of saving not just FOR our future, but literally saving our future itself. When your retiring, are you going to look back and say – “ wow, I sure am glad a paid a cable bill for so many years instead of saving for retirement”? Unlikely.
Someone who says they cannot afford to save money this year is going to say that next year too. And the following year. As time passes, the opportunity to put away enough money starts to wither away. Saving money is not about how much money you have, but more of an attitude about your relationship with your money. Saving money is a mindset and with the right mindset, you can accomplish anything. When you are thinking from standpoint of savings, you find ways to save money everyday – whether it is comparing the price of two items or deciding in general that certain things have no place in your budget. It is in creating this frame of mind that keeps savings at the forefront of your spending activities. The following are a few ideas about how you can sock money away for the future.
Never buy anything on credit unless you can afford and plan to pay it off completely within the month.
The premise behind this is that you are not spending money that you don’t have - a simple enough concept, but more difficult for many to practice. To put it simply, in order to build wealth, you need be earning more income than you are spending – when you use a credit card, you are spending money you haven’t even earned yet – this does not fall under the category of spending less than you earn. Cut the dependency on credit cards and you will regain control of your own money. If you can’t afford it with cash, then you don’t need it.
Negotiate a better price.
Many times getting a better price is simply a matter of asking for it. Sometimes, the phone, cable, or internet company will give you a special price if you threaten to take your business to their competitors. When they ask why you are changing service, tell them it is too expensive for you – in many cases it is easier to lower your rates than to lose a loyal customer. The same concept applies to yard sales, craigslist and any other situation where you have an opportunity to get the seller to lower the price for you. Even retail stores have been known to make discounts if you’re a purchasing enough quantities. Find out if they offer military, student, or senior discounts. Always ask for the discount if you qualify, you never know till you try it and it can save you a lot of money over the course of a year.
Be sure that if you have to buy something, don’t pay more than you need to for it. Compare items and see if you can get a similar product for less – in many cases you are able to do so easily by simply spending a couple more minutes looking at your other options. Make sure that you’re getting the best deal for your money. Be sure to look at per unit pricing to see a side by side comparison of products. Sometimes, products come in smaller packages and seem to cost less, but cost more per ounce – not as good a deal. By always comparing products, you make sure that you are always getting the best price you can for the things you need. Over time this can add up to significant savings – savings that you could put away.
Craigslist, Ebay, thrift stores and yard sales all offer great deals when you’re looking for tools , appliances, electronics or other items you need around the house. Not all things need to be purchased new – especially if you’re buying tools or electronic items. Nothing loses value faster than the latest electronic gadget – so why pay premium price for something that depreciates faster than you can use it? In many cases you can find a great deal buying used goods that are in great condition by taking the time look for the item used first. Make sure to try to negotiate a better price. Shop carefully, and make sure that if you’re buying online, that the seller has a good reputation.
Go out to eat less.
Eating at home is so much cheaper than buying food that is already prepared. In many cases you can buy food that is cheap and simple to make. Eating out just once a week can easily cost up to $100 a month for two people. If you have kids, you will spend a lot more obviously. Do your best to avoid going out to eat and save up to $1,200 a year. When you do need to eat out, try to use coupons from the newspaper, internet, or even Facebook. Many people now days are looking to social media to find better deals on local restaurants, using websites like Yelp, or Groupon to get a deal on your meal. Find out what local restaurants participate in these programs.
Buy generic brands.
Look at the ingredients – in most cases they are almost exactly the same. So why pay more for the same product? Maybe you grew up on a certain brand and now are a loyal customer. That’s great for them, but are they going to be loyal to you? In some cases, it makes sense to stick with popular brands when quality is of primary concern – but when it comes most foods, they all fall under the FDA inspection standards so you are not going to get something unsafe – and most people cannot tell the difference between a name brand and a generic. So do yourself a favor and stop paying for branding, marketing, and research & development costs – all things that major brands must incorporate into their products pricing structure. Generic brands don’t have as much overhead, which is how they are able to sell the same product for so much less. Over the course of a year, you can save a lot of money going this route.
Buy in bulk.
You’ve seen all those barrels at the grocery store filled with foods and spices. Ever think of buying from here instead of premeasured bottles and boxes of food? Purchasing in bulk can save lot of money and it doesn’t need to be a situation where you’re buying more than you plan to use. There are a lot of items such as sugar, rice, spices, teabags, candy, etc. that you can buy as little as 1 oz or as much as 10 lbs. Either way, you’re going to pay less for 3 oz of bulk spice than it would cost to buy the same amount already in a bottle. Guaranteed. It’s almost like finding free money when you compare how much you’re saving by buying from the bulk section.
It looks great and you want it now. But do you really NEED it right now? Is it an impulse buy that you could do without? How you find out? Shelve it. Tell yourself that you will come back to get it next week – after all, if it is something that is important to you – you will be thinking about it all week and cannot wait to go get it. However, more often than not, you will find that you can do just fine without it and will not bother to go back looking for it. You will not believe how much this has saved me over the years. Yes, it takes self restraint – but figure it this way – If you really want it, it will be there for you next time. Tattoos, car rims, jewelry… do you really need it? If so, that’s fine. But ask yourself how those things are going earn their keep in the future. Like Dave Ramsey says, “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”.
Take advantage of your retirement plan at work.
If you work somewhere that offers a retirement plan – get on it as soon as possible. In many cases your employer may even match some of your contributions – this is known as free money and if you’re leaving it on the table you have no one to blame but yourself. You can put away as little as 1% of your income and you would barely even notice it on your paycheck. If you make $10.00 an hour and work a 40 hour week, this equates to less than $5 a week when you consider that the money is taken out before taxes, lowering your taxable income for the year. If you make less, this number goes down. Anyone can afford $5 or less a week; this is basically one lunch a week and if you make your own meals and take your own lunch, at $5 per day, you can save up to $25 a week or $100 a month of money you thought you couldn’t afford to spend.
And nickels. And any other change left over whenever you break a five dollar bill. Stash this money away and it is yours for keeps. No one can take this from you. You can put it away and save it up, little by little, until you have put away enough to invest it into interest bearing accounts. You won’t believe how quickly it can add up. Saved money is kind of like a snow ball; once it forms and start gaining momentum, it is easier for it to grow and it attracts more money. Do not discount the power of saving change. It adds up a lot faster than you would think.
Invest your savings.
Remember that your dollars are your employees and they are doing you no good sitting around doing nothing. Put them to work by investing them in interest bearing accounts. Once you spent your money, you’ve lost that opportunity for it to work for you, but by putting it into an investment vehicle, your money is now going to work twice as hard for you. Money likes to reproduce – and your money will be happy to breed more dollars for you if you just give it a secure place to work and multiply. Take those pennies and nickels you’ve been saving and deposit them so they can start working. You can start with a saving account or, for higher interest, a Certificate of Deposit. Both are FDIC insured and allow you to put money away while earning interest. For even greater earning potential look into Mutual Funds – they are easy to invest in and can grow significantly over time for you. Did you know that you can get paid a check every month for doing nothing more than putting your money into a dividend paying mutual fund? The prudent investor chooses to reinvest that check so that the following month it is an even bigger check – do this for a few years and you will surprised at the amount of income your money can generate for you while doing nothing at all.
Bonus: 4 way more ways to save money
Use Coupons When Shopping
When used correctly , coupons be can save you a lot of money. Newspapers and mailers always have coupons and specials that you can find on everyday items. Be sure to use coupons to buy things that you were already planning to get - it doesnt save you any money if you start buying something you had no intention of buying just because it's on sale. Still, if you can find coupons that save you a quarter here, fifty cents there - it can add up. Some people save a lot of money clipping coupons - but I'm not talking about become a professional couponer and spending all your time scouring newspapers for a deal - just be sure to glance at the ones they send in the mail or look in your paper and see if they have anything that you would normally buy anyway - it doesn't hurt to save some extra money when shopping.
Use Apps to find FREE stuff
There are lots of apps out there now that allow you to sell or giveaway your stuff. This means that you can get free stuff if you look in the right places. Craigslist and LetGo.com both have freebies up for grabs and there are many other websites that can direct you to free stuff. Sites like Shopkick and Checkpoints have rewards programs for taking surveys and watching ads. Just look up "free stuff on the internet" and you'll see a plethora of sites that show you whats on sale , where to get coupons, samples, freebies and much more. Take a few minutes to check it out and be surprised at how many things you can get online for free.
Recycle aluminum cans
Do you drink soda? Beer? Ice tea? Many drinks come in aluminum cans and most people simply toss them out. That's like throwing money into your garbage can. If your buying drinks in a can - start saving the cans and turn them in...or sell your bags of cans to a friend or neighbor for a couple of bucks if you don't feel like taking them in - either way - you can earn some extra scratch by putting them in a different container instead of your garbage can. You can save glass and bottles too but to be honest after a couple hauls of glass - it just didn't seem worth it to me - the glass is heavy and takes up a lot of space - plus - where I am at - they want you to seperate green, brown , and clear glass so it can become a real chore - especially when the payout is so low- but aluminum cans have always seemed to pay off pretty nicely. Stop looking at them as trash and see them for what they are a valuable commodity that someone else will pay you for.
Hold a yard/garage sale
Yard sales can make you a lot of extra cash and help clean out your house at the same time. You might be surprised at how many things you can rid of for cash. I have seen yard sales raise over $1,000 on mostly stuff I would consider "junk" - but you know the old saying -
"One man's trash is another man's treasure"
So be sure to put up lots of signs right off of busy streets and put an ad in craigslist, facebook, and Nextdoor.com to drum up as much attention as you can. During the spring is one of the best times to hold it and if you can, try to coordinate with your neighbors to have a block sale which will attract a lot more buyers to your yard. Be sure to pick a weekend with good weather and invite all your friends. Don't leave money on the table - negotiate good prices for high value stuff, but sell little things for cheap and make your money on volume.
These are not the only ways to save money, but it’s a good start. Try to put your savings plan into place as soon as possible, even if it is only saving your change or skipping fast food once a week – at least it’s a start. Once you get into the mind set, it becomes easier as you start looking for more opportunities to put money away and put it to better use. Remember, each dollar you own is an opportunity – don’t squander it.
Please be sure to check out my others articles on real estate, investing , and cryptocurrency ( and some other random dog stuff)
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