We’ve all been told to skip the morning latte or forgo the extra guac on our burritos, but those small expenses are not going to make-or-break your financial future. The real reason why people tell you to make those small sacrifices is to ingrain a habit of less-is-more into your head.
Finding different ways to reduce your expenses will allow you to maximize your savings and enabling you to relax when it comes to your bank statement each month.
Make a list of the cost of your necessities
Smart budgeting is easy if you take the time to illustrate out a list of necessities like living expenses, utilities, food and groceries. Having an understanding of your basic costs will give you a better idea of how much money you will want to put aside for savings before indulging in any pleasures or extra expenditures.
Take out cash ahead of time
One of the most common and wasteful expenses people often pay is debt card transaction fees. If you have to grab some cash from an ATM, instead of going to your bank-operated ATM for whatever reason and going to a third party ATM could cost you as low as $2 or as much as $5+ depending on the ATM location. There are some banks that offer zero-fee ATM transaction fees, but you have to search which bank is best for you. There are also banks that will redeem you each month for any ATM transactions that happen out of their network.
Another benefit of taking cash out ahead of time is to be prepared for any merchants who list minimum purchase requirements for the pleasure to pay with a credit card. We all know the annoying signs that point out that you’ll to spend more money if you are planning to pay with plastic.
Buy at grocery stores and prepare for yourself to save for yourself
Most Americans don’t just buy a coffee or add guac to their budgets, they rely on dining out and rapidly collecting additional expenses by doing so. People often complain about not having enough money and wish they made more, but they don’t look at what they are spending their money on in the first place.
Instead of buying a turkey sandwich or salad at the deli each day, it is much better to buy fresh turkey breast from the deli counter at the food store so you can stock up on enough food to last you the entire work week. This will enable you to reduce your expenses each day of the week, allowing you to prepare your food in advance and control how much of each ingredient is added to your meal.
Smart budgeting with shopping lists and discount programs
There are helpful shopping lists that offer weekly promotional discounts. You can also take advantage of club membership programs like Costco and BJ’s if you are looking to buy food in bulk. Shopping clubs offer big discounts for premium brand products. You can also find many different coupons and search for coupon codes to unlock discounts.
Saving money from small changes
Starting with the basics like feeding yourself, making small changes will have a big impact. Buying a coffee and skipping breakfast is not the best option. Instead, grab a piece of fruit, oatmeal or other good breakfast items from your local grocery store and prepare your coffee with breakfast at home. This will fuel you for the day and also help you save extra money on both food and coffee.
Challenge yourself to prepare your lunches for yourself Monday through Thursday so you can have a treat on each Friday. Rewarding yourself at the end of each week will create motivation for you to keep improving your behavior. You can take a step further and bring lunch for yourself on Fridays as well to save even more money during this challenge.
Make it a point to be interested in what you eat so you can be excited about preparing meals for yourself. You don’t need to make yourself a five start meal, but there are many easy dinner choices you can make for yourself that cost a few dollars to prepare and taste incredible.
Walking or biking over driving to save
Another helpful strategy to save money is to walk or ride your bike to commute into work, rather than rely on a car. When you ditch your car and make the commitment to biking to work, you can save hundreds of dollars per year on gas along with maintain the value of the vehicle for a longer period of time. Not only does this help your finances, biking (or walking) to work gives you an opportunity to exercise and achieve personal health benefits as well. Biking to work is one of the most effective smart budgeting moves you can make.
If you are hailing an Uber, you better hope the roads are not busy. The more traffic on the road, the more expensive an Uber will cost; it’s supply and demand which has created a strong business model for Uber and Lyft. Finding cheap rates is a rarity due to the heavy reliance on the ride-sharing apps even with their promotions ever so often.
E-scooters are a good alternative to cars
You can take advantage of the newly introduced wave of e-scooters and the ride-sharing economy sensation. Companies like Lime, Jump and Bird are public ride-sharing platforms that riders can activate from their smart phone and ride scooters for a fraction of the price of an Uber or Lyft car ride.
The newly introduced fleet programs have given commuters a valid alternative to driving cars to work and a way to save money on high gas prices. One dilemma people have had in the past are scooters with no battery life, no available scooters in the area or damaged scooters from other riders.
Companies have started to introduce private label e-scooter brands to enable riders to use their vehicles as they please. These scooters might be a high-priced ticket item compared to an Uber ride, but you can find affordable scooter options that fit your needs. There are also financing programs to help you get your scooter with almost-immediate approvals based on your credit score and current employment status.
Continue practicing smart budgeting
It takes hard work, but taking the time to go grocery shopping, preparing your meals in advance and minimizing your dining out expenses will lead to many benefits. You will save more money, you will eat healthier and you will feel much more confident about your weekly budgeting by staying consistent.