A penny saved is a penny earned. Save for a rainy day. Pay yourself first. It’s all sound advice, but you may be feeling that your paycheck doesn’t go far enough as it is. Still, as tight as your budget might seem, it does have room to begin saving.
Even if you’re saving just $1 a day, you’re doing something good for your finances. It may feel like such a small amount won’t make a difference, but every dollar adds up. Whatever you’re saving for — college, a vacation, retirement — these four saving hacks will help you get there despite a snug budget.
1. Shop Around for the Best Deals
In order to have money to save, you need to spend less of it to begin with. That means you should shop around for the best prices on the things you need.
Luckily, the internet makes this easy. It takes mere seconds to find out whether Amazon, Target, Walmart, or another site offers the cheapest price on your favorite energy bar. You might find a similar product at an even lower price, so compare all available options before making a purchase decision.
Remember, too, that comparison shopping is not always about paying the least amount. Although finding great prices is important, buying long-lasting items you won’t have to continually repurchase is a smarter use of your money. For example, school uniforms made of sturdier fabrics may cost more today, but you’ll save long-term by not having to buy them as often.
Whether you’re saving by finding rock-bottom prices on the necessities of life or simply buying them less often, that’s money you can bank. Take the money your bargain shopping leaves in your pocket and put it in your savings account. A debit card with a round-up saving feature can augment your efforts. By rounding each purchase up to the next dollar and automatically transferring the difference to savings, it helps you save painlessly.
2. Make Your Good Deals Better
So you’ve Google searched your way to great prices on everything from peanut butter to tube socks. You may be about to buy in bulk — another money-saving move — but hold on a sec. You don’t want to squander an opportunity to make your good deal even better.
Coupon codes are a great way to get discounts, and the internet makes this a snap, too. Honey and Capitol One Shopping are Chrome extensions that will scour the web looking for codes that pertain to your purchases. If they find any, they’ll automatically apply those offering the biggest savings to your cart at checkout time. Capitol One Shopping will even keep an eye on products you’ve bought — or just looked at — and inform you if their prices drop.
If your coupon code–sniffing sites come up empty, you can always go straight to the source. Asking your favorite brand for a coupon is easy and often yields results — it never hurts to ask. These may be the paper kind you take to the store, but the savings are equally valuable.
Finally, don’t pay for shipping if you don’t have to. Of course, many people have Amazon Prime accounts for just this shipping-shunning purpose, but it’s hardly your only option. FreeShipping.org can help you locate free or discounted shipping codes for hundreds of e-commerce sites. And when the live chat rep on your favorite e-tailer’s site asks how they can help, ask for free shipping. They just might say yes rather than see you abandon your cart.
3. Considering Buying — and Selling — Used Items
By now all this smart shopping should have saved you plenty of green you can sock away in your savings account. Hold the phone — there’s more where that came from.
As good as the bargains are online and with discounts thrown in, they’re no match for the savings you’ll reap by buying secondhand. You can find great deals on everything from clothes to kitchenware at thrift stores and garage sales. You may even be able to buy items in good condition for less — often much less — than half their original cost.
Want a cool leather couch for $400? One savvy buyer who was willing to buff out some minor scratches recently scored this deal on Facebook Marketplace. He had researched the brand and model and learned a similar couch sold for close to $8,000. Other steals can be found on Letgo, thredUP, and eBay.
Of course, those online used good marketplaces work in the other direction, too. If you have something lying around your house that you don’t want anymore, why not try selling it online? There are many different ways to make money through eBay, including listing auctions, creating custom listings, becoming a seller for hire, and more. You can buy yourself a small treat with the fruits of your decluttering efforts, then add the rest to your nest egg.
4. Cut Down on Unnecessary Expenses
Saving money on a tight budget comes down to your priorities. You can start by cutting back on unnecessary purchases like clothing at retail prices and expensive dinners out with friends. When you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, try nature therapy in a local park instead. Trade your Target run for an actual run.
A close examination of your expenditures over the past month will likely reveal relatively pain-free ways to cut back. How many of the subscription services you signed up for are you actually using? Free trials lure you in, but then you’re left paying for months or years afterward. Chances are you can cancel at least one or two without even noticing they’re gone.
If you have children, resist the impulse to overspend on toys. Instead, encourage them to play outside and use their imagination. Independent, unstructured play will spark creativity and independence while reducing the accumulation of costly playthings.
And don’t forget your home. You can save on your electricity bills by bumping your thermostat up a few degrees in summer and down in winter. Switch out incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LED ones. These bulbs last longer, consume far less energy, and — because they don’t contain mercury like compact fluorescents — are safe. These eco-friendly changes will let you keep more green as you go green.
The bottom line is that there are many ways to save money and keep your budget in check. Use these four hacks to help you get started with your savings journey today.
Article Submitted By Community Writer