10 Super Easy Tips to Help You Save Money
She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyeard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable. - Proverbs 31:16-17
I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to save money; and since my family has gone from two incomes to one, saving money is imperative around here. For a long time, I though saving big was limited to couponing. Now, the abundance of money saving mobile apps has changed the game. Still, I've found that nothing is more rewarding than savings gained as a result of making a few simple lifestyle changes. I've compiled a list of 10 super easy tips to help you save the money you work so hard for:
1. Brew your own coffee. Now I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but the truth be told, all those espressos and lattes (not to mention that banana bread) add up -- quickly. Even when all the stars are aligned (Star Rewards, that is), you still wind up paying more for the convenience of store brewed coffee than if you'd brewed your own cup at home. And besides, who doesn't like waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house? If you just have to have a specialty coffee drink, check out this post from Love & Coffee for some delicious recipes. Psst! You'll find some copycat Starbucks recipes here.
2. Eat breakfast at home. You're scrambling trying to get out the door to beat traffic, which means you probably don't have time for breakfast. No problem. You'll just stop at McDonald's and grab a breakfast sandwich -- because you have to pass by it on your way to work anyway, right? Wrong. On two counts. First off, stop skipping breakfast. Your mind and body will thank you.
Secondly, stop eating out. If breakfast sandwiches are your thing, make your own breakfast sandwiches ahead of time, throw them in the freezer, and when it's time to roll, simply heat and eat. Control your spending and your waistline. Bam! Want a healthier, more filling option? Try these make ahead overnight oats from The Best of Life . These are my newfound favorite, especially in the colder months.
3. Cook from scratch. If you're not much for cooking, then the idea of cooking from scratch may seem laughable, but trust me when I say it's easier than you think. If your pantry is already stocked with essentials, then you probably already have all you need to make everything from homemade tortillas and granola bars to this awesome red sauce that I use whenever I make veggie lasagna. Once you see how easy it is to cook from scratch, you'll think twice before buying pre-made again.
4. Ditch the nail salon for a DIY mani-pedi. Let's say the cost of a basic manicure at your local nail shop is $15. Add to that the cost of a basic pedicure, say $20, plus a tip of 15 to 20 percent before sales tax -- you're looking at spending a little more than $40 for one visit alone. If you've got acrylic nails, upgrade to deluxe services or visit more than once a month, you can expect your cost to double. Save yourself some money and opt for a mani-pedi in the comfort of your own home.
A quick rummage through your kitchen might turn up some inexpensive ingredients (like those coffee grounds from your home brew) to make your own hand and foot scrub. My girls and I love this Chocolate Coffee Sugar Scrub from Chemistry Cachet.
5. Refashion your wardrobe. You don't have to be a stellar seamstress to make a few minor tweaks to your wardrobe. If you can work a sewing machine and have the patience to sit through a few YouTube tutorials, then you're well on your way to saving money -- and gaining a few new pieces of clothing in the process.
Want some new skinny jeans but can't stomach the $80 price tag? Check out Pinterest for tutorials on how to refashion old boot cut jeans into flattering skinny jeans or how to take in oversized shirts and tops. These came in handy when I wanted new clothes for vacation! (Notice I said wanted, not needed).
6. Style your own hair. If you're going to the hair salon, you're probably shelling out a nice chunk of change on a regular basis. Save yourself a few dollars by cutting out one appointment and tackling your mane yourself -- especially if you're going for something you can do at home, like a shampoo and blow-dry. For more complicated services that have the potential to leave you emotionally scarred if not done correctly -- highlights, relaxers or perms, cuts -- please see your stylist.
If you wear more intricate styles like box braids, cornrows or twists, and you’re in the mood to learn something new, YouTube and Pinterest have some great tutorials. An added bonus for mastering these styling techniques: you now have a potential side hustle making anywhere from $75 on up.
7. Shop Goodwill for clothes. I used to have a thing about buying secondhand, but I quickly got over my "thing" when I started finding really nice clothes for my kids and my family really cheap. I'm not a brand junky by any means, but there's something about finding $200 BCBG dresses for $10 that makes me wanna holler. Aye!
If you are brand particular, here's a tip a friend gave me: shop Goodwill stores in more upscale neighborhoods for a better selection of brand name items. Another tip I received, shop your local thrift stores if you’re looking for great buys on discounted athletic gear.
8. Drive a little further to see new movies. Once upon a time, going to matinees was the cheapest way to see new releases. However, my family has found that driving a little further from home to see new movies actually ends up being cheaper. I'm talking new releases for under $5. Now, if you're looking for cushy seats and fancy amenities, you probably won't find them here. But it's dark and you're only there for a couple of hours, so it's really not that bad.
If you're just looking to hang out and aren't pressed about seeing new releases, check out your local discount theaters for older movies showing for as little as $1.50.
9. Pack your lunch. Buying fast food is always going to hit you deep in your pockets . If you have kids and let them buy school lunches, then you're in for a double whammy. My daughter's school charges $2.50 for lunch. That's $12.50 a week! To avoid feeling the squeeze, try packing lunches instead. Yes, it takes some planning, but you'll save big. Left over dinners like this Chicken Pasta with Kale and Butternut Squash divided into smaller portions are great for adult lunches.
For your kiddos, try these easy (and healthy) back to school lunch ideas. If possible, steer clear of pre-packaged items like Lunchables, which add up, especially if you have multiple children. Instead, grab a few mini cookie cutters, deli meat, cheese, crackers, a few storage containers and make your own. I did this last week and the kids loved it!
10. Switch your tech and entertainment providers. It's not impossible to save on the technology and entertainment services that you love. It just takes doing some homework -- and a true evaluation of your needs vs. wants. My husband and I cut our monthly cellphone bill by $120 just by switching providers. We dropped cable years ago and switched to Netflix, which saves us about about $800 a year. And that landline? We dropped it with that hideous cable, internet, phone bundle and switched to Vonage, which costs us a little less than $13 a month. If you’re not ready to make the switch, at least contact your current providers to see about negotiating new rates.
We work hard for our money, ladies, so let's follow in the footsteps of the Virtuous Woman and practice good stewardship so that we can save more and give more. I hope you found these money saving tips useful and can put them into practice in your household. If you have tips you'd like to share, please email them to me or post them in the comments. Until next time, let’s continue to honor our calling and be the women God has purposed us to be. Love!