We all want to save more, but can we do it without giving up what we love? Answer: yes. The trick is to tackle big picture goals with small steps, as opposed to imposing multiple small picture goals that require too much discipline. When a goal takes too much work, most of us tend to stop working at it altogether instead of moderating it. For instance, how many times have you heard of people going on an extreme diet and ditching it completely when it gets too hard? They could have made more progress simply by cutting out bread every once in awhile, right? But the natural human tendency is to say “forget this goal” instead of “let’s take this goal down a notch.”
The same goes for being able to save more. If you tell yourself you’re going to cut out Starbucks forever, never go to happy hour, unplug all your lights and take cold showers, you’re probably going to be really unhappy and give up.
So don’t do that. Instead, set goals you can actually achieve.
We want to flip the script and call BS on those lists that tell you to suck the fun stuff out of your life in order to save a buck. Here are the best ways to save money without living like a monk.
Wondering how to save money on food? Well, we’re not telling you to stop going out to dinner because hey, we get it. Going out is a social thing. It’s fun, it’s delicious, and it’s a treat. You should always be treating yourself.
But here’s the thing. While going out to dinner often consists of dishes you wouldn’t otherwise attempt to cook, when you get takeout, you’re usually just ordering stuff you could probably make yourself. Takeout adds up. In one extreme case, a woman spent a total of $11K a year on delivery food.
You don’t have to nix all your takeout altogether, but you can save more if you occasionally ditch the $12 sandwich and buy yourself a loaf of bread and a deli platter for the same price. If going to the grocery store proves to be too much of a commitment, see if your city has a grocery delivery option available. Amazon Fresh, Delivery.com, and FreshDirect are all good examples. Yes, there might be a delivery fee, but you’ll be getting a lot more for it than a single chopped salad.
Time and time again, we’ve promised ourselves “no more $2 cans of Diet Coke from the office vending machine!” But guess what? That doesn’t work, because even if you purchase a value pack of soda, chances are you’ll crave a can when you’re out of the house and not near it. The same goes for water. We should all be packing canteens, but often that fails too and before you know it we’re back to buying 16 oz bottles of Fiji and it’s like…
So forget depriving yourself of the single serving beverages and instead buy in bulk the stuff you won’t be craving at 3:34 p.m. We’re talking toilet paper, paper towels, liquid soap, laundry detergent, etc. Not only will this save you a boatload of cash, but nothing looks sexier than coming out of Costco with a gigantic supply of toilet paper. It seems counterintuitive, but the more you buy, the more you save. If you don’t live near a big ol’ store like Costco (or if you do but don’t want to be seen with that much toilet paper), order online. Amazon, baby.
So keep buying Diet Coke. But stop buying 4-packs of toilet paper and get a 64-pack instead.
Individual streaming services are typically pretty cheap, but they can add up, and sometimes when people are budgeting these services are the first things to go. After all, how often do you really use Hulu anyway? All you watch is Law & Order once a week — you can give that up, right?
Wrong. Unless you literally (LITERALLY, not once a week, not occasionally) never use a streaming service, you will miss it when it’s gone. In the end, you’ll probably end up paying more for individual episodes or have to beg your brother for all of his passwords. It’s not spoiled to pay money for a streaming service when you use it.
If you’re looking for how to make 100 dollars fast, jump on the phone and renegotiate with the services you love to hate: your phone/cable/internet provider. If you call up your provider (let’s say Time Warner) and tell their retentions department you’re thinking about moving to a cheaper service, there’s a chance they’ll give you a discount. That’s not because Time Warner is a wonderful service (hahaha). It’s because big companies like Time Warner can afford to give you a little wiggle room with your cable bill. These companies would typically prefer to have you as a discounted customer rather than not have you at all. Getting $15 knocked off your monthly statement means a lot for you, but not too much for a huge service provider.
Now, spoiler alert. This won’t always work. It will often depend on who you get on the phone (or in person, if that’s your jam). However, sometimes it’s as easy as asking.
Making a vague promise to yourself like “I’ll save more this month and then invest it!” is hard to actually follow through on because it’s a decision you have to broach day after day. This is nothing to be ashamed of, seriously. The trick is to save more is to just take the guesswork out of how long you’ll stick with it. Instead, automate saving a portion of your paycheck/bi-weekly earnings. Boom! This way you A) don’t have to grapple with the decision of “save or spend?” on a regular basis, and B) can get used to a different amount of spendable income and adjust your purchases accordingly.
The Bottom Line On Saving Money Tips
Use our guidelines (and your logic) to distinguish between realistic saving money tips and tedious, rage-inducing lifestyle sacrifices you’ll never stick to anyway. You don’t have to suffer. If you stick to a smart budget and you’re mindful of your choices, you can be happy and still have cash to spare.