Welcome to the age of the “side hustle.” The age of secondary and tertiary jobs in order to live the “American Dream.” We are living in a time where work pays too little and living costs too much. We are a nation in trillions of dollars worth of debt. We are a people encouraged by society to spend, spend, spend with a very small percentage of the wealthy saving and investing. The rest of us are over here yelling, “Save what? Invest with what?! I barely make enough to pay my bills and put food on the table!” Does anyone else see a problem with this? Perhaps it’s time to stray from the flock here.
I have spent the majority of my adult life living paycheck to paycheck, often times financing living expenses, not just luxuries I can’t afford like other young people. Not that there is a middle class anymore, but if there were, I would say I just barely scratched the surface. Most of the time I would say I have been part of the poor class. Let me just say right now, that there is no shame in being poor. If your needs are met and you are happy, then own it. But if you are poor because you’ve racked up a ton of debt, your credit score is in the crapper, and you manage money like a blind person manages colors, then this article is for you! So, let’s get to five ways you can save money every month!
#1. Make a Budget…NOW.
You can read my post on how to start living on a budget here. The concept is simple: find out how much money you make after taxes, subtract your necessities (bills and living expenses) and what you have left is what you can spend on luxuries, investments or savings. You may not have realized this, but writing down everything you spend can really bring to light the areas you’re over-spending and can create accountability for yourself.
#2. Grocery Shop Cost-Effectively
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that buying fruits and vegetables from local produce stands is SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than buying from grocery stores. Not only that but you’re supporting your local farmers.
I buy my other groceries and living necessities from Wal-Mart or Target depending on who has the better discount. Usually, Wal-Mart is cheaper. Groceries are far more expensive at the big name grocers like Publix. Don’t get me wrong, I love Publix, but I tend to only go there for their bo-go’s and the occasional deli and bakery splurge.
#3. Clip Coupons & Shop Sales
To be honest, I find clipping coupons to be annoying but I force myself to do it because I love the rush of looking at my shopping receipts and seeing how much I saved because of coupons and sales. If you really mean business about saving, start looking through the coupons you get in the mail. There are tons of resources to print coupons out online and plenty of extreme couponing pros that have websites that will teach you how to coupon effectively. One such group I personally follow is The Couponing Couple
#4. Use Credit Cards Strategically
You will never, and I mean NEVER, get out of your hole if you keep digging it deeper. Learn to sacrifice a little for the greater goal of financial freedom. Learn to do without, for now, so you can do more later. Quit using credit cards to buy luxuries. If you need to repair your credit, use credit cards to make purchases you budgeted for (i.e. gas, groceries, bills) so that way you can pay them off with the money you would have spent on that necessity. Only take on debt as an investment that will result in your ownership of an asset at the end of it (i.e., a home, a car, an education/training with a good career outlook).
#5. Start Saving Now! Even if it’s only a few dollars a week.
I know what you’re thinking…”Didn’t you just say that this article is for people who don’t have money to save?” Yes I did, but there is more to my madness here then just teaching you how to control your limited finances. The second part of the equation, and also something I am firm believer in, is building productive habits. Even if you don’t have much, the act of putting a little aside every week will re-wire your brain to save, not spend. Eventually, you will feel like you must do it. By the way, this works with everything and it can be used for bad as well so as a side note, be wary of what you’re training yourself to do in life.
I hope this helps you and your family fight the good fight and win your financial freedom! God Bless!