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You may remember a post I wrote around a year ago about 15 Easy Tips for Saving Money without Changing Your Lifestyle, and these tips are absolutely still applicable. However, these simple budgeting tips will slightly alter your lifestyle while reaping substantial financial rewards, so combine all 25 tips to be your most financially responsible self– while still having fun and being fabulous. I’m only 26; being un-fabulous really isn’t an option.
1. Palliate the payoff.
There is actually a program which allows you to simplify your credit card bills into one monthly payment, and it’s called Payoff. I just graduated a few years ago, so I know first hand how intimidating accumulating credit card debt and student loans can be. You feel like you’re drowning, and more and more water keeps rushing in. You make a relative dent in one credit card, and then you get the bill for the other 2 or 3, and all your hard work seems fruitless.
Payoff.com is in the business of empowering people in all financial stages to become more financially healthy and live their dreams– basically, they’re in the YOU business. All you have to do is apply through their website, which won’t affect your credit score, and see if you’re eligible for their program. They’ll help you get rid of your credit card balances, so you can move forward in your life and achieve your wildest dreams. The application takes minutes, and somebody’s always there to instant chat to answer your questions.
And if you’re not approved for their loan program? Payoff can still help. You can still utilize the “Lift” program, which is designed as a credit and money education platform to help you gain control over simple areas of your financial life.
I’m speaking from experience, the larger my bank account grows, the more likely I am to splurge on $400 worth of makeup and athletic equipment I have no intention of ever using. Sign up online for auto-transfers with your bank. I have mine set so that as soon as I’m paid, a chunk of money is automatically moved from my checking into my savings account.
Also, if you anticipate just transferring the money back over to facilitate a binge spending spree, make sure your savings and checking accounts are held at separate banks. For example, my checking account is held at SunTrust, and my savings accounts is with BB&T. External transfers can take days to complete, while internal transfers take minutes. Odds are you won’t still want those 7 Lululemon tops in 3 days, especially once the $500 price tag settles into your stomach.
3. Hit the pavement.
I would like to preface this tip with the following message: I am not supporting a sedentary lifestyle with no physical activity. However, instead of throwing $50-$100 dollars at a gym every month, see how much you enjoy exercising in the outdoors. Transition from treadmill to sidewalk, Stair Master to actual stair climbing, or elliptical to something way better than an elliptical.
4. Bye Starbucks, hello Keurig.
The amount of money I spend at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts is sickening. To be completely transparent, I went to one of the two coffee shops, averaging about $3.50 per visit, just about every work day of last year. Yep, that’s 280 (56×5) days, totaling around $980 in coffee per year.
Now, I’m not going to tell you to forgo caffeine altogether; that’s just crazy talk. However, if you can reduce your average daily coffee cost to around $1 (Keurig k-kup + creamer + sugar cost), you’ll save around $700 annually. That’s $700 you can invest in your Roth IRA, put towards your student loans, or use for your play money. Any way you look at it, you’ll benefit generously from this cost effective switch. Plus, I think coffee mugs are much cuter than Styrofoam and/or paper cups. Preserve the environment, people.
5. Drink water.
This tip obviously offers multiple benefits. I’m sure one of your resolutions involved being healthier in some way, shape, or form, so avoid ordering drinks when you go out to eat. Unless it’s a weekend or you’re celebrating a special occasion, get out of the habit of ordering a glass of wine or a Diet Coke with your meal. Water is free, and your body needs it. Plain and simple. If the average person dines out 3 times per week, you’ll save approximately $15 per week or $840 per year by only ordering water. Cray.
In conclusion, buy a cute Tervis tumbler and drink more h2O.
6. Pack a lunch.
Again, the benefits to a packed lunch are plentiful. Not only are you more likely to eat healthy if you arbitrarily pack your own lunch, but you’ll also save a substantial amount of money in the restaurant/meals expense category. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a horrible planner, so I use the “I don’t have time” excuse as to why I spend $12 a day on lunch. That $12 per day equals $60 per week or $3,360 per year. Holy friggin’ guacamole. For over 3 grand, I should make time to pack a lunch every morning.
If you can reduce your average packed lunch value to around $5, you’ll save just under $2,000 per year in meals. You can buy a car with power locks and windows with that… so pack your lunch.
7. Ditch your credit cards.
The #1 tip I’ve ever gotten or will ever give for controlling frivolous spending is to only use cash. When you physically witness your wallet shrinking, you’re left wondering a) where all your money went and b) how much you have left. Credit cards make it so easy for us to feel better about spending our money… because you’re not seeing your money disappear. You’ll be much less easily coerced by your subconscious to get your nails done when you avoid swiping your card, trust me.
So, how do you start? After your next paycheck, withdraw an amount you think is reasonably realistic for the week or two weeks and make that your blood money. It’s all you’ve got. Try your hardest to not charge anything— gas, groceries, and other essentials included. Yes, it’s less convenient to pay inside the gas station, but again, this is a small change that will generate big results. You’ll be amazed at how much you have left at the end of the period, and the remaining funds should go directly into your savings account before you withdraw cash for your next period. Do not let your cash carry over into the following pay period; you don’t want to get comfortable and/or spend happy at any point during this process, elsewise the frivolity will kick back in.
8. Not without coups.
It’s called RetailMeNot, and you need to have it on your smart phone. This app will show you any and all available discounts in stores or online on any given day. I’ve started using it so religiously that I won’t even go to stores if they’re not offering some sort of a promotion.
Each discount also comes with a success rate, so you know full well if your code is legit or not. One of my ultimate pet peeves is how Bath and Body Works and Ulta send our coupon codes… which conveniently only work for 7 of the 385038608603 products in their store. False. Advertising. RetailMeNot sees through the nonsense and tells it like it is. In conclusion, this app is awesome, and you need it in your life.
9. Shop online through eBates.
If you’re in master saver mode, I discourage you from shopping online at all. Just like the credit card mentality, it’s much easier to push “Submit Order” without any immediate regrets than to anxiously watch your stack of dollar bills rapidly deplete. If you must engage in online shopping, use eBates. You can sign up to get paid to shop at over 1,800 stores online, including Piperlime, Amazon, and Best Buy. You’ll literally get cash back via check or PayPal, and there really aren’t any gimmicks or catches. eBates is the real deal.
10. Hoard no more.
Sell your old stuff on eBay, Craig’s List, or on newer community platforms like Bib + Tuck, which allows you to sell gently worn/used clothing, shoes, and accessories with ease. For your finances and your sanity, don’t end up on Lifetime’s Hoarders or TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. Plus, especially with clothing, the more you have, the less likely you are to remember specific garments. Keep funneling through to make sure you’re not still stashing clothes from high school with the hopes of maybe needing them for a potential Halloween costume in the distant future. If the Bib + Tuck or similar community guidelines aren’t your thing– and there isn’t a Plato’s Closet or second-hand store nearby, at the very least donate your items… just get them out of your life. It’s all part of the fresh slate mentality.
What small changes do you make during a financial makeover? Anything simple budgeting tips I left out?