According to data from the Charles Schwab corporation, half of all Americans face credit card debt, 44% are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and only 38% report having built an emergency fund. On top of this, Americans report spending an average of $500 a month on “non-essential items.”
When it comes to spending habits, everyone is different, and most of our spending behaviors are shaped by either our families or social circles. What one person might consider “essential” might actually be considered frivolous to someone more seasoned in lessons of frugality.
I’m not here to strip you away from every creature comfort, but I will show you how to live a more economically efficient lifestyle and to not follow the savings of the average American but to do and be better!
Make Use Of Technology
Whether you consider yourself tech-savvy or not, there are many ways that technology can help you gain more control over your money.
Here are some of the ways you can utilize tech to work for your budgeting needs:
1. Download a savings app - whether you’re saving up for retirement or an upcoming vacation, there’s an app out there that can help you. Many work by rounding up dollar amounts that you spend and automatically putting the remaining micropayments into your savings. For example, if you spend $4.25 on a latte, that residual $0.75 will be deposited into your savings account. Here’s an article that dives a little deeper into some of the best options on the market as of 2021: https://bit.ly/3q23pzK
2. Automate your payments - putting your mortgage, rent payment, car payment, insurance, and other necessities means that you don’t have to keep track of due dates or remember to make online payments. Check and see what payments you can make automatically.
Take action on your savings by spending some time searching for money-saving technology.
Embrace Thrift Shopping
Before you spend top dollar on a brand new piece of furniture, household item, or piece of clothing, check and see what your local thrift store has to offer. Regular thrifters can attest to the “high” of finding a fabulous deal or hidden gem.
Many thrifters share that the items they find at stores are actually better quality than the cheaply-made new ones found at a traditional big box store. This makes sense because if a piece has withstood one person’s ownership and makes it back to the shelf, it must be pretty well made!
Not only will you likely save yourself a ton of money, but you’ll also be participating in reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling perfectly useful items. All the while, you’ll be supporting non-profit organizations that help people in your community.
To save more money and help with your budgeting plan, plan a trip to a thrift store or consignment shop. Remember being on a budget is not forever. So, if you're not a thrifter and you don't enjoy it, it's only temporary until you reach your goals!
Improve Your Cooking Skills
This is my favorite budget and savings tip!
Cooking your meals at home prove to be less expensive and healthier than eating out, but time often stands in the way, making a delivery meal or takeout all the more common. So, bring those money-saving skills into the kitchen!
Buy produce that’s in season. Springing for fresh blueberries in November or Brussels Sprouts in July will leave you with more money spent and less delicious final products. Plan your shopping around what’s in season in your local area, and watch your savings stack up! Here’s a resource you can use to see what’s in season for you: https://bit.ly/39f4A8N
Turn ripe fruits and vegetables into smoothies or soups. Are your strawberries starting to wrinkle? Is that red pepper looking a little sad? Is that bag of spinach looking like it’s on its last leg? Pop fruits and veggies into your freezer and plan a soup or smoothie to use within the coming week.
Don’t buy pre-cut fruits or produce. Unless you physically have trouble handling a knife, buying pre-cut produce is not a good way to spend your money. Whenever possible, cut it up yourself and use that opportunity to improve your knife skills!
P.S. Two resources I love to recommend to friends and clients who are looking for tips for cooking on a budget are:
- Budget Bytes, a library of recipes: https://www.budgetbytes.com
- Struggle Meals, a library of videos created by a professional chef utilizing clever and creative methods for saving money: https://bit.ly/3m6dkSd