All of us deep down want to save money! It’s why your here, and it’s why I write these blogs. But did you know saving money doesn’t have to be a terrible, depressing exercise in not spending? In this article I share some of my small steps that you can start taking now in order to make you a better consumer and save your wallet a few hard earned dollars!
#1. Check your habits
The easiest and most common place to start when thinking of saving money is doing a little bit of introspection! We all have tastes and sweet spots for certain things ( mine being craft coffee ), but in the quest of saving money and becoming financially independent it is worth calculating in numbers some of your habits that cost you money so you can revaluate and either avoid these habits or pursue them in a smarter, more financially conscious way ! For example, I recently calculated the amount of coffee I bought for my local coffee roaster ( Blueprint Coffee in St.Louis ). I calculated that I was spending on average $100 per MONTH on coffee! Now I love Blueprint but I have since cut back on my coffee shop spending spree that I used to go on! This choice doesn’t make me stop drinking craft coffee though! I make mine at home using much more affordable, locally roasted beans! Which areas of your life can you calculate? Maybe you collect? Maybe you love a specific restaurant? Try to find ways to adapt and change your habits so you don’t end up spending an unnecessary amount of money.
#2. Watch out for “Fake Deals”
A long time ago I noticed a deal at my local grocer that stated “4 Mangos for $4”. This deal, historically implies that if you do not buy 4 Mangos you will punished. However I bought only 1 mango, which appeared on my receipt as $1. Although I have been to some farmers markets where this wasn’t the case I have found that most “X for X” deals in big chain stores are indeed fake and are there to attempt to persuade you to over-consume. However, if you can fight this marketing strategy you can actually come out on top and score some very affordable items
#3. Learn the Value of ” Loss Leaders”
Here’s a weird thing about me. I do not shop at 1 store. This is exactly what grocery stores want you to do. I actually shop at a multitude of stores for different things. I buy Grain-Free Cat food from Natural Grocers, I buy produce from Wal-Mart and I buy coffee from International Provisions. For snacks I am a big supporter of Asian or International stores that carry high-quality but lesser known snacks here in the states. My reason for this is simple. Loss Leaders. Every store has items they lose money on or at the very least attempt to be competitive with. For natural grocers their Grain-Free Cat food is 13.87 for 5 Pounds vs Wal-Marts $16 for 4 Pounds. However, Natural Grocers produce is much more expensive than Wal-Marts. The reason for this is simple, ” What brings people in to buy?” In Natural Grocers I come for the Cat Food but end up buying maybe some drinks and some snacks. If I do this, the loss on the cat food was worth it since I made up for this loss by buying other items. However, if I’m selective and smart about what I buy I can target these competitive items, and save a few bucks for myself in the process!
#4. Eating Out and Losing Money
We all know eating out is more expensive than making food for yourself. This has been the case for a long time. However, eating out does not need to be a death sentence for your wallet. Here are a few tips on saving money while eating out.
- Never Buy Drinks – This is definitely an obvious for those that are in the game of saving money but sweet-sugary drinks are typically margin makers for businesses. They are bad for your health and bad for your wallet! Avoid drinks at all cost. Asking for water is a great way of reducing decisions but also saves you up to $2-3 every time you eat out( Once a day for 1 year=$720 ).
- Do your research- A part of saving money is learning how to eat, which usually requires learning “Where” to eat. I do not eat at chains or fancy eateries. These businesses have their pricing figured out perfectly. And I am not always in the mood for microwaved value meals. I have found local, small scale restaurants offering amazing deals and amazing values. This took me a few years of trial and error but now I can get lunch for $6 , all while eating relatively healthy, non-processed food
- “Value” can be hidden- OkiMama is an amazing restaurant in my old college town of Columbia, Missouri. They make some of the best Bao-Zu money can buy for only around $1-2. However their best value is their $10 Bulgogi Fried Rice. Now, this may be expensive for 1. But I almost always eat this with my girlfriend because it is HUGE! Making both our “meals” only $5 a piece. Most places will give you an extra plate if you ask. Finding these types of meals is a great way to save money!
5. Cancel your Subscription’s – A big reason companies like Hulu, Disney, and Netflix, and Planet Fitness keep their subscriptions so low is so that you never cancel, ever! Take a seat and look over what exactly you are paying for and reconsider if you actually need some of them. I reduced all my subscriptions down to just 1 recently ( Netflix ) and this saved me collectively over $500 a year!
That’s it! A key part of making money is saving money, but saving money doesn’t have to be depressing! I hope this article gives you and idea of how you can live the life you want more efficiently all while pursuing your goals! How are you finding ways to save money? Keep checking back in and see how you can upgrade your wallet and spending habits while we go on the journey of getting rich together! – Landon