We often look for advice about how to be more prosperous when we are feeling a little lean in the wallet or purse, but it’s really a good idea to adopt wealth-making strategies in every-day life, rather than wait for a crisis to crop up. Following are ten awesome strategies to save money without having to compromise on your quality of life – all of which you can start TODAY.
1. Spend less on your monthly bills.
There are companies out there like billcutterz.com or billfixers.com who will call up your Internet provider, trash collection, electric company, and other monthly billers and negotiate better rates, but you can also just do it yourself. I recently spent five minutes emailing my electricity provider to ask them what they could do to save me some cash on my monthly bill. They sent me a link to ‘renew’ my contract with them that had kilowatt rates which were a whopping 25% cheaper than what I was already paying. I signed up for the “new” plan, and I estimate I’ll save almost $700 annually with that five-minute email I sent. I only wished I had done it sooner!
2. Cook at home.
Eating out is a form of socialization and is a fun splurge, but once you add drinks, dessert and a tip, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage, instead of building your own financial security. It can take a little planning, but look online for some great recipes, and take one day a week to pre-cook meals for several days in advance, so that when you come home starving from work, you can just pop something out of the freezer, warm it up and have a healthy, delicious meal for a fraction of what it would cost you to go through the drive-thru. When meeting friends to socialize, eat at home first, and then join them for dessert or a drink, and save big money on dining out.
3. Give yourself a time out.
Concerning that new pair of shoes you’re about to impulse buy – think again. Do you really want them, or are you trying to fill an emotional need by adding more of something to your life that you already have plenty of? If you aren’t sure, give yourself a little time to sit on it. If you really want something a week after you’ve seen it in the store window, you can go back and get it. This will usually cut impulse purchases in half. Zen habits has more great advice on this topic.
4. Borrow books or find them used.
There’s at least 15 online book sellers who sell both used and new books for cheap. Sure, it’s fun to browse the best-sellers and newly released books at places like Barnes and Nobles, but you’re going to pay a shocking 50 to 80 percent more for the same book if you purchase it there instead of from a discount or re-sale store. There’s also a public library in almost every decent-sized town, and you’d be surprised what great titles they offer.
5. House sit or surf.
One of the biggest expenses is rent. With the advent of sites like couchsurfing.com, you can get your travel on, AND save some serious money. Friends who have done this tell me they’ve met some amazing people, and experienced places from a totally different perspective than if they were just staying in a hotel. You can also house-sit for friends and neighbors for free. I had a good friend who did this while I was living in Hawaii. While I paid a ridiculous $1600 a month for a tiny, one-bedroom apartment, they were living large in a four-bedroom house overlooking the ocean for $0, and just a little extra effort to check their friend’s mail and water their plants while they were traveling for an extended period.
6. Go tiny.
If you are looking for a more permanent housing solution, the tiny house rage is growing. More cities are allowing tiny houses, and there are even loopholes to get around city ordinances that aren’t tiny-house friendly.
7. Don’t be cheap, be frugal.
If you are cheap, you’ll likely feel neglected and eventually splurge on something – that’s because you are coming from a place of lack. If you look at saving money as an act of frugality, you are much more likely to approach it like a game, and even enjoy it. Being frugal might also help you fire your creativity and complete an art project using novel or rare media – like leaves and tree limbs, or go to a new place you wouldn’t normally go, like a new hiking trail. You might also walk to the store and bump into a neighbor out with their dog and strike up a conversation, instead of wasting money on gasoline by driving – meanwhile missing an opportunity to connect to other people. Being frugal can be fulfilling and fun, not a total drag as you might suspect.
8. Track what you are spending.
This can be a little harder for some people, because if you don’t know what you are spending, you can stay in denial about areas that might need a little work. For instance, that morning cup of latte might seem like a small thing, but when you add up the financial collateral laid out over an entire month, ask yourself – do you really want to be dropping $100 to $150 on coffee? Especially when a decent coffee maker will brew that coffee for you while you are in the shower for about $8 bucks a month, even if you buy premium, organic, free-trade Joe.
9. Grow your own food.
This one’s a no-brainer. Organic seeds and some soil cost hardly anything. Since we don’t even know what’s in half the food we eat, it becomes not only an act of financial sovereignty, but of personal sovereignty to protect our health to grow our own herbs, vegetables, and fruits. This guy can teach you how to do it, even if you live in a city.
10. Change your emotional relationship with money.
Money is like an atom bomb – the energy which was used to create the atom bomb could have been used for good, it was just put in the wrong hands. Money is the same. It can be used to control people, such as with the fractional banking system – or it can be used to help with the exchange of ideas, and services. Eventually we won’t need money at all, but while we still use it, we may as well develop a positive relationship with it. If you see money as evil, or as an enemy, you can imagine you’ll have a hard time keeping much of it in your pocket – that’s because subconsciously you want to get rid of it as fast as you can. If you horde money, this can also be detrimental, because you miss out on ways to make more. If you aren’t sure what you believe about money, check into this list of both positive and negative affirmations and see if any of them give you a “ding” in your gut. If the ding isn’t for a positive belief, then write down at least ten ways you could make it so.
By implementing just a few of these strategies you can become more prosperous without feeling like you’ve lost a single thing. You still get to have fun, eat well, socialize, explore, travel, feed your mind, and live comfortably. What more could you ask for?