There are many reasons why you might want to spend less money on a day-to-day basis. Maybe you want to save for a vacation or a new car. Maybe you want to start investing for retirement or start a college savings fund for your child. Maybe the global economic crisis has punched a hole in your paycheck and you feel you need to cut back on expenses. Whatever your reasons for wanting to save money, here are a few tips to help you spend $5 less a day.
While you may think all of your money is going to bills and other necessary expenses, you may be surprised to discover how much you spend on frivolous things like pricey gourmet coffee or a night out with friends. A budget allows you to see exactly where your money is going and will help you find areas where you can cut back. You can find instructions for making a household budget online, use software such as Microsoft Excel or Quickbooks, or visit a professional financial planner.
With the price of gasoline averaging more than $3.50 a gallon, one of the quickest and easiest ways to spend less money is to use less gas. Whether you walk, ride a bicycle, carpool with coworkers or use public transportation, even one less trip to the gas station will help you save. Using less gasoline has the added benefit of helping the environment.
Frozen dinners and prepared food from your grocer’s deli counter may seem convenient but the costs can add up faster than you expect. Dishes such as stews, casseroles, pasta and meals cooked in a crock pot can be made in large batches and frozen for later. Besides helping you and your family consume fewer calories and eat healthier foods, planning meals will help you reduce your grocery bill. You’ll be able to use coupons, take advantage of weekly sales to stock up on items you use frequently and cut down on impulse shopping. Planning a weekly grocery list also helps you save money by avoiding the convenience store where items such as soft drinks can cost two to three times more than at the supermarket.
Brown bag it
Rather than grabbing lunch from the fast food restaurant on the corner or a candy bar from the vending machine, bring your own food to work. You’ll receive all of the same health benefits as you do from cooking at home. You’ll also save money by resisting the temptation to splurge on unhealthy snacks. The same goes for making coffee or tea at home and bringing it to work in a reusable cup or keeping supplies at your desk. Instead of buying a fancy latte, put that five-dollar bill in your piggy bank.
Gardening is another good way to reduce the amount you spend on groceries. Many herbs, fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers so even those with small spaces, such as an apartment balcony, can keep a small garden. If you have room in your yard or access to a community garden, growing and canning your own produce will help you save money on your grocery bill and provide delicious food all year long. If you’re especially dedicated and your municipal ordinances allow it, you may be able to save on eggs, meat and dairy products by raising small livestock.
You may think there isn’t much you can do to cut down on your utility bills. However, even simple things, such as filling a gallon-size zipper bag with water and putting it in your toilet tank, can cut down on the amount of water you use. Slay any vampire electronics in your home and switch to energy-efficient light bulbs to help you use less electricity. With a little research, you can find dozens of ways to reduce your energy consumption and cut costs.
Instead of dropping a load of cash to go out with friends, why not invite them to your place? Rent movies, play a game or catch up on your favorite television series with a service like Netflix or Hulu. Split the cost of ordering pizza or host a potluck dinner. If staying home sounds too dull, many communities have free or low-cost art exhibits, museums, theater in the park or other inexpensive and fun activities. Check with your local visitors’ bureau to discover what options are available in your area.
While conserving energy or planning a week’s worth of meals may not seem to save much money at first, the amount will add up over time. This is where a monthly budget can prove especially helpful. You’ll be able to keep track of your savings more easily and adjust your spending as needed. Depending on your habits and your commitment, you could spend an average of $5 less per day in only a few weeks. In a few months, you might save even more.