Anyone can toss together tricky ways to save money, however saving money is as much of a commitment as a lifestyle modification. As an ASU college student paying tuition out of pocket – saving money is a vital piece of my daily life. YES I made it through university with NO DEBT! *insert happy dance* I also have bills such as water, groceries, internet, phone, my car and insurance included. On top of that – I feed this travel habit that I can’t seem to kick. My predisposition is to be a number cruncher – ahem economist here – so creating spreadsheets and budgets are a part of my nature.
I can’t draw to save my life so when I doodle all I can come up with are lists. Nearly all lists are what I can manage to organize for the day – what I plan to earn this week as a bartender– how I can optimize my bill pays for the month – budgets for Iceland – again doodling for type A’s.
The key way I save money is not eating out for meals and not drinking in bars. Not to say that I don’t indulge, but let’s just say that there is no place that I frequent more than once a month. It seems dull and I’m sure that my friends consider me a bit of a wet blanket, but refraining from dropping $50 on dinner allows two extra tanks of gas while I’m traveling.
I also bring my own lunches to school and to work. It takes time, but how long are you preparing a sandwich as opposed to sitting in a drive through?
This is a rough example of eating fast food five times a week:
|Monday: Big Mac Meal||$6.65||per meal|
|Tuesday: Southwest Salad||$5.32||per meal|
|Wednesday: Subway Club||$8.60||per meal|
|Thursday: Chicken Burrito (Chipolte)||$7.22||per meal|
|Friday: Chalupa Meal||$7.43||per meal||$35.22|
This is not including tax or meals that come without a drink. Your grand total for the week is $35, think about how that adds up: $1,820 per year! This my friend is a round trip plane ticket to Europe.
|Monday: Meat and Cheese Sandwich||$2.18||per meal|
|Tuesday: Fruit Protein Shake||$3.46||per meal|
|Wednesday: Chicken breast with salad||$4.78||per meal|
|Thursday: Meat and Cheese Sandwich||$2.18||per meal|
|Friday: Chicken breast with salad||$4.78||per meal||$17.38|
To find the per serving price on any given item divide the servings per container by the unit price.
Not only is packing lunch a healthier option but it saves money. If you were to pack lunches similar to the table above for a year spending would be $903 per year. This would put your yearly savings at around $900. Again this is a lifestyle modification and something that would need to be practiced– but the results are worth it.
2. Impulse buying is tricky and it is so on purpose.
Impulse buys are targeting your ‘want’ as opposed to ‘need’. Producers want consumers to receive less and for as much money as possible. Economists have formulas ,theories, and practices dedicated to discovering the tipping point of how much the consumers are willing to pay for as little as possible. Just remember that impulse buying adds up. If you are to succumb to impulse at least buy the greatest amount for your money. Before I buy anything I ask myself ‘will I need this’ if the answer is yes, I follow up with ‘can I find this cheaper’. Example: Did you know that a 20 oz. (1.25 L) bottle of Coca Cola from the checkout line is on average $1.79? Were you aware that a 2 Liter bottle can be purchased for $.99? Now for real, pinching pennies to this degree is a bit ridiculous, but it’s the idea that I’m trying to sell. Before you grab your Coke and M&M’s from the checkout line – think a second and grab it from the soda aisle or the candy aisle.
3. Nix Vices
I won’t delve into this entirely however consider this, smokers of all kinds. One pack of Marlboro’s cost $9.65 if you smoke a pack a day for a week that is $67.55 – you drop $3,522.
My vice is coffee. I cut my costs by once again brewing it myself and using washable portable mugs. Starbuck’s coffee that you can brew yourself can range anywhere from $8-$10 and I consume about a bag a week. I discovered that a plain Venti Coffee habit costs $17 a week, which adds up to $884 a year. I can’t imagine my spending if I actually enjoyed Pumpkin Spice Lattes. If you consume one bag of coffee a week at $10 it adds up to $520 per year.
These are just a few ways that I cut costs in order to do as I please. It’s the little purchases that add up and the smallest changes that allows for more wiggle room. My greatest advice is to develop you own budget and see where you are spending the most money and strategies to improve. I recommend spread sheets.You might just save up that trip to France!
How do you save?
Your Cobweb Clearer, Kate