Did you know that 55 million Americans have zero savings?
Whether it’s due to poor spending habits, low wages, or any other factor, saving money can definitely be a challenge.
You can’t always change your job or location, but there are still plenty of creative ways to save money.
Ready to learn how? Read on for six effective and quick ways to save money.
1. Stick to the 30-day rule
Among the biggest financial mistakes people make is impulse buying.
Just how large is the problem? One study found that the average American spends a staggering $5,400 on impulse buys every year. That’s around $450 a month – or over $100 every week.
Imagine how quickly your savings would grow if you saved $100 each week instead of spending it on items you don’t need. How can you put this great habit into practice?
Adopt – and stick to -the 30-day rule. Any time you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase, hold off for a full 30 days. Chances are the urge to buy it will have passed.
If, after 30 days, you’re still thinking of that item (and know for sure you would use it), take an honest look at your budget. Can you truly justify the purchase – or is it just a delayed impulse buy?
2. Embrace fun times at home
We all love going out to eat, watching movies, and having a great time with family and friends. The problem is that going out every weekend will quickly drain your finances.
The solution? Start hosting fun-filled evenings at your home instead of out on the town.
Fire up the barbecue and have everyone bring a side dish. You can watch movies, play cards, or enjoy a drink around the fire pit in the backyard. Everyone will have a blast – and save money in the process.
Want to carry this philosophy one step farther? Start entertaining your kids at home instead of taking them out all the time (or buying another electronic gadget).
Ride your bikes to the park, toss around a football or baseball, or camp out under the stars in your backyard. Not only will this help your savings account, but you’re giving your family the most valuable gift of all – your time.
3. Try meal planning
Eating out or ordering takeaway all the time is a sure way to destroy your budget.
While there may be times when eating out is unavoidable, advanced planning can make a huge difference in your saving habits. It can also have a tremendous impact on your health, as homecooked meals are sure to be healthier than fast food or prepackaged meals.
The idea is to spend an hour on the weekend (or whenever you have time) cooking a large batch of food to last through the week. You’ll then divide the food into meal-sized portions and freeze them. Then all you need to do for lunch and/or dinner is pop them in the microwave.
Start by finding some healthy, inexpensive recipes to try. Switch it up or try a few different recipes each week for variety.
It may seem like a strange habit at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it. And the results are worth the effort – you’ll save as much as $2,000 a year!
4. Buy used whenever possible
Whether it’s a home appliance, clothes, or video games, you can save a lot of money by buying used items.
Rather than rushing to the mall every time you need to buy something, get in the habit of looking for something used first. You may find something in excellent condition that costs a fraction of what it would new.
Checking local consignment shops, used sporting goods stores, or your neighborhood Goodwill or Salvation Army. If you prefer to shop online, check Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon (filter to “used” items).
Among the best items to buy used are textbooks, kids’ clothes, furniture, and electronics. You could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run.
5. Turn off the television
How can turning off the television help you save money faster?
For starters, you’ll have less exposure to advertising (and become less likely to make impulse purchases).
Two, you’ll save money on your power bill. If you get in the habit of watching less television, you might consider switching to basic cable (or eliminating cable altogether, which will often save you a lot). You can find almost anything you want to watch on Netflix, YouTube, or similar sites.
Another way this habit helps you save? It frees up more time for you to start up a side business, prepare meals ahead of time, or sift through the junk in your attic (more on that next).
6. Sell everything you don’t use
That pile of clutter in the attic? The mountain of junk in the garage? Don’t let it sit there – make it work for you!
It’s incredible how quickly household items pile up. From outgrown kids’ bikes to that paddleboard you thought you’d love (but never use), you may have a stash of cash buried right under your roof.
Set aside a weekend to go through your garage and other storage spaces. Sift through your closets and dressers and remove any clothes you haven’t worn in the past year. Set aside books, jewelry, sporting goods, and other items you never use anymore.
You could also consider selling your old electronics. You would be surprised how much you can get. If you have an old smartphone you could consider selling it through sites like SellCell for hundreds of dollars.
Your next step? Host a garage sale or place those items for sale on Craigslist or eBay. You’ll be amazed at how much all that old stuff is worth!
Just make sure to avoid the urge to spend the cash when items sell. Remember: your ultimate goal is to save your money (and invest it), not spend it.
Creative ways to save money: Now you know
So, which of these creative ways to save money will you try first?
Like anything else in life, saving money is simply a matter of forming good habits – and breaking bad ones.
Put these tips into practice in your daily life, and you’ll see your savings account grow in no time!
Want even more tips on how to start saving money today? Click here to read one of my previous posts with a few other ideas.