Last week, we looked at ways to save more money by trying to force ourselves out of the disposable mindset we live in. We toss everything–paper towels, gadgets, electronics, clothes, and just buy more, and we all take a hit from it, especially in our wallets. It’s a small change, but it’s sometimes small changes can make all the difference. And just as it’s the little purchases that add up to big spending, it’s also the little sacrifices that can add up to a big savings.
Here are some more little things you can do.
THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Don’t buy lunch all the time
Yes, it is the little things that count. For instance, if you buy lunch five times a day, that can slam you for upwards of $200 or more a month. That’s, like, two bill payments right there.
It’s true that work lunches are often an excellent time to connect with co-workers, and you don’t want to cut that out completely. But bringing your own lunch a few days of the week can significantly help you in the savings department.
Maintain your vehicle
Grand Money Matters’s Sam Baker brings up a good idea: regularly maintain your car, or your bicycle, or motorcycle, or whatever vehicle you have.
“Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. And use the grade of fuel that the owner’s manual recommends. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.”
Know what to buy from grocery stores and don’t deviate from your budget
As you probably know, grocery stores are designed to get you to impulse buy. They’re set up so the necessary items (milk, eggs, bread, meat, etc.) are on the opposite side of the entrance, so you have to pass all the colourful goodies on the way. You can easily rack up a big grocery bill by dumping things into your cart as you pass them. Baker recommends keeping a list of what you want, and going straight for them. Get in, get out, and you’re set.
Ride your bike more
No, look, I know. Sometimes this is something you can’t do. It’s much cheaper to live in the wasteland of, say, Ajax, and just commute into the city for work. And as a permanent commuting option, especially in Canada, a bicycle just isn’t an option.
But if you can commute on your bicycle occasionally, it’s a good idea. You save on gas, parking, and you get in some good exercise.
They say twenty minutes of aerobic activity is the threshold for when you actually start burning the calories that matter, so if you live within a twenty-five minute bike ride to your work, that’s a good fifth of your commute that you’re getting slimmer and healthier. And, of course, you’re helping the environment.
Force yourself to wait on making a purchase
Retail therapy is a powerful drug. The act of purchasing new things gets our brain to soak itself in dopamine and make us feel tingly and happy. That’s why we often own a lot of movies we haven’t seen, and clothes we don’t wear. It’s why we collect things, and justify them to ourselves as collections. We buy things for their irony value and then let them collect dust in the corner.
I don’t want to tell you to not buy things, especially if it’s things like clothes, books, movies, art and music. Other How To Save Money articles will urge you to borrow from the library and listen to the radio more, but, come on, artists have to eat too. But there should be some discipline.
Parentables’ Britt Reints recommends imposing a waiting time before you purchase. If you find something in a store that you have to have, give yourself some time to mull it over. After a while, you may find that the I want it chemicals in your brain have receded, and you realize you can live without that swan statuary or the novelty clock.
I usually give myself about a day, which is enough for me, but Reints suggests a whole month (yikes!). I guess the trick is to come up with a time that works for you.
Pay your bills on time
Here’s something terrifying–a single missed payment on those student loans or credit card could cause a significant drop in your credit rating, which can lead to increased interest and problems later on.
You should already be devoting a relatively good chunk of your net to closing the books on that debt, but until you do, it’s a really good idea to make sure to pay them on time.
We all have to make payments every month–but we can cut down on our spending, and in doing so, make us richer.