I haven’t always had great money habits. I wanted more of it, but abused the hell out of it. It took me years to form a happy relationship with money. One that wasn’t built around anxiety but around respect.
Part of building this new relationship was learning to embrace budgeting, something I’d always hated. The more I budgeted the more I enjoyed it. Saving a bit more every week became a challenge and doing the same old things like taking lunch to work started to get boring.
So I got more creative with saving money
Here are some weird ways I saved:
1) Time grocery shopping trips
I literally timed myself and most times, it would take me about 10 minutes to get to the checkout counter. This isn’t about speed shopping, it was a challenge to get myself organized. If I went to the grocery store knowing exactly what I needed, I was less likely to buy things I didn’t need and spend more money. Because I knew where everything was at my favorite supermarket, there was no need to wonder around. I could literally shop with my eyes closed.
2) Shop at ethnic grocery stores
Ethnic grocery stores are often smaller than the big chains and offer great stuff much cheaper. You won’t save much if you’re buying packaged goods, but they’re my number one pick for fruits, veggies and even meats.
3) Go to the dentist often
Routine cleanings don’t cost much, it’s those darn root canals and dental surgeries that put a huge dent on your wallet. Going to the dentist often means that you catch any problems sooner… before they become more expensive.
4) Stay away from extreme weight fluctuations
Gaining or losing an incredible amount of weight means you’ll need a new wardrobe, which means lots and lots of money! Obviously this advice isn’t ideal of you’re severely underweight or overweight, because health comes first. But if you’re already at a comfortable weight, the key is to stay there or gradually gain or lose weight.
5) De-clutter your home
This one was a big one for me! Although I thought I lived a clutter-free life, I had secret drawers so full that I could barely open them. Once I de-cluttered I found a lot of duplicates – 8 pairs of scissors because I could never find one when I needed it. This is especially helpful in the kitchen. Decluttering pantries means you can use what you have before you shop for new items.
6) Meet your friends for a walk
One of my biggest expenses was going out to dinners with friends. It’s easy to go to high-end restaurants on a regular basis, charge meals and forget about them. It’s also the easiest way to wrack up debt. Instead of constantly meeting friends for dinners, see them for walks or coffee.
7) Try not to touch escalator handles
I’m not suggesting you develop OCD. There are tons of germs on escalator and door handles. Germs that cause you to be sick with a cold or flu. This means you could end up out of commission for a week if not more. If you’re self-employed it’s even more important that you do what you can to ensure you don’t get sick. Time is money and the more time you’re sick in bed, that’s money lost.
This goes along with not touching handles or at least washing your hands often. Resting and rejuvenating yourself is important, because stress costs money. As an economics major, I always think about opportunity cost. When you’re stressed out, you’re less productive. When you’re less productive, you often make less money.
9) Shop, shop, shop
I’m not a big fan of shows like Extreme Couponing . I think they’re wasteful and can’t imagine how you’d get through 80 boxes of cereal before they expire. It only makes sense if you’re giving them away. Instead, when I see a sale on items I know I’ll need like shampoo, tissue paper and toothpaste, I stock up. My favorite toothpaste, which normally costs about $3 was on sale for $1 last week, I bought enough to last me a few months.
10) Be Honest or stay away from high rollers
It’s not enough to simply live within your means. You have to change your lifestyle. For me, it meant that I had to be honest with high rolling friends about my new budgeting attempts or avoid those situations where I’d end up spending too much money I hadn’t planned to spend.
11) Making baking soda, vinegar and shampoo your best friends
I was a huge money waster when it came to cleaning products. Not only was wasting money, I was inhaling that crap too. I now clean with baking soda – the best thing ever! I’ve learned a lot from this girl. I also have a confession to make – I clean my shower with cheap shampoo. My huge shampoo bottles I buy on sale serve a dual purpose Most of all, I clean the shower while I’m in there (quick and easy). I’ve learned creative ways to use some of these products as beauty staples as well.