Hey there friends,
There are plenty of reasons to save money: Saving for a rainy day, for a downpayment, for this year´s holiday, for the new Porsche 911 Carrera S, your kid´s education, preparing your financial independence, you name it. Having a clear savings goal is essential and it will help you to achieve it easier.
Saving money can seem like a rather dull, slow and difficult way to improve your finances in the short term and requires strong willpower to keep going over long periods of time. If you read this, you have probably already seen an abundance of saving tips on the internet ranging from horrible to ridiculous with luckily some sensible ones in between. Think of cutting back on your daily coffee cup, flushing only once a week, putting your credit card in a glass of water in the freezer, date a bartender to get free drinks, hacking your neighbor´s Wifi, moving back to your parents´basement, learning to cook and stop ordering food, extreme couponing, unplugging everything when leaving the house, not ordering wine at restaurants because it is overpriced anyway,…
How do these tips sound to you? Exciting? Fun? Easy?
While the learning to cook tip sounds sensible to me, I do not feel excited to save money by following the other tips. But does it have to be that way? Do you need to deprive yourself of every little indulgence and reduce your lifestyle dramatically in order to save some of that hard-earned cash?
The good news is no, it does not have to be that way: You do not have to live like a pauper, steal your neighbour´s wifi or cut back on your daily latte to start making substantial savings. There are easier ways to save a sizeable amount of money while making minimal to no changes to your current lifestyle. And this is the way I like to do it best: Saving money effortlessly or “mindlessly”.
In order to help you stash some cash towards your goals, I brainstormed together with a few new blogger friends on 20 effortless ways we use ourselves to save that extra dinero. Here they are!
1. Automate your savings. My first tip is to “pay yourself first” by automating your savings. Telling your money where to go as soon as you get your paycheck is one of the most efficient ways to start building a savings pot. I´d recommend you put a portion of your paycheck each month towards a savings/investing account. This is probably my favourite “financial hack” because you never see the money you are putting aside and you cannot miss what you have not seen. You can read more about it in this previous article.
2. Use Micro-Savings. I have used this when living in Norway (have not seen that option in France, Belgium nor Luxembourg yet). If your bank allows for it, automate so-called “micro-savings”. Let me explain: When shopping and using your bank card, the amount will be rounded up and the rounded-up part will go to a savings account automatically. If an item costs 99,6 Eur, 99.6 Eur goes to the shop and 0.4 Eur goes to your micro-savings pot. I have used this to save money for a Sonos speaker and although it took almost a year, the big purchase felt painless to my finances.
3. Plan your grocery shopping: I do not know about you but I find grocery shopping a pain and a waste of time, never the less I still need lemons, wine and some Feta cheese (hmmm cheeeeeese). I have my standard grocery shopping list saved in Evernote (register here and get a free month of Evernote Premium) and update it based on specific needs of the moment. Having a list on paper or on your phone will help you focus only on what you need, save you time and money at the store and will avoid an extra trip because you forgot the tomatoes.
4. Talking about groceries: Eat them. How difficult is that for a saving tip? The thing here is to avoid throwing food away (which is equal to throwing money away). Try to find out why some food is not eaten on time and try to prevent it. Was the food hidden in the cupboard? Did no one like those Brussels sprouts? Another one is to meal prep (which requires a little more effort at first, I’ll give you that).
5. Reduce alcohol consumption. As a Belgian, I like my beers and with a decent lunch, I can appreciate a nicely paired glass of wine as well. Never the less keeping alcohol consumption low or for certain occasions only will do good for both your health and your wallet. Especially when dining out.
6. Talking about ordering wine at the restaurant. You can just skip it and save heaps but part of the experience of going to a restaurant is also to discover new tastes (and thus new wines). So, if you are gonna go for it, be a savvy customer and feel confident to buy the cheapest bottle. Restaurants and sommeliers already know you do not want to look cheap and they expect you to order the second or third-lowest bottle. This is what Mark Oldman writes about in his book: “How to drink like a Billionaire“. Let’s be honest, who has not been tricked into this? (I have at least)
7. Ditch your daily latte from the coffee shop: What? Getting rid of my daily cup of joe, are you kidding? I NEED MY COFFEE from the Deli around the corner! I get it, you need your coffee in the morning, this is your guilty pleasure, you cannot function properly without it, etc. I like my delicious coffee in the morning too. Do not worry, you can still have it and save money at the same time. One way to save money while still getting your daily dose of caffeine is to purchase a good quality bean-to-cup machine and to take your delicious coffee wherever you want. I have this exact same one which costs about 300 euros and 1 kg of Lavazza coffee beans (111 cups) costs me about 15 euros. If you are a daily drinker you will start saving money effortlessly as soon as 3 months after you bought your machine.
8. Declutter: Limiting your possessions is a great way to save both time and money as well. You do not have to go total minimalistic style with 2 books on your shelf only, but in general the less stuff you keep, the less you have to clean, maintain and/or repair. While you go through the process of decluttering you can sell some of the stuff or make someone happy by giving it away. This is one of my favourite ways as well.
9. Learn to cook. Eating out is great: You save time, there are no dishes to wash, you make new discoveries, the location can be convenient for meeting your friends…never the less all this fun and convenience comes with a price tag. Don´t get me wrong, I love trying out new places as well (especially since I moved recently to a new city). The point is to replace some of those dinners out by some dinners in. If you usually go several times a week to a restaurant, you can easily reduce the frequency to once or twice a week instead. You can learn to cook new dishes for each time you do not go to the restaurant and since you save money, you can have an extra scoop of chocolate ice cream!
10. Here is a tip from Virginia from Happy Healthy Abundance that I have used myself as well. Cash in your credit card reward points and put that cash towards your credit card balance, debt, bank account,…Some credit cards will give you the option to choose for a gift card instead. Virginia recommends to use it at places you already shop for groceries or other necessities (and I fully agree to that approach). You could also use that gift card for that totally needed inflatable Flamingo (What´s up with that, seriously?), but then it kind of defeats the purpose of saving money, right? Credit cards if used well can turn into allies instead of foes. Use them wisely and save money.
11. I liked this one from Virginia as well (taken straight from her blog post): Eat before you head out to meet friends. This quick savings tip will help you spend less at the bar or restaurant. Reducing your spending in going out does not mean you can´t see your friends. You can still spend quality time with your friends in lower-cost settings such as pot-luck dinners, in-home parties (and these are often the best parties), etc. As Virginia rightfully mentions, your friends might not always have that extra money available for fancy dinners neither. The truth is, no one is talking about it.
12. Time your purchases: If there is no urgency, just buy items when you know they will be on sale. Buy clothes during the sales, buy winter gear after the ski season, buy presents for your friends´upcoming birthdays during Black Friday,…
13. Ask for it/Negotiate. Okay, this one is not so effortless if you are not comfortable with negotiating, but there is no reason not to try because it can work. Do not be afraid to ask for a little extra service or a price discount if you are buying several articles at the same time (clothing, house appliances,..). Sometimes just asking: “Any sales coming up soon for this jacket?” might get you a little discount if the salesperson is keen to make a sale that day. Ramit Sethi has some excellent telephone scripts for reducing your bank fees in his best-selling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. This will yield even better results on bigger ticket items such as a car, a mortgage, your salary, etc. I actually helped a friend get a 2% discount on a car purchase last week, it took no more than 2 minutes and he made a decent saving.
14. Get rid of expensive habits: As Sa El, Co-Founder of Simply Insurance, pointed out to me smoking is one. It costs on average $2,000 per year to keep up this bad habit and it increases your life insurance premiums by almost 60%. You’ll also save on long-term health costs.
15. Use company deals Your employer may actually offer useful discounts, make sure you check the intranet or ask the relevant colleagues. I have had the chance to benefit from cheaper gym memberships, deals at hotels, reduced prices on cinema tickets, when I worked in Paris the company was reimbursing the public transport pass,…
16. Here is a quick tip from Sharon from Digital Nomad Quest: Review your monthly recurring bills and see what’s a need and what’s a desire. Start cutting out the monthly bills you don’t need. Instead of watching Netflix, read a book. Instead of working out at the local gym, do at-home workouts! There are many ways to cut out those expenses and increase your savings.
17. Drink water from the tap or use a filter pitcher, you will save money on bottled water and reduce plastic waste at the same time.
18. Purchase second hand: A quick search on Marketplace or your local second-hand website can help you save tremendously on that couch or PlayStation game. I got plenty of friends that found great deals on well-maintained second-hand furniture in Norway and Luxembourg for example.
19. Unsubscribe from merchant newsletters: This will declutter your inbox and reduce the temptation to buy. If you do not see the latest “just for you” offers from your local department store, you will not be tempted to impulse buy these goods. And voila, you just “saved” 200 euros on those sneakers you did not see!
20. Borrow instead of buying: Think of movies, videogames, books, tools you will use for a specific repair at home, these are typical items you might only use once or for a limited time. So borrow them from a friend or neighbour if you can.
21. BONUS: Here is an extra tip from Sharon for those living in the US or Canada: One easy way to save money is to get the Ebates chrome extension. Whenever you make purchases online, you can get cashback from Ebates and save money easily! This is a great tip but it is unfortunately not open to us Europeans (sad face). However, If you know of any similar hack, please let us know in the comments!
Small changes, great results
As you can see saving some extra money does not have to be that hard. I hope that these tips will be helpful to you and that you will be able to build up a nice chunk of money towards your savings goals.
If I had to summarize this article in one sentence, it would be this: Make small changes to your spending habits and achieve great results!
Have you tried any of the tips above? What are your effortless ways to save money? Let me know in the comments below and of course share with a friend that could use those tips!
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