Managing money gets stressful. Whether you’re starting out in the world with newfound adult responsibility or you just want to shore up your finances, here are a few tried-and-true tips to help you manage your money and keep more green in your wallet.
1. Make a budget: You’ll make better choices if you plan your spending ahead of time. If you know going into the month that your car needs an oil change, you’re more likely to head off snap decisions — like pricey items you’ll regret buying later.
2. Have an emergency fund: One outcome from making a budget is reducing your spending on impulse items. A good place to start is to accumulate $1,000 in savings, so you can easily cover many kinds of unexpected costs while avoiding the double whammy of credit card fees. An easy way to get started is with each payday, automate a transfer to your savings account so you don’t have to think about it!
3. Always be in the know: Download your bank’s app to your smartphone and make it a habit to check the balance, along with any purchases, each and every day. You’ll make wiser, more well-informed spending decisions and possibly even catch unusual activity on your account.
4. Cut back on dining out: Break the drive-through habit and keep your kitchen well stocked with staples, such as sandwich fixings, canned soups and frozen chicken strips, so it’s always easy to grab a quick meal.
5. Dine out mindfully: We get it. Always saying no to takeout can be extremely hazardous to your social life. Be on the lookout for coupons and online discounts to help you save. Ordering water instead of coffee, cola and booze will save you a bundle on money as well as empty calories in the long run. For better value, opt for entrees that reheat well, and always bring home leftovers for a second meal.
6. Live under a cash-only policy: Setting out with a finite amount in your hand is a sure method to restrain spending. Otherwise, the open-ended nature of credit cards makes it all too easy to talk yourself into buying something you don’t need.
7. Try pre-paid electricity: With First Choice Power’s Power-to-Go Free Weekends, you can avoid paying the pricey deposit and you get electricity for free all weekend long. Just pay in advance and with our handy app, we’ll keep you in the know so you can replenish your account when you need to.
8. Automate your staples: When it’s time to replenish your supplies, try an online service that makes reordering easy. You’ll not only save yourself a trip, you can avoid temptation at the store.
9. Get discounts on your meds: Membership warehouses are known for their low prices for prescription drugs. Unlike with other merchandise, everyone has access to the pharmacy counter, so you can take advantage even without a membership.
10. Save energy: Even if you live in a rental, there are steps you can take to make sure you keep energy waste to a minimum. Break out the power strips so you can easily cut off power to certain electronics that still consume power even when they’re off, such as coffee makers, televisions and stereos. Draw your shades and blinds during the day to block the heat of the sun (and give your air conditioner a break). Finally, check your windows and doors for gaps and cracks and have these fixed, so your cooled-off air isn’t leaked to the outdoors.
12. Host a swap party: If your wardrobe needs a refresh, invite the gang (and their friends) over to your place for potluck snacks and trade your old jeans, tops and shoes for something that’s new to you. Don’t limit it to clothing — include jewelry and gently used cosmetics. (We all have that lipstick shade we tried exactly once, right?)
11. Get rebated: Get cash back for certain grocery purchases. All you have to do is download your receipt to a rebate app and when you accumulate a certain amount, they’ll cut you a check.
13. Use the library: You can find plenty of free entertainment at your local library. Sometimes, you can download books right to your e-reader without leaving the house. Libraries are also becoming more like community centers, so it’s not uncommon to find activities and workshops for kids and adults.
Managing your money may seem like a chore, but with a little effort and creativity, you can reap dividends in the future.