We all have those times when life puts the big squeeze on us and we end up needing some extra cash to see us through.
Unexpected expenses have a way of rearing their ugly heads at the worst times. Even if you’re a master saver and feel there’s no more penny pinching your budget can take, sometimes a pair of fresh eyes can spot just one more way to save.
I personally don’t make a lot of money each year. It’s enough to live on and pay off my loan payments each month, but it can be tricky to find places where I can cut back and save.
When you first sit down and look at your spending, everything can seem at least kind of necessary. Otherwise you wouldn’t be spending your money on it, right?
But there’s a trick to cutting those expenses down and skyrocketing your savings up.
Redefine necessary and watch your costs melt.
How? Ask yourself if what you’re spending money on is either keeping you alive or making your life significantly better.
If the answer to both questions is yes, you can probably keep that expense. If the answer to one or both is no, it’s time for that cost to hit the road.
Here are a few ideas to help you save money in a pinch!
1. Lose the Credit Card
Put away your credit card and start using your debit card.
The limit on a credit card (and the interest) can be very high and it might encourage you to overspend. With a debit card, what’s in the bank is all you’ve got to work with.
2. Take a Walk
Cars are crazy expensive! Even paid-for cars, and even cars with great gas mileage.
Between the base costs of the vehicle itself, gas, insurance, repairs and maintenance, cars add up to astonishingly high costs really fast. Do yourself a favor and work more walking, biking, or even carpooling into your budget.
Save your car the wear and tear of daily use, and you’ll need fewer repairs and less gas. You may even get an insurance break for being a light or safe driver!
3. Empty Your Freezer and Pantry
Avoid the grocery store for one whole week and live off of what’s in your cabinets.
I know I have tons of frozen veggies, soups, pasta, lentils, rice, and canned food. Yet at least 1,000 times a week I say, “There’s nothing to eat!”
Food is always a huge expense for people because hey, we gotta eat! Shop your own pantry for a week and save that grocery money. Make some space in your home and get creative in the kitchen!
4. Find Entertainment at Home
Snuggle up with that book you’ve been meaning to finish, watch a favorite old DVD, or play a round of solitaire. Entertainment doesn’t have to mean a movie theater or a crowded bar. You can invite friends over or cherish some alone time. Just as long as it doesn’t require any cash!
5. Drink More Water
In the US, we are pretty water averse. Americans guzzle soda, juice, and sports drinks. 1 in 4 people in the US drink 200 calories a day through soft drinks.
Not only is that pretty bad for your health, but it’s pretty expensive, too. Drink your tap water or invest in a water filter and treat your body and your wallet better.
6. Air Dry Your Clothes
Electricity is a huge money pit. Of course we need it, but taking every chance to cut that bill is a smart move.
In the warmer months, air dry your clothes outside if you can. Line dry them in your basement, office, or living room if you don’t have a backyard. It won’t take too much extra time – listen to a podcast or some music!
7. Stop Drinking Alcohol
Okay, at least stop buying drinks at bars! Cocktails in some parts of this country will run you $15-$20 a pop. That’s ridiculous! Even a more moderately priced drink of $10 is still a lot. Buy a bottle of liquor and enjoy your beverages at home.
8. Finish a Home Project
Remember that time you thought you’d take up carpentry or knitting? Get back to that!
Finishing a home project, like decorating or home improvement, is a wonderful and fulfilling way to save some dollars, improve your surroundings, and feel a sense of accomplishment!
(Plus, if you shop at Home Depot through our portal, you’ll get up to 5% cash back!)
Writing is good for the soul! Whether you want to keep track of your daily life, try your hand at fiction, or expound on the idea of time travel, journaling is a great frugal activity.
I’ve kept a journal for most of my life. Not only does it help me work through times of strife and help me celebrate times of joy, but I like to look back at the journals I’ve written over the years and remember who I used to be. It’s a free trip down memory lane!
10. Trade Goods for Services
If you have a skill and want to trade it for something like a new pair of shoes, you can do it! There are websites where people trade things like an hour of cooking lessons for an hour of Spanish lessons, or a pair of glasses for help with college applications.
Put your skills to work for you and keep some money in your bank account!
What are your best tips to save money in a pinch?