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It’s probably the second biggest factor – after health issues – to cause stress, worries and negativity within.
It has certainly been that for me during long periods.
So this year I will from time to time write about dealing with financial stress.
Not only because it can cause so much negativity. But also because healthier and more conscious money habits can help you to achieve many positive things in your life.
For example, saving more money and doing it regularly each month will also allow you to put money into or towards your own goals such as:
- Paying off debt.
- Saving for a dream vacation.
- Building your emergency fund.
- Consciously spending less money on things that may honestly not matter that much to you. And spend more of that saved money on the things or experiences that do truly matter to you and the people in your life.
So today I want to share 54 tips that have helped me to handle my own personal finances more consciously, save money and reduce my worries in this area of life.
Everything from going over last's months spending and getting one quick win, downgrading your phone to starting a blog to earn a bit extra that you can save.
Pick a couple of the ones here that resonate with you. Or one or a few you think you can take care of today to get one or a couple of quick wins in.
And then get to work to get them done.
I’ll start with a few of my personal favorite fundamental tips and then the rest of the article is divided into a few different sections to make it easier to navigate.
1. Ask yourself: Do I really need this? (And then create a reminder)
The simplest way to save more money is, in my experience, to buy fewer things, especially on impulse.
So, before making a purchase ask yourself the question above.
Then make it into a reminder so you actually ask yourself this as often as possible before buying something.
Put the question on a small post-it note and put that note on your debit / credit card. Then you’ll see it every time when you’re about to pull your card out of your wallet to pay for something.
And add this to your note too if you like:
“Wait for 24 hours. Then buy this item if I still want it.”
I’ve found that this second line on the note often helps because impulses are fleeting.
2. Go through last month’s spending and find one quick win.
Ask yourself: where is my money really going?
Then go over your bank account for last month by using the app your bank provides – that’s what I use to get a quick overview – or your receipts.
Taking a couple of minutes to do this can quickly help you to spot trends in your spending and expenses and give you a real insight into where your money is going.
Then go for one quick win and take action to reduce or eliminate one of those expenses. Some common things you may want to pick your quick win from are for example:
- The cable bill.
- Online streaming services like Netflix.
- Magazine subscriptions.
- Too many expensive cups of coffee.
- Too many beers down at the local pub.
- The latest electronic things like brand new video games, phones etc.
- Shopping for clothes.
- Expensive workout memberships.
- Other memberships you honestly rarely use but that keep charging you a monthly fee.
This can be a quick and effective way to both reduce economic worries and to easily save a bit more money each month.
3. Create a simple 50/30/20 budget.
The previous exercise can help you to find money leaks and plug them for quick wins.
It can also help you to see where you money is going each month and how you’d like to change some things around. For example to reduce eating out so you can save more money for your next vacation trip or pay off your student loans faster.
A budget can also add more clarity into your financial situation, help you find additional quick wins and to stick to your financial goals not just when you feel inspired or pressured to but each and every month.
How do you create a budget?
One of the simplest ways is to do a 50/30/20 budget.
This means that you divide up your budget into three categories and percentages.
50% of your income goes to your needs (paying for the rent or mortgage, grocery shopping etc.), 30% goes to your wants (such as a new coat, take-out food on a Friday or to saving for your summer trip) and 20% will be savings (like for an emergency fund, your retirement or for renovating your house next year).
It’s a balanced way of looking at things, it ensures that you save some money each month and it may be easier to stick to than some other budget formulas as it is not so rigid.
You can for example spend more on clothes one month and on your car the next month and this will still fit within these broad categories.
So this can be a good way to create your first budget. And remember, it is not set in stone, you can readjust and course correct along the way as you learn more things about your financial habits, wants and needs.
4. Pay yourself first.
Paying yourself first is a small but powerful habit to make sure you actually save money on a monthly and consistent basis.
It means that the first thing you do when you get paid at the end of the month is to set aside a small amount of money in another account of yours at your bank.
It doesn’t have to be much at all. If you cannot save 20% at this time, as mentioned in the budget exercise above, then go for maybe just 3-5% of your salary.
You can start small and then as a few months go by you may increase the amount a little bit as you now see that it’s no biggie and has a small impact on your day to day life.
Paying yourself first is based on the same thinking as doing the most important task first thing in your day. Otherwise it can easily be forgotten, neglected or buried under other less important tasks/other perhaps unnecessary spending.
Doing this can help you to more easily start building an emergency fund, save for a bigger purchase for your home or set aside money for your vacation. You can also apply the paying yourself first idea to investing in your retirement in some way (for example into a pension fund).
5. Automate what you can.
The easiest way to make sure you pay yourself first and that the money you get each month goes to the right things is to automate what you can.
This can help you to reduce impulse spending and to not forget to pay all of your bills. And it will save you time.
A few payments you can often automate via your bank are for example your:
- Retirement savings.
- Credit card payments.
- Car payments.
Groceries and other shopping
6. Use money saving membership cards and apps when you shop for groceries.
We use our local supermarket chain’s membership and app.
By doing so we get plenty of special offers on groceries. And we collect points each week that can be converted into money that we can use for groceries or other perks (like discounts on hotels).
This saves us a quite a bit of money each year with just a couple of minutes of work per week.
7. Ask yourself this once in a while before shopping: do I have any unused coupons or gift cards I can use?
If you’re anything like me you’ve probably gotten a gift card or received points that have been converted into a bonus check.
And then forgotten all about it. And so it has expired before you remember that you had it.
So a couple of times a year or maybe once a month before you go shopping, ask yourself the question above so you don’t miss out on any savings.
8. Cook more than you’ll eat (and easily make an extra lunch or two).
Eating out can become a big monthly cost if you let it get out of hand.
When my wife and I make dinner we usually make at least a couple of portions for lunch the next day.
And once a week or so we makes 6-10 portions of food and put the meals that won’t be lunch the next day into our freezer.
This saves us time and we’ll be less tempted to order a couple of pizzas after a long and tiring work day for example.
And if there’s half a portion extra then that can go into the fridge and be a snack for later today or tomorrow.
9. Make your coffee at home too.
Just like eating out, drinking coffee from for instance Starbucks every day can become quite expensive over time.
So invest in a good travel mug and then brew some extra coffee in the morning to save money and not waste time standing in line at your local coffee place every day.
10. Go grocery shopping once a week.
We tend to write a meal plan for the coming week and then we go grocery shopping most often just once a week based on that.
This saves us time, gas and as we aren’t at the store more than once – or maybe twice to pick something we forgot or as plans changed – a week there is a lot less opportunities for impulse spending compared to if we’d go there 3-7 times a week (as I often did when I was single).
11. Check your fridge, freezer and pantry before you go shopping and plan your weekly cooking based on that.
This is a pretty big one for us and helps us to cut down on the shopping list before we go to the store.
It saves us money and reduces food waste compared to the weeks when we just buy the food we have a craving for as we’re writing our shopping list.
12. Buy store brand products.
I was pretty skeptical about this a couple of years ago.
But I’ve found that the store brand if often as good as the more well-known brands and they tend to cost a bit less.
13. Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry.
I’ve made this mistake too many times. And I came home with all kinds of unnecessary and often unhealthy food I didn’t originally plan to buy.
14. When there's a special offer buy more of what you use often.
For example, stuff that stores well like soap, toilet-paper or frozen vegetables and salmon. Keeping an eye out for offers like this on most weeks helps us to save quite a bit of money over a year.
15. Check the expiring soon section if you got one at your local super market.
We always take a quick look and often pick up some food item at half price because it expires in a couple of days. It’s simple way to both save a bit of money and help to reduce the food waste in society.
Create a side income you can save
One of the best ways to be able to save more is to increase your income a bit.
So that’s what the next couple of tips in this post are about.
16. Start a blog.
I make a full-time living from my blog and have for years. This takes time and plenty of effort.
But making it into a side hustle that brings in anywhere from one or a couple of hundred dollars each month and up to a $1000 is easier and takes less time.
To learn more about that check out my in-depth post with 45 tips about blogging.
Or enroll in my free 7-day email course called How to Start a Successful Blog. In it I explain step-by-step how to easily start your own blog and what the best ways are to make a side income from it (in my experience).
17. Spend a bit of your free time on doing market research surveys.
Starting a blog and creating a monthly side income from it takes some time, effort and few dollars of investment each month.
But there are other ways to more quickly add a bit of extra money to your savings. One way is to participate in market research surveys online.
You won’t get rich from doing this but on the other hand it’s totally free, quick and easy to get started with.
The biggest and most well-known survey site is Survey Junkie. They have over 3 million members and the highest rating on TrustPilot among survey sites with a score of 8,6.
And if you want more tips on how to make some extra money then check out this recent article I wrote.
Second-hand shopping and borrowing
18. Check out local thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales.
This has become really popular in recent years to both save money and help reduce how our production and consumption negatively affects the environment.
And a doing a yard/garage sale of your own can help you to make some extra money from the things you rarely or never use yourself but someone else could make some good use of.
19. Go online to buy or sell previously used items.
Both my wife and I use this option quite often. There are a lot of barely used things out there that you can get at a great discount.
So before you go to your regular online stores, have a look at Ebay (or alternatives in your country) and the many Facebook groups where people sell all kinds of things or sometimes give stuff away for free as long as you come and pick it up.
Plus, you can often find buyers pretty easily online if you have something you've never or rarely used that you want to sell.
20. Switch a bag of clothes with a friend.
Grab a bag and fill it with clothes you’ve been wearing a lot (and maybe some items you didn't like for some reason).
Get a friend who has the same size as you to do the same thing.
Then switch bags and both of you will have “new” clothes to wear. And you’ll feel less of a need to go online or to the store to buy new clothes.
21. Borrow things you seldom use.
If you need something for your garden or home once or a couple of times a year try borrowing it before buying it. Ask friends, family or neighbors.
And return the favor when they need something you have access to.
22. If you don’t use it often and can’t borrow it then consider a cheap option.
We picked up some cheap extra tools when we moved into our house and have only used them once or a couple of times so far.
You can always buy a more expensive option later on if you realize you’ll need it more than you first thought.
23. Use your local library.
I can find books, movies and even video games at my local library. And I usually just read a book once so buying it most often seems like a bit of a waste of paper and money.
Borrowing books and video games (and in the past CDs) from the local libraries where I’ve lived have saved me thousands of dollars over the past 20+ years.
24. Ask for a discount.
If you buy something second-hand then talk to the seller and see if he or she can do something to lower the price a bit. It rarely hurts to at least ask.
Or when you’re buying something new and somewhat expensive at a store then see if they can throw something in for free. Way back when I used to sell computers at a store people quite often haggled and got some free paper for their printer or a cord for their computer.
25. See if there are some old and unused things just lying around at your family home.
After we moved into our house we went on treasure hunts in attics and cellars in the homes of our parents. And found old but nice things they hadn’t used in many years that we could have and that would work well in some area in our home.
Better banking and investing
26. Get a better interest rate for your savings account.
One simple thing to do to help your savings work better in a passive way is to do 20-30 minutes of research on the banks you have available in your country.
And to see if you can find one with a better interest rate.
27. Invest a bit of money.
Another way to help your savings to work for you is to invest some of that money into, for example, index funds.
You can find plenty of sensible advice on such things on sites like Get Rich Slowly.
28. Set up a separate savings account for each of your goals.
Such as retirement, a dream vacation or your emergency fund.
When that money is marked for a destination and a goal then you’re a lot less likely to withdraw and spend that money on impulse purchases or unnecessary things.
This usually only takes a couple of minutes to set up via your internet bank and works a lot better to reduce spending than having all your money in one account and having some vague and unwritten goals about what you are saving that money for.
Things to do in your home
29. Replace your cable subscription with streaming services.
We opted out of a cable subscription with many channels and instead choose to focus on one or two streaming services like Netflix and HBO at a time. This tends to be quite bit cheaper.
30. Change all your bulbs to LED-bulbs.
LED bulbs use less electricity and last up to 25 000 hours (compared to the 5 000 hours of regular bulbs). They are more expensive than regular bulbs though.
But in the long run making this switch should save you some money.
31. Try reducing your home temperature by 1-2 degrees.
Heating your home is – as I've noted after being a house owner for close to two years – usually the biggest part of the electricity bill.
So one thing you could try to shrink that bill a bit is to reduce temperature in your home by 1-2 degrees. Try it out for a few days or a couple of weeks and see if that feels OK.
If it does then that could save you a nice sum over one or a few years.
32. Get a bicycle.
Using a bicycle can help you to both reduce fuel costs and wear and tear on your car. And it will give you plenty of exercise and fresh air.
I use my bicycle for that pretty often during the spring, summer and fall. We are also looking into getting an electric bicycle to make my wife’s commute to work a lot less expensive but also not too strenuous (we got a lot of long hills in our city).
33. Cancel your gym card and work out at home.
I lost 26 pounds 10 years ago by following a home exercise program called Turbulence Training.
And I still work out from home every week by using free weights.
I’d also recommend to check out Youtube, there are so many exercise programs of all sorts there nowadays that you can just follow along with.
34. Split your Spotify or Netflix account with a friend or family member.
Not a huge saving but it can add up over a year or two.
Cars, dating, downgrading and more
In this last category I’ve collected plenty of tips and strategies that didn’t quite fit into the previous sections.
You’ll help the environment while cutting down on your costs. And the ride to work may more enjoyable too when you got some company.
36. Look for cheaper gas.
Take a bit of time to ask around and/or do a bit of internet research to find the cheapest gas station in your local area.
You may also want to look into if the membership club for your car brand or the membership club for the grocery chain you use work together with a local gas station. This can help you to reduce your costs even further.
37. Try online dating to reduce cover charges.
Going out a lot to improve your dating situation can be quite expensive as cover charges and drinks or beers at clubs or pubs can quickly add up.
A less expensive alternative to try could be online dating (and then as a first date a cup of coffee or tea at a coffee shop). Some dating sites have monthly fees while others tend to be free (or they at least let you try them out for free for a few weeks or a month).
38. Make it a competition.
Do you like to compete?
Then do a simple savings challenge it with a friend or your partner.
See who can go the longest without buying something (besides food and necessary things in your daily life). The loser can buy dinner for the both of you.
39. Make allowance a thing again.
Use the same limit your parents used to use when you were a kid.
Give yourself a weekly allowance to spend as you like to reduce the craving for frivolous spending and impulse purchases.
40. Downgrade your phone.
Sell your iPhone, buy a basic flip-phone for calling and texting and then sign up for a cheap cell plan.
41. Stop buying the latest phone, laptop etc.
When I buy a new smart phone then it's a phone that's one or two generations old.
By not buying the latest model I save plenty of money but still get a phone that easily covers my needs.
42. Unsubscribe from email newsletters that will tempt you.
Get rid of newsletter subscriptions that you know will just tempt you to buy things you don’t really need or want.
It’ll save you time as you navigate your inbox and reduce the opportunities to do impulse purchases.
And consider unfollowing accounts that tempt you too much in your social media flow.
43. Compare prices on insurances, cell phone plans and other bills.
Do some internet research and see if you can find a cheaper insurance plan for your car or home that offers the same benefits or the most important ones you need for a lower price than what you’re currently paying.
This of course works for cell phone plans and many other bills too.
44. Negotiate your bills.
Do your research as mentioned in the previous tip. Then call up your cell phone company or insurance company.
Simply tell them that you have found what they offer at a cheaper rate at a competitor and ask what they can do on your price because otherwise you’re leaving.
As they want to keep their customers for many, many years they may be able to lower your price. Or offer you more benefits for the price you’re paying right now.
45. Compare prices on all other larger purchases too.
You can do that by using simple price comparison websites. This one has saved me quite a bit of money in the past decade on clothes, perfume, home electronics and more.
46. Stop smoking.
More for the health issues it can lead to but also to save a lot of money each year.
47. Got a raise? Then avoid this common mistake.
Save as much of it as you can and, if possible, keep living pretty much like you have.
Instead of making the very common mistake of letting your expenses quickly balloon and eat up all that extra money each month.
48. Start a garden and grow some of your own produce.
We did this last summer and had tomatoes and cucumbers for the whole summer and potatoes and carrots far into the fall. And we still got plenty of dill and parsley in the freezer.
This not only saves money. It also almost always tastes a lot better that the store bought veggies and fruit.
49. Always keep healthy and inexpensive snacks at home and at work.
Stuff like vegetables and fruit.
Then you’ll be less tempted to pop down on an impulse to the store close by or the vending machine for a chocolate bar or some chips when you start to feel a bit hungry.
50. Try cutting your hobby spending in half for the next 30 days.
And see how that works out for you.
Is there a big difference or can you live with this reduced spending?
Or you can take a less drastic route and reduce it by 25% during the next month.
51. Get an accountability partner.
Getting a partner that has the same goal as you is a great help to stay on track towards your goals even after the initial enthusiasm has started to fade.
So find a friend or family member that wants to achieve the same saving goals as you or at least similar goals of getting better at saving money and help each other out.
52. Become more conscious of your spending triggers.
Do you buy junk food after an especially stressful day?
Shop stuff you don’t need on Amazon when you feel bored?
Identify what triggers spending that you may regret later on. And then say stop to yourself the next time when you realize that you’re in a situation that usually tempts you to shop.
The impulse will pass and you can just sit still and wait it out. You don’t have to take action on it.
Or you can replace that spending habit by, for example, going for a walk and getting some fresh air or having a healthy snack when you feel that the impulse to shop has been triggered within.
53. Give away something you've made.
Like a pair of mittens, dried fruit, mushrooms or jerky. It’s less expensive than something from the store and is often more appreciated than something you bought.
54. Don’t buy the cheapest option.
If you buy a bit more expensive shoes, clothes etc. then they'll often stay in good shape for more years than a cheap option.
And so the yearly cost of, for instance, those shoes is often smaller than the yearly cost of a less expensive brand of shoes.