Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to get to the end of the month and check your savings account and see a fat stack of dollars instead of a tiny pile of pennies? Unfortunately, more often than not, life gets in the way.
Just as you thought you’d finally saved something, an emergency expense crops up that you need to cover, or you’re due a big purchase like a vacation or a new car. Fortunately, saving money doesn’t have to mean cutting out everything you enjoy in life — it’s just about being smart with your money. That’s why we’re focusing on smart ways to save.
1. Lower your utility bills
Many mainstream media outlets would have us believe that the fastest way to save money is to stop buying lattes and avocado toast. In reality, it’s often the large, fixed expenses that we pay every month to worry about — not the discretionary purchases.
One of the biggies here is utility bills like electricity, gas, and internet service. It’s a commonly known fact that many companies offer great deals to new customers who switch to their services — yet most people don’t want to go through the hassle of switching.
But did you know that you can often get a better deal without changing your service provider? All you may need to do is threaten to cancel.
Calling up your current provider and telling that you found a better deal elsewhere is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many utility providers. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that being rude to the customer service representative will help you to get your way! It’s best to be firm yet polite.
2. Reduce your cell phone bill
It’s not just your utility bills that you might be able to decrease each month — you also have a good shot at cutting down how much you spend on your phone. If you’re currently locked into a contract, threatening to cancel your plan unfortunately isn’t a viable option; otherwise, you’re in luck.
Far too many people end up on a phone plan that’s far more expensive and far-reaching than their needs really require. If you’re currently with a mainstream network, chances are that you can find a more affordable phone plan.
We recommend turning to one of the specialist low-cost carriers that have emerged in recent years, such as Twigby or BoostMobile. If all you need is a few gigabytes of data per month, you should easily find a contract for $30 a month — or even less.
3. Cancel your subscriptions
Do you track your monthly spending on a budgeting app or a spreadsheet? If the answer is no, there’s a high chance you’re paying for services you don’t need or even use.
Many of us sign up for an audiobook subscription, meditation app, or entertainment streaming site on a whim, don’t use it, and then forget we even signed up in the first place. To make matters worse, the prospect of checking your monthly subscriptions and having a nasty surprise can be enough to make some people put off checking for as long as possible. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Maybe so, but bliss won’t make you wealthy. Sit down and check your monthly outgoings on each account. Are you paying for any services you don’t benefit from? If so, cancel them.
4. Take advantage of freebies
Just because an item is essential, it doesn’t mean you have to spend money on it. How come, you ask? In many cases, you can get them for free instead.
Head to Facebook marketplace or a site like Nextdoor and you’ll find tons of people just dying to get rid of their furniture, clothes, and who knows what else — to the point where they’re willing to give them away to strangers.
You might also be able to take advantage of free gifts that companies give out to customers on their birthday, 100% cashback offers, or even engaging in barter with friends and family.
It might not be feasible to refrain from spending completely, but once you get the freebies bug, anything is possible.
5. Get a side hustle
When we think of saving money, we tend to immediately think about ways to cut back on our spending. In reality, the easiest way to start saving is to earn more! If you don’t like the sound of switching to a more modest phone plan or fiddling around with your monthly outgoings, you'll have to focus on the money coming into your savings or checking account instead.
There are a multitude of side hustles to choose between, with something for people of all abilities and commitment levels.
At one end of the spectrum, if you’re willing to commit time and effort into learning a skill and building up an income source, you could consider starting a blog, an online course, or freelancing. None of these fields are easy to get started in, and it might take you a while to earn anything, but their scalability is practically unlimited.
Alternatively, if you just want a low-effort but guaranteed income source, you could consider a money-making app instead. Taking surveys, playing games, and similar activities can net you a few extra dollars here and there, which can really add up over the course of a month of year. Why not put that spare time you have during the commute to good use?
Time to start saving
An old eighteenth-century British saying is that “if you look after the pence, the pounds will look after themselves.” You might think that saving a few dollars a month from canceling Netflix or taking a few surveys a week will barely make a dent in your financial situation, but all those little actions really add up.
Of course, the six tips included here aren’t your only options for saving money, but they’re a great place to start. Now, less time reading theory and more time taking action! We wish you luck in your quest.