I put in hard work, and money walks its way into my bank account. But will it stay there? It seems as if it always has an urge to sprint out the back door, never to be seen again. I guess that’s what is happening to many people here in the U.S. Spending money has never been easier - we are bombarded with advertisements for products and services we don’t even need, yet we buy into them. Marketing is hot, because when done right everyone knows for every dollar you spend in advertising, $2 will come right back from consumers.
So yes, I find myself wanting to let my money free. Go ahead Benjamin Franklin, be free and live your life, exchange yourself for those new shiny gadgets that I so desperately need to have in my life!
But on a serious note, I’ve found it’s not too hard to succumb to this era of free spending and materialistic spoils. It takes a certain mindset that you stick to -- certainly not the end of the world. Also note that this is such a first-world problem. Are we seriously concerned about all the money we’re spending and how we should be investing it? Billions of people in the world don’t even think about investing because they can’t afford to. We’re in a good place, and we ought to take advantage of it.
Here are 10 moves I made that drastically reduce my spending.
1. Only buy groceries on sale.
Here in Los Angeles, the biggest grocery chains I see are probably Ralph’s and Sprouts. I do 95% of my shopping at these two places because they have so many great deals.
90% of what I put in my basket is on sale. I mean, I’m guessing 25% of their store is on sale at a time, so I’m just going pick from those items. It’s not hard: need a meat? Pick a meat that’s on sale. Need vegetables? Pick a vegetable that’s currently on sale. Need milk? Pick a milk that’s on sale. Don’t be picky with brands or variations -- what’s on sale will do.
I do this every time I shop and I’m amazed at how much food I can get per dollar. It sure beats eating out!
2. Go to the gym daily
This might seem trivial, but I honestly think it’s a great way to spend less money. I make it a thing to gym almost each day, for an hour to hour and a half. Obviously this is good for your health, and you’ll spend less time in the hospital and more time being productive.
Secondly, it gives you a hobby. Instead of going out for a drink or doing a money spending activity, you can go to the gym and get a workout in. It becomes fun if you’re crazy like me. You can meet gym friends and hang out with them at the gym. It’s definitely a reliable social outlet.
3. Eat out less
Eating out is expensive. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but it adds up. If you had a cheap $10 meal for every meal of the day, you’d spend almost $900 a month. I can get $125 of groceries per month and eat like a king.
This doesn’t include those fancy meals that run $50-200 a person for a single meal. Sure, splurge every once in a while. But you’re spending a month’s worth of groceries on a single meal 🙂
4. Pregame extra hard
Yes, this is referring to going out to bars or clubs! Rather than spend $50 getting wasted at a bar, I’d rather get wasted at home with friends and then head out. This way the fun starts early, and you’re only spending $10 on alcohol.
5. Buy stuff used
Lots of the furniture I’ve purchased for my home has been found on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. There are tons of items, lightly used, that people need to get rid of. Almost 100% of items in the world drop in value a ton right when they are purchased. By buying lightly used things, we are reducing waste and also saving our wallets.
This also goes for cars. I can’t say I personally have a used car right now (I did before but now I’m leasing a new car), but it’s a fantastic way to avoid that initial hit in depreciating right when a car is driven off the lot. Buying a 2 year old car seems to be a great way to save up to 40% and still drive something that is new and nice.
6. Use GasBuddy to find cheap gas
I drive a lot, so gas prices have an impact on my daily expenditures. With GasBuddy (an app for iOS and Android), I can find the cheapest gas in an area and save around $5 on a tank of gas.
Also, if I know I’m heading for a part of Los Angeles with cheaper gas, I’ll time my fill ups for when I’m in that part of town; Whenver, I head to Whittier, Cerritos, or OC (regular places for me), I’ll fill up my tank if it’s low. I rarely get gas on the west side because it’s definitely more expensive.
So honestly this is a double edged sword. Slickdeals.net is a site I visit on the daily - it’s a compilation of the best deals on the web. Their front page has tons of great deals, so it’s like having Black Friday year round. I can save a ton of money on things I find here, but also it makes you buy things you didn’t know you needed. We call it the slickdeals effect -- you see something you didn’t know, and now it’s on your doorstep because it was too good a deal to pass up.
8. Groupon for Travel
Ok, so obviously if your only goal in life is to save money, then traveling is probably kryptonite. Traveling is always a cost, but there are ways I reduce my spending on trips.
When creating your itinerary, use Groupon to find fun things to do. They have tons of experiences, restaurants, and other cool things on there. For example, if you’re going to Oahu, they have so many half off activities -- parasailing, ziplining, tours, boat trips, luau’s, etc. You can do tons of fun activities that would normally cost an arm and a leg, all at 50% off.
Find these activities, and plan them out with your schedule. You’ll save a ton of money and still do a lot of fun things you would’ve wanted to do anyways.
9. No-spend days
Have a set day of the week where you can’t spend any money. No online purchases, no groceries, no eating out, no getting drinks, no new clothes. Optimally I think you could have multiple of these per week. Of course this doesn’t include monthly fees like rent, phone, etc. And don’t just make up for it by spending more the next day! That defeats the purpose.
10. Learn to do things yourself
I’ve learned and done lots of things myself because I didn’t want to pay for it. I learned to contract and renovate my home myself to save money (general contractors were too expensive). I change light bulbs, door locks, and other small maintenance issues myself. I painted a giant piece of art because I didn’t want to pay for art. I became a photographer so I could take pictures myself. I got started in real estate so I could do deals myself and save on commission.
There’s lots of things you can do yourself to save money. I don’t recommend this for everything - obviously some things you should let the pros handle. But for things you think you can do, try and learn. You’ll save money in the long run because you won’t forget the skill. And you’ll be a more well-rounded person with a grown respect for certain tasks.
There you go, those are 10 things I’ve been doing to reduce my spending and live a smarter, more financially-sound life. You can invest more, save more, have a bigger emergency fund, and buy a house faster. It’s all to speed up life goals!
What habits do you implement on a day-to-day basis?
Hi, I'm Charlie
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