There are lots of ways to cut down on your spending. It’s the subject of dozens of blogs, hundred of blog entries (including these very Frugal Friday posts), and thousands of books. There are almost as many ways to save money on your spending as there are ways to spend that money. In just about every area of spending, there are one or more ways you can cut down your expenses.
Some of those ways, though, are a lot more obvious than others. It takes some thought and research to come up with, say, not decorating your baby’s room for a baby, but other ways of saving should hopefully be pretty obvious to just about everyone. While I’m hoping that these ways should have occurred to you before, if you need a reminder, here are some of the most obvious ways you can cut down on your spending:
1. Don’t Buy Bottled Water: If I had to make a top list of needless ways people spend money (which I suppose is essentially what I’m doing now), spending money on bottled water would be at the top. In most parts of the western world, the water that comes out of every faucet at your home is more than safe to drink, being held up to high levels of safety and cleanliness. There’s no reason that a reusable bottle that you refill from a faucet isn’t more than enough.
(If you still don’t think your water is tasty enough direct from the faucet, there are ways to make it more palatable. A simple Brita or Pur water filter can dramatically change the flavor of your water, making it decidedly more appealing. Since you can usually purchase such filters for less than the cost of a dozen bottles of water, it’ll still save you money in the end.)
2. Pack, Don’t Buy, Your Lunch: It’s tempting to simply go out each day at lunchtime, find somewhere nearby, pay for a lunch, and then return to work. But, unless you are going to the cheapest, lowest quality food place you can find, you’re not going to be able to spend less than you would by packing a relatively simple lunch and eating in the break room. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be social with your coworkers, but even cutting out one or two meals with the guys (or gals, or both) each week could make a big impact on your wallet.
(Before you decide you’re never going to go out to lunch with your coworkers again, though, be sure to consider all the aspects of such a decision carefully; it’s possible that the value of being able to butter up your coworkers (and possibly your boss) outweighs the cost of the meals, in terms of possible future promotions and general good opinions of you around the office. Don’t use this as an excuse to keep going out every day without close consideration, but do realize that there are other considerations besides just the cost of the meal that should go through your head.) In a similar vein…
3. Cut Out Your Daily Expenses: Chances are, you have one or more habits that do everyday, or at least, every weekday. For many people, those habits include things like buying a morning cup of coffee (and perhaps a danish or other breakfast item), getting the paper on the way to work, and then settling in for the day. But those little expenditures each day can end up adding up pretty quickly; four dollars a day, five days a week, fifty weeks a year is $1000 that goes to Starbuck’s bottom line, not yours. Extrapolate over thirty years of work, start to add in the return you could have gotten on that money, and before long, the cost of your daily coffee (or newpaper, or weekly video game purchase, or anything like that) has cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. David Bach calls it the ‘Latte Factor‘, and it is a powerful example of how regularly spending, without even thinking about it, can cost you. Cut out these expenses (or at least, do such spending less often), save and invest the money, and you’ll be richer in no time flat.
4. Cut Down on Your Media Expenditures: I’m not going to try to tell you to not spend anything on entertainment at all; all work and no play makes Jack Nicholson a homicidal maniac, after all. But do you really need eighteen magazine subscriptions, a deluxe cable package with all the premium channels, AND a dozen brand-new books each month? Probably not. Try to take a close look at what media you really use, and cut down appropriately. Maybe only two or three of those magazine subscriptions really get read each month, the TV only is watched when you can’t find anything good online, and your To-Be-Read shelf on your bookcase is nearly overflowing. It shouldn’t be that hard to cut back on some of those areas, saving yourself a great deal of money (and hopefully some sanity) in the process.
There you have it, four ways to save so obvious I couldn’t stretch them each into their own posts. Here’s hoping they help you to save more of your own money.