A week off can really do wonders. Although I was only visiting family in Kentucky and not soaking up the sun in some tropical location, it was nice to have some time off. I had lots of time to think about this year and what I hope to accomplish. So as a reflection of my recent week away, I’d like to share how I believe we can call have more money this year.
Stop Buying Into The Expected Mindset
A big problem for many people is that they can’t escape the expectations of their friends, family, or even society in general. Most people in the United States live in some sort of debt that comes from living above their means. I can’t tell you how many people I saw last week who were lamenting about not having enough money but recently bought a new iPad, a new TV, a new car!! If you don’t have money, stop buying new things. Just because all your neighbors have one, doesn’t mean you need one too. I know this sounds like 5th grade mentality, but believe me, adults are just as bad as adolescents when it comes to instant gratification. Until you accomplish this, there is no need to go on down the list.
Learn More DIY
It seems that whenever we go visit my family, there is some sort of electrical or appliance malfunction. Last Christmas, the dryer died while we were there. This year, it was the ice maker AND a light fixture in the kitchen. I’m not picking on my Mom at all, but the first thing she did was call the repairman. The light is shot and will have to be replaced, but the ice maker just had a stuck piece of ice that was causing it to shut down. It took the repairman all of 3 seconds to fix it, and that was $40 down the drain.
I felt really bad because we could have probably just Googled the problem and fixed it ourselves, but I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my house. I wonder how much money most families waste by calling the repairman at the first sign of trouble. Now, if I have sparks shooting out of something or a flood happening, I won’t be able to call the man fast enough, but maybe try looking online if the problem isn’t an emergency.
The same goes for basic upkeep and maintenance. I have been putting off some painting because I don’t want to do it myself, but I need to just suck it up. A little elbow grease allows you to keep much more of your money.
Cut Back on Personal Care
I often wonder what it was like back in the olden days when there weren’t millions of products marketed to keep us smelling and looking good. I guess people probably had B.O., wrinkles, and gray hair! While I’m not a fan of any of those things, I don’t think you need to spend a fortune on personal care.
I started coloring my own hair last year, and after some practice, I think I’m as good as the salon. It costs $7 instead of $80. I replaced my beloved Aveda conditioner a few years ago with one from Dove. I still love Aveda, but at $26 a bottle vs $5 for Dove, it isn’t worth it. I don’t get manicures. I don’t use perfume. I use Oil of Olay and very little makeup.
I’m not saying you have to cut out all personal care, but if you shell out big bucks to look good, there is probably a better way. I honestly don’t think I look, smell, or feel very different from when I spent hundreds of dollars a year on upkeep. I challenge you to replace one expensive product or service with a cheaper alternative and see what you think.
How Many Clothes Do You Need?
After going almost a whole year without buying clothes, I’ve come to realize you really don’t need that much. Most people don’t pay attention to what you wear. I work in three different offices, so if I wear the same things every week but in different settings, it looks like I have tons of outfits! Even if you work in the same place every day, buy solids and basics. It’s easy to mix and match.
I did buy a few things between Thanksgiving and New Year, so I believe I’m set for 2015. Here is my challenge to buy no more clothes this year. Who’s going to join me?
Are You Spending Too Much On Your Kids?
Now is the perfect time to cut back on non-essential kid spending. At this time last year, we were doing three different activities; swimming, dance, and ski lessons. This year, we’ve cut back to one thing at a time. Not only are we saving money, we feel much less stressed. We have also taken advantage of after school activities at the library, which are fun and completely free.
Keep Yourself Healthy and Save on Food
I’ve heard people say that you can’t eat healthy on a budget, but that is 100% false. Maybe you can’t eat everything you want on a budget, but you can eat healthy. Frozen, pre-packaged meals are easy, but not less expensive. I don’t claim to be a good cook, but anyone can make simple, healthy meals from ingredients.
- Buy what is on sale.
- Make meals that can be used for leftovers or frozen. There are tons of recipes online if you have no clue.
- Don’t waste food. Stir fry, casseroles, smoothies. There are tons of ways to use up things that are about to go bad.
- Cut back on snack foods and processed things.
If you follow those guidelines, you’ll be eating more healthy and not wasting money on groceries.
The other part of the equation is to get moving. A week in the South always makes me want to go exercise. I know people claim to hate exercise, but I believe they haven’t given it a fair shot. I would almost guarantee that if you find an activity you can tolerate and do it regularly for a month, you wont’ go back to being sedentary. People who exercise feel better and spend less on health care problems. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.
Making More Money
I always try to save when we can, but the ultimate way to have more money is to make more money. If you can’t do that at your job, it’s time to think outside the box. I brainstormed all kinds of ideas while I was off last week, everything from pet sitting to starting a new blog to teaching a class at community college. In reality, I probably won’t do most of those things because of time and the fact that we’re pretty happy with the status quo, but I know I could take on one or more ideas if I needed to.
I would encourage anyone needing more money to make their own list of very possible through long shot ways to make more money. Even if you only do one thing, even if you don’t like doing that thing very much, it’s more money in the short term to make long term goals possible.
What are your ideas to have more money this year? What is one thing you’ve cut out to save money that you really didn’t miss?