Simple, Actionable Ways to Stretch Your Budget

You’ve probably heard it a million times “By just cutting out a cup of coffee each day, you’ll save thousands over a decade!” That’s worth it for most people. But since you’ve likely heard that tip, it’s time to hear something new. There are many ways to cut back in similar fashion. This post will flesh out the many small tips to save lots of green.

Bike to Work – Stretch Your Budget While Slimming Your Waistline

Driving a car is expensive. According to AAA, it costs just over 60 cents per mile. That really adds up. Biking is nearly free. And it can also keep you from needing a gym membership.

To get started biking, you of course need a bike. A helmet may be wise as well. A good rule of thumb when buying a bike to only to get one with a MSRP of $500 or greater. These bikes are more reliable than Walmart/Target, etc. bikes. Buying used can bring the price of these higher dollar bikes down to just a few hundred dollars. A hybrid bike works well for commuting. Sometimes they are called commuter bikes. If you live more than five miles from work, consider buying an electric bike. I just saw one on Craigslist near where I live. He was only asking $300. That particular electric bike has a range of 20 miles. In general, electric bikes are heavier, more expensive and don’t handle as well as a traditional pedal bike. But they can be great fun and enable you to go much further. Even buying a nice electric bike is far cheaper than driving.

Drive a More Fuel Efficient Car

Some cars require premium gasoline, others ‘regular’, some run on E85, others on diesel, some are electric. Figure out which type of fuel is cheapest for you and find a car that takes that fuel. Find one that offers the best MPG or eMPG possible but still fulfills your needs. I’m not suggested you cram your family of 5 in a Honda Civic. But it would be a shame if all these years you were driving around in a Tahoe when you would’ve been perfectly happy in a Prius. Driving a more fuel efficient car may save you $100+ per month. So while it may be a hassle to change vehicles, it really pays dividends.

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Skip the Dryer

Dryers are expensive, they use a lot of electricity and they damage clothing. Instead… skip it. Use a drying rack instead. You can dry nearly all clothing. If there’s something you don’t want to hang dry, you can use the dryer then. Or if you want to forego owning one entirely, you can take the item to a nearby laundromat. Skipping the dryer in the summer months is nice because it doesn’t heat up your house. Skipping the dryer in the winter is nice because, when you let your clothing air dry inside the house, it’ll add moisture to the air. That’s very handy in the winter (or if you live in Arizona). Line dry outside in the summer when humidity is in ample supply.

Avoid Eating Out

You can make healthy meals at home for just a buck or two per person. Going out to eat a comparable meal will cost far more. Instead, find a few recipes and start cooking at home. You may even find cooking relaxing. Even if you really love eating out, choose to do so slightly less often. Once you have a few recipes down pat, it really doesn’t take much effort. Make sure when you’re finding recipes that you find simple ones. That will encourage you to make them more often.

Take Lunch to Work

This is a super simple way to save. It’ll also give you more time on your lunch break since you won’t have to get in a car and drive some place. Also, you’ll likely eat healthier. It’s a lot harder to eat all the extra fat and sugar when you yourself put it into the recipe.

Instead of driving to a restaurant, simply eat at work. Take a lunch with you and put it in the refrigerator. Take along snacks as well so the vending machines don’t tempt you. Encourage your coworkers to do the same if you get lonely. You can even talk budgeting.

Shop Sales

Some people have a rule where they only buy something if it’s on sale. It’s an interesting idea. If you were to adhere to this rule, how much would you save? Let’s say you spend $1,000 per year on new clothing. If you bought it all on sale for at least 20% off, you would save $200 per year. That’s quite a lot of money!

Shopping sales can be very rewarding. I think the key is patience. To make things easier, have a list of what you would buy if it were on sale. For instance:

  • New 21″ carry on bag
  • New running shoes
  • New backpack

Then you can wait for sales to get them items. It’s kind of fun shopping this way as well. One day you are stuck with your old backpack, the next day you’re able to buy a new one with no guilt.

Make Sure You’re Getting the Lowest Rates Possible

Make sure you’re paying the lowest rates possible. To discover this, you can be as proactive as reconsidering everything: your phone bill, internet bill, car insurance and more. You can shop around to make sure you’re getting a good rate within the industry. Or if you’d rather, you can simply call your provider as ask if they can offer you a better rate. You never know until you ask.

The beauty of this budget hack is that you only have to do it about once a year to make sure you’re getting the lowest rates. So you do it once per year but the savings last month after month. Unlike other budgeting tips – such as couponing – this is more of a set-it-and-forget-it process. That’s much better than clipping coupons each week.

Small Things Matter

I know at times it feels like a buck here or there is no big deal. But over time, that money adds up to become a noticeable sum. This is especially true if you begin expensive habits while young and keep them going through the decades.

Not only is wasteful spending unbecoming, it’s also bad for the environment. When you spend a lot unnecessarily, you are using extra fuel and goods that would have never needed to be sourced in the first place. Budgeting helps you and others.

Finally, by spending less you may find you’re able to enjoy life to a greater extent. You won’t be worrying so much about buying tons of stuff. You can learn to be content with a simpler life. Just make sure to stay ambitious. Because the secret to life is being both content and ambitious.

Enjoy the ride!

 

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