Sometimes it’s scary to just decide that you’re going to start saving—so many variables! So many things to keep track of! How do you begin to cut down on costs?
Well, it’s in the little things AND the big things. Some of these are purchase decisions you make every day; others are long-term investments to save you funds in the future, like disability insurance.
Here are 16 smarter purchase decisions for 2015:
1. Reusable water bottle. Instead of wasting money on bottled water (who does that these days?) pick up a glass or steel water bottle and refill it from the sink or drinking fountains.
2. Borrow books from the library! If you really like a book, you can always go back and buy it later.
3. Get liability insurance. Seriously! If you mess up on a project, your client is likely to sue—whether it’s really your fault or not. Why take the hit from a big lawsuit when you can get liability insurance to cover your career and reputation?
4. **Rent tools and equipment **instead of buying them. This is also a great way to test out equipment to see if it fits your needs.
5. Rent movies and games, too. When was the last time you played a video game more than once? Okay, when was the last time you were into a game and then wanted to play it six months later? That’s what we thought.
6. Buy these foods in bulk: rice, pasta, dried beans and other dry goods. They never go bad, and buying in bulk is always cheaper.
7. Make these things instead of buying them: pesto, salsa, hummus, granola. These all have one thing in common: they’re a bunch of ingredients you probably already have, just... blended together. Save by making your own, and it’ll be fresher, too.
8. Get dental insurance instead that round of cocktails. A fancy drink or three sounds nice… but a healthy smile sounds even nicer.
9. Divert a percentage of each paycheck into a savings account. Here’s a quick way to save more—just don’t let yourself see that money! Divert part of each check to where you can’t touch it, and watch your savings grow.
10. Buy your car lightly used. If you need a car (Do you? Parking is expensive!) it’s really best to buy used. Cars have such a high rate of depreciation that it doesn’t make much sense to buy new.
11. Also, your furniture. Same thing as above. If you absolutely must have a brand new couch where no other bottoms have rested, consider getting your kitchen set or coffee table gently used.
12. Get disability insurance. Accidents happen. Disability insurance means you can still collect paychecks while you can’t work—that’s a little bit of stability for freelancers in a world that’s less than stable.
13. Buy your Internet and cable modem instead of renting it. After a year (or two, depending on the model), you’ll actually save money that way.
14. Ditch the data plan, or get a better one. You can run up huge bills by accidentally going over your plan. If you tend to hang out where there’s wifi, considering axing as much of your data plan as possible. Conversely, if you’re a data-fiend constantly running over your limit, check your plan to see if you can land yourself a better deal.
15. Clean up your subscriptions. Chances are, your credit card is getting auto-charged for a bunch of stuff you never even intended to keep buying. Do you even use Netflix that much anymore? Do you really read Artforum or was that to keep up appearances while you were in grad school? And you know that Spotify is sucking $10 out of your bank account each month, right? That’s like three coffees! (Also: stop buying coffee.)
16. Turn down your thermostat. You definitely don’t need to keep the place warm when you’re not at home. And when you are, an optimal winter-time temperature is 68 or so, and you can always pile on a blanket or two! And when you turn in for the night, consider turning down the thermostat even more, to 63 degrees… it’s been shown that sleeping in a cold room is better for you, anyway.
How do you optimize your purchase decisions? Got any tips for building better saving habits? Leave them in the comments!
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Larissa Pham is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her setting her thermostat to 55 degrees and piling on the blankets.