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Which is easier: saving more money or making more money?
The dream of the average Joe is to become a millionaire at a specific age. Most times, the mentality that comes with this is to get a higher paying job or start a business that’ll help make more money.
But have you ever thought about saving up to a million dollars?
Either way, you’ll become a millionaire, right?
If saving is really tough for you (and I can imagine it is for a lot of people), there are ways to make this easier.
Actively recognizing opportunities to save more will greatly help your personal life and that creative business you love doing.
In this post, I’ll show you 13 changes you can make to create a lifestyle that saves you money.
Let’s get to it.
1. Steer clear of periodic and recurring payments
Nothing eats into your finances more than recurring payments, especially the ones you don’t really need.
Check all your present expenses: If anyone of them requires that you pay every month, weigh its importance. If you can do without it, then take it off your list.
Always try to go for one-off payments. You can use the simple Mint.com app to track your expenses and know which ones are taking a toll on your finances.
2. Avert risk through insurance
Here’s a simple rule to keep in mind:
If a particular occurrence can make a huge dent in your finances, then you should consider insuring against it.
If your car gets destroyed in an accident, repairing it could be expensive. Why not insure it? How about your house getting burned to the ground (God forbid)?
While most of us have various forms of insurance, it's not something we monitor regularly.
Insurance rates tend to go up every couple of years even without any claims.
Are you checking rates and making sure your homeowners insurance is affordable? What about your car or your renter’s policy?
Periodically review rates to lower costs and create more wiggle room in your budget.
3. Take advantage of the warranty on things you use
I remember when my Samsung Galaxy Core fell to the ground and developed a fault.
My mind started reeling with the cost of repair. It wasn’t until I got to the repair centre that I discovered the warranty still covered my device. I didn’t pay a dime!
Anyone can get the same result with any device used. Instead of just replacing a newly purchased device after it develops a fault, check the warranty statement.
There’s every chance you could get it fixed for free.
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4. Don’t sacrifice quality
In the name of living below our means, we tend to go for the really cheap stuff.
You get what you pay for. If for example, you realize you need a refrigerator, go for quality instead, regardless of the price.
Sometimes sacrificing quality for price would cause you to replace that refrigerator multiple times.
The result: 2 cheap low quality refrigerators would turn out to be more expensive than 1 quality one.
5. Say 'Thank You' every morning
As humans, we never have enough. Our lifestyles could always be better. We could always use a new car, and so on.
If this is the case, then we would rather be spending more than saving more. But how can you spend less and feel like you have a life that rocks?
Gratitude has a way of showing you the good things you have in life. We like to compare ourselves with others, but gratitude tells you to stop comparing and look within.
There’s something you have that the other guy doesn’t. Be grateful for it.
Transformation Coach and Speaker, Andy Grant, has an interesting Gratitude course at Udemy that’ll help you appreciate all the good in your life.
6. Make saving second-nature
This goes without saying. However, I don’t mean save on expenses, or always look for coupons before buying an item.
I mean take a conscious effort to save a portion of what you make.
According to the book, “The Richest Man in Babylon” which I love so much, you should save at least 10% of your income. Invest it and never lay a finger on it (for now).
If doing this consciously would be hard, then use the Acorn financial app.
All you have to do is integrate it with your account and at the end of the month (or at any time specified by you), it does the investment for you.
7. Learn to cook. And if you must eat out, do it less often
At the age of 10, my dad started teaching my siblings and I how to cook. That’s well over a decade ago and since then, we’ve never looked back :).
Regardless of how tedious your schedule is or how much client work you have to do, you could still fit in a “cooking session” in your timetable.
You would not only turn out healthier, but you’ll have a skill lots of people don’t have: cooking.
Ecommerce site Food52.com has a large library of curated food recipes you’d want to check out.
To take it a step further, pack your lunch as well, in case your office is away from home.
8. Stop trying to impress people you hate
Sometimes the real reason we want to acquire a ton of material possessions is to impress people who we just seem to dislike.
This could be your ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend), your landlord, the bully in high school or just a snobbish family in your neighbourhood.
What’s the point?
If that’s your motive, then perhaps you need to go through a forgiveness exercise…and some yoga too.
9. Develop an attitude for maintenance
How many times have you left the house without switching off lights, or the TV? How often do you clean your television, or even your laptop computer?
Turn unused appliances off. According to Energy Star, the average household spends more than $100 each year on 'phantom' devices such as TVs often left in 'sleep' mode while we're away from the house.
Like humans, I like to think that devices also have emotions. And neglect often gets them depressed too. Then they develop some kind of fault that’ll require repair.
Before using your computer next time, clean it. Before going to bed, at least put off the TV.
And before leaving home, ensure unnecessary devices are off. Start from there, and you’ll start to notice other lapses in your maintenance culture.
10. Cool off before purchasing that 'Want'
Research shows that decisions are first made based on emotion before logical thinking (logic kicks in much later, sometimes after we’ve made the purchase).
A simple technique to ensure this works for you is to delay that purchase a bit. Instead of purchasing something you want immediately you realize it, give yourself a window period.
And then you can document that want using this super simple Need vs Want tool created by G. E. Miller at 20 Something Finance.
If after a few weeks, you realize you’re still dying to get it, and you’ve weighed the pros and cons, then go right ahead. But that would not always be the case, you’ll see.
11. Cut down on your large budgets
In addition to tracking your expenses, the purpose is to know what to cut down on and what to keep.
Instead of just having a general budget, break it down into categories and track them every month.
For example, your categories could be Food, Transportation, Car fuel and Miscellaneous. Set a budget for each (within the overall budget) and then you record every single expense you make.
You could use a simple tracking software like Goodbudget for this. With it, you’ll be able to control even your daily expenses.
At the end of the month, you’ll realize that while you almost exhausted some budgets, you hardly spent from others.
12. Learn to do some things yourself, like repair
Not everyone is cut out for this and that’s okay. But if you’re good with your hands, then use them to save yourself some extra money.
Some of us call electricians for simple things like changing the light bulb holder, or replacing the wall socket. And then we call plumbers for fixing the blocked kitchen sink.
These are simple repairs that you can do yourself. If you’re looking to takeover some minor repairs at home, iFixit has a couple of DIY guides that’ll help.
Or perhaps the next time the electrician or plumber comes to do that minor repair, see how they do it. And then do it yourself.
13. Practice "Zero Spending" once a week
How possible would it be to go through a whole day without spending a dime? Why not try it.
Pick a day in the week and make up your mind to spend nothing (assuming you already have some food at home that you can cook).
You probably think this is totally impossible, but hey, the basic amenities that we need to survive are food, clothes, water and shelter.
After all, we work to provide the money that’ll help us acquire these things.
Try this out tomorrow and see how it goes :). I’m sure you won’t die.
Bonus Point: Build your own gym
For the fitness enthusiasts who can’t do without some exercise every day, why not save the money you spend at that gym.
If you carry weights or do cardio, get your own dumbbells, skipping rope, etc. And instead of that treadmill you love so much, go jogging instead.
It’s always a better experience jogging in the cool breeze than running that treadmill under conditioned air.
It may take some effort to change your lifestyle to one that saves you more money, but the advantages are endless. This list is only a fraction of the many methods available.
To get started, kick off your new lifestyle by practising #5 then you can move on to more conscious methods like #13.
Having less to worry about and living a healthy life would even help you do more of that creative work you love.
Lanre Solarin is a freelance writer who helps creative professionals generate leads online using content marketing. Do you want more clients? Download your free copy of his "Get More Clients" guide to start attracting clients online.